Key reasons why centre wants to regulate the coaching industry in India - Hindustan Times

Key reasons why centre wants to regulate the coaching industry in India

Jan 19, 2024 04:00 PM IST

Coaching centres must adhere to fair fees, avoid false promises, and ensure the mental well-being and safety of students, says the Education Ministry.

The centre recently announced a set of guidelines for operating coaching centres in the country and emphasised the need to regulate the industry. Key reasons for this, the centre says, are instances of unfortunate deaths resulting from suicides, hazardous settings from which some of these classes operate, high amounts of fees they collect from students and other malpractice being adopted by them.

The centre has come up with a set of guidelines for coaching centres in India(HT File Photo)
The centre has come up with a set of guidelines for coaching centres in India(HT File Photo)

The key highlights of the “Guidelines for Regulation of Coaching Centre” published by the Department of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education, Government of India, include establishing an age cap for taking admission to coaching classes, bringing the industry into the ambit of a legal framework through a process of registration, a way of obtaining true information of what coaching centres would offer, a system to resolve student grievances, focus on mental health and well being of students, among others.

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“The number of unregulated private coaching centers in the country continues to grow in the absence of any laid down policy or regulation. Instances of such centers charging exorbitant fees from students, undue stress on students resulting in students committing suicides, loss of precious lives due to fire and other accidents, and many other malpractices being adopted by these centres are widely reported in the media,” the report says.

These guidelines come against the backdrop of an alarming rise in student suicides in the country, especially the ones committed by young children preparing for competitive examinations – JEE for Engineering and NEET for Medical admissions.

JEE or Joint Entrance Examination and NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) are highly competitive screening tests in India that lakhs of students take every year and only a handful manage to clear.

In 2023, and in Kota alone – a major coaching hub for these two undergraduate-level entrance examinations – 26 young aspirants took the extreme step. The 26 deaths were the highest number of suicides in Kota in a calendar year since 2015.

The centre stresses that the coaching institutes should not make any false or misleading promises to prospective students and their parents and avoid publishing any misleading advertisement relating to any claim of quality of coaching or the facilities.

Fierce competition, packed schedule, extreme pressure, parents’ expectations and homesickness often baffle students. The coaching centre’s way of celebrating toppers creates unnecessary pressure on students who fail to ace these entrance exams, say students and experts.

An analysis of 23 suicide cases last year done by Hindustan times revealed that more than half of them were minors (younger than 18 years), 12 did so within six months of arriving in Kota, and many were from families that are either poor or part of the lower middle-class.

The centre said there can be no discrimination in the coaching institutes on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, and descent. “Special provisions may be made by the coaching center to encourage greater representation of students from vulnerable communities such as female students, students with disabilities, and students from marginalized groups.….”

The centre’s new rules state that coaching centres can not admit student below 16 years of age, or those who are yet to complete their secondary education and declare a fair and reasonable fee structure for courses they offer.

Parents, however, want to know their options.

" We generally admit our children to coaching centres if it fulfils our children's academic purpose and, of course, if they charge fair and reasonable fees. But we want to know about alternatives are there for children below 16 years old," said Sarmistha Das, a housewife and mother of a 15 years old son from Agartala.

The institutes have to ensure the mental well-being of students by avoiding putting undue pressure and establishing a mechanism of providing targeted and sustained assistance to students in distress and stressful situations, the new guidelines say.

“Being a supporter of positive mental health as a goal and integral part of students' journey at every step, Let's see this as a start and hope for more good changes to make sure that students are not just smart in academics but also feel good inside and are ready for whatever comes their way in this journey," says Neeraj Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO, PeakMind.

-Infrastructure requirements-

In another incident of June last year, 61 students were injured while trying to escape a four-storey commercial building when a fire on the ground floor a little after 12pm filled the upper storeys with smoke in north Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar.

A minimum of one square metre area has to be allocated to each student during a class, and coaching centre buildings have to adhere to fire safety codes, building safety codes and other standards, the ministry said.

Violation of these guidelines would result in severe consequences for coaching institutes. The first offence would cost them 25,000, the second one would cost 1 lakh and any subsequent violation would mean revocation of registration.

Registration is now a must for coaching centres. The ones lacking it must complete the due process within three months.

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    Content Producer at Hindustan Times Digital. Writes on Education and Careers. When not working, he is most likely watching a game of football or cooking a new recipe.

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