Deputy commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi has ordered private coaching institutes in the UT not to hold classes during school hours — 8am to 3pm — in “public interest” for 60 days, beginning Thursday.
Students who have already given final examinations or passed out of school will be exempted. “We have issued the orders under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code or CrPC (prohibitive measure, against unlawful assembly) and action will be taken against erring coaching centres,” the DC said.
The order comes days after a panel from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) visited the city in the backdrop of suicides at Kota (Rajasthan) — considered the country’s coaching centre hub — and expressed displeasure at the functioning of these institutes (see box), which mostly provide coaching to secondary or senior-secondary students for medical and engineering entrance tests.
What about schools?
The order — issued and later withdrawn last year too — expressly looks to address the issue of ‘dummy’ schools that do not insist on 75% attendance, thus helping coaching centres function during school hours. In some cases, the institutes are also found to be violating building bylaws, as was reported by HT.
Asked why issue the order now, when summer vacations had already begun in many schools, the DC said replied, “We will extend it. We took the action as the matter (of erring coaching centres) had come to my notice through reports in HT. I also got representations from teacher unions in the past two weeks.”
The UT education department also plans to act. “We will carry out fresh inspections after the summer vacations in these dummy schools, and take action,” said director, school education, Rubinderjit Singh Brar.
When the then DC Mohammad Shayin had imposed such an order in February last year, it was taken back after coaching centres said they would not enrol students in morning batches that clash with school timings. However, the trend continues.
Point, counter-point, and middle path
Swarn Singh Kamboj, a teacher at a local government school, said board exam results of Class 12 suffered as many students bunked school to attend coaching classes. However, Vinay Makin, math expert and administrative head of Allen Career Institute, argued, “Schools are not the only medium in this universe to provide education to students appearing for various types of exams. If students find a big difference of quality, obviously they will go for the better option.”
Makin further claimed, “Morning coaching classes, generally, are run either for students who have passed out of Class 12 or those who have special permissions from their school principals to prepare for competitions through which they can bring laurels to the school, state and the country.”
Dr Arvind Goyal, local academician and a medical entrance test trainer, said it was “reasonable” if classes were allowed to start 2.30 pm onwards as schools are over by 2pm. “A majority of students are girls in medical coaching, and starting late means finishing late, which may not be safe for them, particularly when it gets dark early in winters,” he said, adding, “If there is too long a gap between school getting over and the start of coaching classes, that will cause unnecessary waste of time and extra commuting for students.”