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Deconstructing: Kota Sweat Shops

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Vignesh writes about the appalling conditions of the coaching centres in Kota and the rat race of Indian society to send their children to the city.

One of the major issues for the government while handling the Covid-19 pandemic was that a huge number of students in Kota were stranded. As on 4th April 2020 around 40,000 students were stuck in the city, surviving on free food packets provided by hostel owners, philanthropic organizations, and the institutes. A very important aspect which one would think is while Covid-19 started spreading in India despite W.H.O (World Health Organization) declaring it a Pandemic and Ministry of Health and Family welfare issued advisories on the 12th March and on 16th March 2020, why was the need for coaching classes in Kota to continue? Why weren’t the students in Kota Sent back to their places? Is preparing for exams for hours more important than life? The sad reality is in Kota it is. The trains, flights and various modes of transport were working till 21st March 2020. Even if the classes could have sent the students to their homes on 15th March still the students would have reached safely without panic. We cannot even imagine the mental stress these students stranded in Kota would be facing during the lockdown. 

The sad reality which one would wonder is Does Kota really help in making dreams of students or breaking dreams of students, sadly yes it doesn’t help in making dreams. Its High time for those ambitious parents who force and pressure their children to study in Kota and our education system to realize that there are successful people in our country who have done engineering from normal college. Let’s take the example of Satya Nadella who studied at Manipal Insitute of Technology was a chief executive officer in Microsoft. He wasn’t from IIT? Didn’t he become successful?

Kota a city that is the coaching capital of India. Kota records a vast amount of suicide of students due to academic pressure. Let us first have a look was Kota from 1980 a coaching capital or did it evolve with time let us have a look at its evolution. 

Kota is a city which is located 250 Km South of Jaipur in the State of Rajasthan. Kota as a city is known to have a rich cultural and historic legacy. Kota is famous for its Manufacturing industry and its princely culture. In recent times Kota has become an Educational Hub. Kota is also known as India’s Coaching Capital. A lot of Students from various part of the country come to fulfill their dreams of getting a seat into IIT ‘s or AIIMS. Some of these students come with their family some alone. Many students who are not financially that well of do take loans as well in order to pursue their education in Kota. Kota follows a system of Shadow education

What is Shadow education? Kota has evolved as a hub of shadow education. The concept of shadow education consists of basic three aspects first is supplementation, privateness, and academic subjects.  Shadow education which emphasis on private tuition and not in conventional School. Students in Kota follow the system of attending tuitions and are excused from the conventional school system. The question which arises is just because their classes cover subjects of conventional schools and college is it fair for them to evade conventional schooling and sit directly for exams? Is shadow education fair to students who are attending conventional schooling?   Does this really help in developing an inclination towards knowledge? Does it develop a healthy atmosphere for education? It not only fails in creating a healthy atmosphere but also destroys the objectives of the conventional education system. It doesn’t lead to a friendly atmosphere rather an unhealthy competition. It does indirectly destroy the respect which children should have for the schools, college and the system. This approach has led to an increase in commercialization of classes. 

Urban Landscape is highly transformational in nature. The City of Kota did witness a demographic transition . Kota as a city majorly consisted some residential colonies and the city had no hostels and fancy buildings .A large section of the city was barren. . It was famous priduction of synthetic fibres ,textile and rayons. It was also popular for mineral based industries and chemical factories and fertilizers

A number of units were closed down in Kota (Kota-India Environment Portal, 1999 in adherence with the Supreme Court Order followed by the Rajasthan Pollution Control Board claiming that there had been a subsequent rise in Air Pollution level . One of the major economic impact of various factories being shut down was many residents became unemployed.

