Trading Education

What are these coaching centers doing except this…???

I remember the time when matriculation results of Jammu and Kashmir state board of education were read out from Srinagar station of ‘Radio Kashmir’; a time when access to education was mostly restricted to urban areas and within the reach of few affluent people in countryside. Hardly ever, some people of their own would bloom out of obscure wilderness of poverty and ignorance by virtue of their inherent intellect— a God’s gift. In earlier times education was never a priority for people of Kashmir who were grappling with poverty and struggle for existence after long spell of autocracy. However, during seventies of last century the education scenario in the state experienced a paradigm shift, attracting and receiving lots of investment both intellectual and financial together with adequate infrastructural growth. With the passage of time several zealous private players and institutions ventured into education sector to provide a much required helping hand in establishing robust education system in the state and imparting quality education to people. They tried hard to be at par with existing well-established missionary schools and stand ahead of state run education system. However, the missionary zeal of this cluster of private players did not last long and with the addition of many materialistic people making a crowd of unscrupulous education dealers the education sector in the state got off track.

At present the education system in the state is almost like an industry being run on the principle of ‘profit and loss’. With some exceptions almost all the private education centers are lacking quality infrastructure, qualified human resource and above all transparency. Under paid staff, ill equipped buildings, poor infrastructure and materialistic mind set is hallmark of these education sellers.  The exploitative nightmare did not end here! In early nineties private education sector in the state diversified into coaching business and overnight tuition centers mushroomed in almost every part of the state. Srinagar city became hub of these coaching centers with addition of a new coaching center almost every week.
Every guy interested in making quick bucks in shortest possible time with minimum investment jumped onto the bandwagon of coaching. Every Tom Dick and Harry who otherwise proved failures in their life joined this crowd of exploiters. Rented dilapidated buildings with dingy rooms and shanty corrugated tin sheet huts were turned into coaching centers herding hundreds of easy to fleece students for sessions of squeezed knowledge. A cursory look around and inside any coaching centre gives you an idea of deception and exploitation perpetuated with impunity within these so-called learning centers. Normally for establishing and seeking permission for any business venture or institution scores of formalities, registrations and no objection certificates are a prerequisite, but surprisingly even after two decades of clandestine beginning and ambiguous establishment these centers of money minting are brazenly unwilling to co-operate with the administration and get recognized and registered.
In Kashmir the existence of each coaching centers at this point of time is not only illegal but unethical too. Illegal— they run their establishments without any recognition as prescribed within the frame work of existing laws and rules of accountability with negligible infrastructure and lack of qualified manpower: and unethical—these centers exploit the innocence of prospective learners and their guardians in the name of imparting quality education and empowering them with additional competitive knowledge. This situation of trading education in abysmal conditions with one and only agenda of making materialistic gains has brought our knowledge system to the crossroad of extreme exploitation, degradation and shame.  In this indistinct atmosphere where knowledge and education are traded and bartered against money and only money we are unable to assess the enormity of negative impact of these unrecognized and least accountable centers on our social system and day to day life?
Time has come that society as a whole should give a serious thought to this menace of rapidly increasing unauthorized coaching centers and stress upon the administration to regulate these centers and make them accountable. Proper scrutiny and sanitization of every coaching centre particularly on account of infrastructure and manpower should be made mandatory while according permission. All the coaching centers should be brought under a uniform fee structure devised by the administration on the recommendations of a high power expert committee comprising of eminent educationists and civil society members. Instead of pampering coaching center mafia by listening to their unreasonable demands that at occasions tantamount to blackmailing circumspect administration should act firmly, decisively and swiftly without giving any breather to unscrupulous elements of deceit and exploitation.