Private coaching and commercialisation of education

Almost half a dozen or more Primary Teachers have been dismissed because they were found pursuing MBBS courses. These Primary Teachers were posted at different Government schools and they had all the time to pursue MBBS courses and at the same time enjoyed monthly salaries of being Government teachers. These reports of fraudulence tell a very sorry state of affairs at Government schools. For years, the frauds were enjoying monthly salaries at the expense of the State exchequer while conveniently staying away from their primary duty of teaching students. For years, there was no complaint which means that the need for their service was not felt because there were either too many teachers or too little students at their respective schools. A private school teacher would not be able to stay away from his/her school for even one week without giving proper reasons, forget about pursuing MBBS or other such professional courses for years. Close on the heels of the termination of the fraudulent Primary Teachers, the Chief Minister proclaimed that the Manipur Private Schools (Registration & Regulation) Act and the Manipur Private Coaching Centres Act would be implemented soon. These monitoring and regulatory mechanisms are long overdue. For quite a long time, private schools and private tuition have been completely dominating the State’s education scene up to higher secondary level. The two Acts are highly significant given the fact that private tuition has become an integral part of formal (school) education. More than 90 per cent of the private tutors are teachers of private schools. Government schools in Manipur have been left out of the competition for academic excellence since a long time back. It is students of private schools who have been making to the top 25 merit list of Class X examinations conducted by the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur every year.
It is not only private schools but private tuition or coaching too has become one compulsory feature of education in the State. Obviously, private tuition entails extra expenditure which is quite a big amount if calculated on annual basis. Many families have been investing their hard earned money in sending their children to private tutors which otherwise could have been invested for generating more income. In fact, private tuition has taken a heavy toll on the State’s economy. Nowadays, almost 90 per cent of students studying in private schools go for private tuition. Then it is pertinent to question if something is amiss in the classroom teaching. No doubt, private tuition equips students better to face examinations but at the same time students have been accustomed to a culture of spoon-feeding. The culture of spoon-feeding is robbing away the thinking power of our young students. Students are not allowed to exercise their mental faculty to tackle a problem and arrive at a conclusion of their own because teachers in coaching centres are ever present to supply them with readymade answers. Students studying in Government schools, in general, are not regular in attending classes and if they attend classes, they are not taught properly. Adding to their misery, most of the Government school students don’t go for private tuition either due to poverty or their parents are disinterested. Whereas the level of competitiveness is rising year after year, the arena of competition is shrinking reciprocally. Competition and sense of competitiveness have already become an exclusive domain of private and mission schools only. This is reflected most glaringly in the results of Class X and Class XII examinations. Right to education should be universal and it should not be denied to Government school students and students who cannot afford private tuition and we hope the two Acts which the State Government is planning to implement shortly would address this unfair aspect of school education in the State. The wanton commercialisation of education must stop somewhere.

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