One of the major incidents which brought about a change in the nature of the city was in 1996 when J.K Synthesis a factory which was the largest employer in the city was closed. Some employees realized that in order to protect the environment the factories were being shut. In the hunt of finding an alternative source of employment a mechanical engineer who worked in J K synthesis introduced a new concept of coaching in Kota. The engineers name was V.K Bansal. In 1986 when Sanjeev Arora a local resident topped the IIT entrance exam this is when Bansal classes started becoming famous. Soon after this incident many started to join of V. K. Bansal as employees. After a span of time all these employees started leaving Bansal classes and started their. Today Kota has 150 functional coaching institutes with Career point ad Allen being the major ones. This was a starting point of establishment of a Coaching capital

One of the main issues in Kota is the number of students who commit suicide. It is a very serious issue. There are various issues due to which students commit suicide. More than lakhs of students come to study in Kota but however number of seats in IIT is just some thousands. It is very important to prevent this from happening. The biggest problem is the stigma associated with prestigious educational institute. There are so many kids who are pressured to persue IIT and are taken to Kota. 

The question for which many Indians don’t have answer some of them are, is there a need to force children to pursue engineering or medicine?  Why India doesn’t have a Single Noble prize in Science despite having huge number of engineers? In case of Kota is the mental health of kids taken care of? It is High time our country needs reform in education system. We also need to focus to remove stigma associated with certain fields and college. There is a strong need for legislation in regards with educational system. There are families who take loans to send their kids to Kota the question lies is why do they take loan to get their kids pressurized in Kota?  Does Kota really full fill the dreams of students? Kota education culture is pressurizing students and does lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and eventually leads to suicide. We can hope with time there are educational reforms in Place. 

A Country which has stood up in education and has for sure led an example is Finland.  One of the prospective Solutions to this is adopting the Finland model of education system especially their system of Upper Education. The inspiration for Finland’s approach was American education research and philosophers such as John Dewey. Upper secondary Education in Finland is split into two main paths, general and vocational, and both take about three years. General education takes the form of course work, but students have a lot of freedom to decide their study schedules. At the end of general education, students take the national matriculation exam, Finland’s only standardized test. Their scores are used as part of their college applications. 

Vocational education is more jobs focused and incorporates apprenticeships as well as school learning. About 40 percent of students start vocational education after basic. This path ends with competence-based qualifications after the student completes an individual study plan. It’s worth noting that students aren’t locked into these paths. As part of Finland’s devotion to education and decision-making, the two are permeable so students can discover new interests or create a path those threads between the two.

Finland’s higher education is robust and flexible. Finnish colleges are divided into two types: universities and universities of applied sciences. Universities focus on scientific research, while universities of applied sciences emphasize practical applications. Students usually receive a bachelor’s degree in four years of full-time study, comprising studies, electives, and a project. Master’s degrees take five to six years, and as a rule, students are admitted to study for a master’s right away.

If a child chose the vocational path, they can continue their education at a university, typically a university of applied science. But again, Finland’s educational paths are highly adaptable. It will come as no surprise that Finland supports robust adult education to promote social equity and a competent labor force. Companies can purchase in for staff development, and labor training is provided for the unemployed. 

The question lies how do we prevent from increase in commercializing of classes? The answer is simple. It is to reform our education system in such a way where there is no pressure on the students. Let’s say if the Finland model is adopted in India would we even have a single child committing suicide due to academic pressure? Would students commit suicide for not getting into a particular university in case the Finland model is applied?  If we adopt the Finland model there would neither be students committing suicide nor would any Indian have an edge of aiding commercializing of Classes. The question lies is Will the Finland model be applicable in India? This is the when Government with extensive planning for sure implement it and make a change. It might take time but the results are worth it. 

Today Indian education system is completely about  campus placement, huge packages of salary is Success which has contributed to development of huge number of commercial classes and overemphasizing towards entrances for prestigious institution. Yes one must aim for the prestigious educational institutes but one must understand that if a student doesn’t study from prestigious institutes he still can be successful. The stigma that only studying prestigious institute one can be successful has led to development of coaching capitals like Kota. We can hope in future there are no more coaching capitals develop in India and educational system changes. The question that one must think is it high time that vocational education must be focused in India? 

– Vignesh Narayanan,Writer – Bharat Bhagya Vidhata 

References -:

  1. Anant Gautam, Sanjit Kumar& Ravi Shekhar, Industrial Town to Educational Hub: Transformation of Kota, February 6 2020, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339080835_Industrial_Town_to_Educational_Hub_Transformation_of_Kota.Acharjee, S. (2015).

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1 reply »

  1. Awesome article… I agree there’s a lot more changes needed in the present scenario…

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