By Malik Javid
FEW days back, I had to visit a local J&K bank branch to replace my expired debit card with a new one. I had just driven a few Kilometers from home till I was caught in a traffic mess. First I thought it might be a usual traffic halt, common in our narrow streets, but I was wrong as my wait for resumption of normal traffic kept on brewing. With no transit route available, I was left with no other option other than to leave my cosy car to know about the whys and wherefores behind this traffic mess. I had just walked a few steps from my car when I began to spot a huge crowd gathering on a road, this time I thought they might be protesting the usual electricity woes or water scarcity crisis quite common in winters in our vale. But I was again proven wrong as I reached ground zero. I was astonished and literally felt numb after listening to the whole saga from the people who had gathered there to pacify the young boys involved in fist fight. I came to know, that a gang of young boys studying at a local coaching centre had a heated verbal scuffle over some issue, to soothe the raw emotions of these young boys, a local tuition teacher tried to intervene to calm the things down, but instead of listening to his advice ,one of the guy in a state of rage spanked the young teacher, exasperating the situation further. Thus, a teacher who had tried to be the part of the solution became the part of the problem himself. The situation could have taken ugly turn had the local police not arbitrated quickly. The above situation is the microcosm of the bigger picture of moral deprivation dominant in coaching centres.
Back to my driving seat, I turned off the stereo of my wagon to have a deeper thought on the growing moral threat of coaching centres, I began to question myself, where are we heading as a society? Has moral bankruptcy taken over our sanity? Why don’t our parents keep an eye on their ward’s doings? And more importantly why is our administration reluctant in keeping the tab on those coaching centres which are involved in violating the rules and regulations important for normal functioning of an educational institution in broad daylight?
Truth is that most of the coaching centres located in towns are acting like a state within the state, authorities have lost control over them, poor students have been left at the mercy of these greenhorns managing these money minting centres in the name of coaching centres under open sky. Beyond mandatory registration of the coaching centres, authorities don’t put any more checks and balances on the working of these coaching centres. From poor location to poor infrastructure to indefinite teacher student ratio, nothing is hunky dory in these centres. There is no definite fee policy and centres are involved in arbitrary hike of fee structure year after year and the bigger problem is the manner in which this fee is collected. Instead of collecting the fee at the end of the course or month wise ,students are made to deposit half the fee in advance and in some cases they accept the complete fee before the course has even been started. Thus, there is no exit window left for students to quit in the middle if they feel that they are not getting the quality education that they were promised, as there is no refund policy in these coaching centres.
Also, in a place like Kashmir one can’t be certain about tomorrow, like we have been witnessing from the past decade in the form of summer unrest becoming a new normal in our routine. Thus, education in winters has been virtually outsourced by the government to these private players and getting good education is a matter of privilege which, unfortunately, the poor can’t afford.
It’s said Uniform brings uniformity in students and it bridges the status gap between the students belonging to two different backgrounds i.e. poor and rich. I am not advocating for separate uniforms for tuitions just like schools, I am pleading for proper dress code in these centres. Not everyone can afford to wear new fancy dress every day, in many cases students from poor backgrounds have become the victims of inferiority complexes and end up forcing their financially constrained parents to take extreme steps to afford unaffordable luxuries for their wards. I know, I might sound more utopian and less realistic here but for the larger good of our society, we have to do something productive with these coaching centres in shaping our better future.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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