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Thursday, May 19, 2016

QUANTUM LEAP: The shameful link between the Kota suicides and IIT 'coaching' - Daily Mail UK

PUBLISHED: 09:15 EST, 18 May 2016 | UPDATED: 09:15 EST, 18 May 2016

The spate of suicides reported from Kota, the coaching capital of India, should come as a shock to us all. 
Young students are killing themselves, not because they are not able to get admission into any Indian Institution of Technology (IIT), but because of the sheer pressure of their 'coaching' regime and the obsession of parents over the future careers of their children.
The most poignant case is that of a girl who killed herself despite ‘cracking’ the joint entrance examination for IIT with a good mark.

Coaching centres often make false and unethical claims about the rank of their students. (File picture).

She took the extreme step of ending her life because she did not want to become an engineer.

The education system, parents, media, governments, and politicians must take notice as these suicides represent a collective failure and stand as a shameful indictment on us all.
Over the years, we have created an atmosphere in which IITs have been placed on a pedestal - an ultimate goal for young students.

An inability to reach this goal is considered the end of high-earning career aspirations for many students.

For many middle-class and poor parents an admission into IIT appears to be the best career option - a passport to a well-paid job, and in turn a ticket to the good life.

The biggest beneficiaries of this craze are coaching centres in Kota, Guntur, Hyderabad, Faridabad, Patna and elsewhere.
The frenzy begins with IITs, which themselves are under the misguided impression that they are among the best engineering schools in the world.

The IITs pride themselves on the number of students competing for each seat, hiding real academic indicators such as innovation, research output, and teacher-student ratio.

India's institutes of Technology do not come close to their US equivalents - MIT and Harvard.

In fact, the combined research output of our IITs is far below that of the two technology universities in Singapore - National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.
Also, the faculty shortage in IITs is pathetic, as pointed out by the parliamentary committee on higher education last month. 
While all such serious issues are shoved under the carpet, all we hear are the unverified claims about future salary packages.
All this helps the IITs further consolidate their brands and lure gullible, fee-paying middle-class parents.

Lofty claims about placements by IITs are a big boost to the business of the coaching centres intended to help prospective students, and are often the first contact point for parents.
Coaching centres then start hyping up their own brands by making false and unethical claims about the rank of their students.

Some of them even hold an entrance test: An entrance test to win coaching for an entrance test!

The coaching business operates in connivance with the various state education departments, which then turn a blind-eye to the high-pressure ‘dummy schools’ where children are enrolled for 10th and 12th grade CBSE or state board examinations, but are actually studying in coaching institutes.
These kids are being deprived of basic schooling and are being robbed of their childhood.

Their growing years are spent in 10-12 hours of rote learning and solving multiple choice questions, blunting their mental growth and capacity to think and ask questions.
It is high-time we woke up and ended this menace.
We will have to work at different levels. IITs will have to be de-glamourised. Parents need proper information - and the government needs to act tough with the coaching industry