Students flee trouble in J&K, other states, to  pursue NEET, JEE dreams in coaching hub Kota
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Students flee trouble in J&K, other states, to pursue NEET, JEE dreams in coaching hub Kota

Thousands of students from the restive states of J-K, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and parts of the northeast are coming to Kota to be coached for JEE, NEET and other entrance exams

education Updated: May 03, 2017 18:20 IST
No to violence and yes to dreams: Students from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and northeast states who have joined coaching centres in Kota for engineering and other college entrance exams.(Handout)

Kota: Violence has been a part of Shadab Jahangir’s life. The 16-year-old is from Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir (J-K). Prateek Jain, 17, from Imphal, Manipur, is also no stranger to stone pelting and ethnic strife. Both Jahangir and Jain currently are currently being coached for medical college entrance exam NEET in Rajasthan’s coaching hub, Kota. Both want to become doctors.

They are not alone – thousands of students from the restive states of J-K, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and parts of the northeast are flocking to Kota to be coached for entrance examinations to top engineering (JEE) and NEET, among others. They want to leave behind the conflict at home, and dream the great dream - of becoming doctors and engineers. They feel Kota, the Rajasthan city that is a coaching ‘sweatshop’ of sorts, with its cramped accommodation and punishing study schedules, guarantees success.

This is a recent trend, as data received from coaching centres Allen Career Institute, Resonance Eduventures and Career Point reveals. In 2016-17, Allen enrolled 6,798 students from naxal-affected Chhattisgarh compared to 1460 students in 2011-12 . Numbers from J-K went up (in the same period) to 456 from 119; and for the northeast it was up 1,134 from 309.

Resonance Eduventures has said that its student numbers from 2011-12 were: 227 from Chhattisgarh, 77 from J-K;, 427 from Jharkhand and 112 from the northeastern states, which doubled in 2016-17. RK Verma, managing director of the institute, says that in 2016-17, 925 students enrolled with them from Chhattisgarh, 160 from J-K, 913 from Jharkhand and 582 from the northeast.

Students from the northeast (Handout)

Enrolment figures at Career Point Institute of Kota have also indicated a reflected steady rise. Shailendra Maheshwari from the institute said that the number of northeastern students in the last five years increased from 61 students in 2013-14 to 221 in 2016-17. In the same time period, enrolments from J-K increased from 48 to 58.

More than 150,000 students are enrolled in around 40 coaching institutes in Kota to prepare for engineering and medical entrance examinations. Sources reveal that the total number of students from Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, northeastern and J-K enrolled in the coaching institutes of Kota could be around 12,000, 15,000, 1,500 and 1,000 and 1,500 respectively.

Students say they want to leave their homes and get out of the violence-prone areas to chart a better future.

“Curfew and strikes after locals clash with the security forces hamper our studies when we are at home. I have seen violence since my childhood and realised it was important to get out of there for further studies and better career prospects, says Usman Ali, aged 16, also from Kupwara. He is being coached for JEE and is keen to join spires to join the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar. “I found out from the internet that Kota was a coaching city and decided to join a centre here,” he says.

Jahangir was in Class 10 in 2016, when Kashmir was going through a particularly intense period of turmoil. “Our schools remained closed for around five months from July to November following violence in the Valley so I had to study at home and later scored 78%”, he says.

His parents want Jahangir to study further, but “circumstances in Kashmir are not congenial for education so they have sent us to Kota for NEET coaching,” he adds.

Students from the northeast have had their share of problems. Jain, a Rajasthani whose great grandfather settled in Manipur 70 years ago, has been coaching for NEET for the last two years. He decided to move to Kota because of the childhood memory of a bandh due to violence in Imphal. “When I was in Class 6, there was blockade for six months in the state due to ethnic violence and I could not attend school,” he says.

Sanaba Moirangthem, 17, and also from Manipur and studying for NEET, says the school infrastructure in his home state is “sufficient,” but students are compelled to go to other towns for further studies because of lack of quality coaching facilities and ethnic violence.

Lalminlum Hangsang from Dimapur district of Nagaland, studying for JEE Advanced, says though his state is relatively peaceful now in comparison to what it was two decades ago, education levels are not competitive enough to enable students to crack tough exams like JEE.

Shahid Akhtar, also studying for NEET, comes from the naxal heartland of Garhwa district in Jharkhand. Though his village remains untouched by violence, others are not. “Fear of violence always remains at the back of our minds and has always been a source of tension when we were growing up,” he says.

So when he heard of success stories of students from Jharkhand topping AIPMT and JEE in the past, Akhtar says he “decided to rush to Kota”.

Naveen Maheshwari, director of Allen Career Institute, says a number of students from states like Chhattisgarh had topped the All-India Pre Medical Test or (AIPMT), precursor to the NEET, between 2010 to 2012, while students from J&K, Jharkhand and the northeast states had also achieved success in medical and engineering entrance examinations in recent years. This also motivated teenagers from the restive states to come to Kota for coaching and give wings to their career dreams.

First Published: May 03, 2017 15:24 IST