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Gurukuls and coaching institutes

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July 11, 2017

Gurukuls and coaching institutes

It is no wonder that you come across students and parents who know nothing about Nalanda and Takshila but know everything about Kota in Rajasthan. Why? It is because Kota has become the education capital of India attracting students from every corner for Engineering and Medical Entrance Examinations coaching.

Today, one can find more than hundred coaching institutes in Kota spawning big business even for locals. People rent out a portion of their houses to these students who shack up in groups of two-three in a room. City restaurants, too, are happy having assured customers whose number runs into thousands on a regular basis. Looking at this growing trend, a number of questions come to one’s mind.

  • Is CBSE aware of the fact that students coming for coaching to Kota get enrolled as regular students in schools which they never attend?
  • Can coaching institutes ever be considered as equivalent to schools?
  • Assuming that every year one lakh students have taken coaching for JEE in Kota and ten thousand have secured admission, what is the future of the remaining 90,000? Who takes their responsibility?
  • Do education authorities have any control on the student intake by these coaching institutes?
  • Are these coaching institutes ready to take moral responsibility for the increasing suicide rate among students studying in Kota?

The list is endless and one can never get answers to these questions. It is because everyone involved in this business either directly or indirectly came to compromise for their own vested interest. Leaving others aside, let us think about parents, students and teachers.

  • India’s best faculty work in these coaching institutes earning packages which no school can match. Imagine how well can our schools function if these individuals work as PGTs with the same spirit. Difficulty in getting faculty for science subjects especially in classes XI and XII is one reason why schools are prepared to tie up with these institutes for their survival.
  • Students are completely driven by peer pressure to become a part of this race and they hardly realize what they fail to get by not going to school for two years.
  • As long as parents believe that coaching is a must to secure admission into IITs or medical colleges, nothing can change and they become a potential source of income for these institutes.

In the light of the above discussion, let us see how different these institutes are from the gurukuls of the ancient times in the table given.

S.No Gurukuls Coaching Institutes
1. After initiation (Upanayana) all individuals before the age of 8 or latest by 12, were sent to the Gurukul. In the 21st century, coaching institutes begin with the foundation for IIT/Medical College when the student enters class VI/VII i.e. by the age of 12.
2. Subjects such as Philosophy, Grammar, Logic, and Astronomy were all taught by the same Guru. Different teachers teach different subjects like Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.
3. The gurukuls were supported by public donation. A guru did not receive any fees from the disciple. Coaching Institutes get funds in the form of fee collected from the students.
4. Gurukuls were situated in peaceful, serene and natural environment. Coaching Institutes mostly operate in closed buildings situated in noisy surroundings of the cities.
5. Disciples were given training in various areas according to their interest, ability and aptitude. Students are given coaching by placing them in batches which are solely decided based on their marks and grades.
6. Parents and disciples considered Guru as a person above God. Parents and students have immense faith in the faculty members who work in the coaching institutes; much more than their counter parts who work in schools.
7. Gurukuls trained disciples in all aspects which facilitated them towards dharmic life. The role of coaching institutes in the life of a student is very limited i.e. only till the competitive exams get over.
8. Gurukuls were a classic example of centres which provided holistic education. Coaching institutes are considered as extended schools and in some cases they have even become a threat to the survival of schools.
9. Healthy competition existed among the disciples who studied in Gurukuls. Undue pressure on students to secure ranks at all levels at the cost of their physical, psychological and emotional health is prevalent.

Let us comprehend how things have changed and would continue to change further with the way coaching institutes are mushrooming all over the country. What would be our role as educators in this transformation? Can we continue to remain silent about it? Is this the transformation which our great gurus and leaders expected from us?

Let’s ponder upon it.

Satya Ramesh Presently working as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Amity University, Gwalior, Satya Ramesh has been a teacher of both Psychology and Mathematics for Senior Secondary and Secondary classes respectively for the past sixteen years. With a qualification in Psychology, Education and Counseling, he has a keen interest in these fields.

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