It was the scarcity of seats in medical and engineering colleges and the subsequent competition to get into these colleges that led to the inception of the concept of a coaching class. That was 55 years ago, when Mumbai got its first formal coaching class - Agrawal Mathematics Tutorials in Matunga, now based in Dadar.
From just one major player in 1953, Mumbai today has approximately 3000 players in this parallel education industry.
"Every student wants a seat in the best college. That can happen only with special coaching. As a result, the industry has grown leaps and bounds," said Jagdish Walawalkar, president, Maharashtra Coaching Class Owners Association.
According to industry estimates, the market size of tutorial sector in Mumbai alone is approximately Rs 500 crore - the figure stands at Rs 1000 crore all-India. The industry however is very unorganised and fragmented.
The coaching class industry is not just restricted to schools and colleges anymore. It has spread its reach to cover students in batches of 100-125 students as well as private personal tutors who teach in batches of 1-10 students. Many of the existing tutorials have upgraded their services to tutorials for professional and competitive exams like the Common Admission Test, GMAT, GRE, chartered accountancy etc.
Terming coaching classes as 'learning centres', business head for J K Shah Classes Chirag Shah said, "We are no more a parallel industry. In today's competitive world, students are more interested in exam oriented learning rather then concept-oriented learning. This is where coaching classes play a significant role."
He added, "Coaching classes were first to start with structured time tables and study materials; air-conditioned classroom with modern amenities and same was followed by the big education trusts for their schools and colleges who understood the need for structured teaching and quality education."
The industry's unorganised set up however brings its own set of challenges. "We are always misunderstood as being money minded, distracting students by stressing them out. While some may look at as a threat to the education system, I would like to believe that we act as a support system instead," said Mahesh Shetty, managing director, Mahesh Tutorials.