The phenomenal growth of Kota coaching institutions since the 1990s is a classic case study for Business schools. A handful of professionals who lost their jobs due to the closure of a couple of companies like JK Synthetics in Kota forced them to take tuitions of Engineering aspirants for IIT-JEE. The success of the experiment planted the seed of a coaching system which grew exponentially in a matter of few years to astronomical proportions. As of 2015-16, about 1.25 lac students from Std.8-12 & Repeaters study in more than 50 different coaching institutes in Kota for Engineering Entrance exams of which 5 institutes viz. Allen, Resonance, Vibrant, Career Point and Motion are considered large-sized each catering to over 15000 students any given year. The Kota coaching industry is estimated to be about INR 1500 cr. in terms of annual turnover.
For the past 10 years or so, Kota has consistently registered about 2000-3000 IIT Ranks per year. Thus, the IIT success rate of Kota is under 5%. It is worth pointing out that out of the 2000-3000 Ranks registered per year from Kota, over 50% of them are Repeaters!!
Kota has recently been in the news due to the wrong reasons. It has been reported that 30 suicides have been committed by students in the past one year alone in Kota apparently due to unbearable study & competitive pressures. It must be appreciated that suicide is the most extreme reaction and represents the end of the spectrum of depressive mental states. This means that there must be thousands of students who must be at various stages of depression prevalent in Kota who have no emotional support or guidance available in this hyper-competitive town.
Kota has a typical coaching culture which coaching institutes brand as Kota Pattern. This Kota Pattern is about the following aspects:
- Conducting lectures and problems cum doubts sessions in separate time slots. Lectures comprise of teaching concepts along with solved examples. Lecture halls have a capacity of 200-300 students and hence lectures are non-interactive and one-sided. However, the problems cum doubts sessions are in smaller batches of 50-75 and are interactive. The problems sessions comprise mostly of solving Daily Practice Questions (DPPs) which are prepared by the coaching institute.
- Kota coaching institutes have a tie-up with or run their own junior college. Therefore, students enrolled in a coaching institute does not need to attend the college. This arrangement has tacit blessings of the Education Departments of State Government.
- There are huge number of residential facilities like hostel cum messing facilities, paying guest schemes etc. in Kota due to which it attracts students from all over North, Central & Eastern India.
- There are various hierarchical batches per year in each coaching institute which keep shuffling students amongst these batches after every Test. The so called higher batches (designated by various names) have a higher success rate in IIT selections as compared to the lower batches. The methodology of teaching and testing however in all batches is the same. The differential between batches is in the academic capacity of students only.
Now, let us examine as to what are the fundamental flaws in the Kota pattern.
- JEE coaching must ideally be student-centric and not teacher-centric. This implies that student feedback must be given the highest weightage and due cognizance. This is not the case with Kota pattern of coaching.
- Students must be admitted into coaching institutes via an Admissions Test which is transparent and authentic. Most coaching institutes in Kota conduct Admissions Test as an eye-wash and pass everyone to secure quick admissions. So many undeserving students fall in the trap of JEE coaching when they ought to have not even taken Science.
- Kota coaching institutes segregate students into different batches but do not administer differential teaching methodologies. One size does not fit all and hence the method of teaching to a group of exceptionally brilliant students has to be sharply different than a group of average students. This does not happen in Kota pattern.
- Along with systematic teaching, students have to be provided with clear guidance of how to study, how to evaluate one’s progress and counselling facilities must be made available. Kota pattern severely lacks these aspects. Absence of one-to-one counselling facilities is perhaps a major reason for suicides in Kota.
- There are no refunds given by coaching institutes of fees once paid in Kota.
- The aggressive marketing in print & outdoor media and dubious claims of Toppers by coaching institutes in Kota has over-commercialised the atmosphere in Kota.
- Due to widespread depression and frustration amongst students, a number of unsavoury avenues for entertainment, mental relaxation and stress-release like alcohol, drugs etc. are available abundantly in and around Kota.
- The nature of coaching offered in JEE coaching institutes in Kota is inductive coaching. Make a student go through a large variety of questions in any given chapter so that he can crack the question in the JEE based on familiarity of the question rather than developing the deductive and creative impulse of the student. This type of coaching may help the student to crack the JEE but does not help the student to excel inside the IITs. This is the reason why some IIT Professors jokingly say that IIT has two types of quotas viz. Constitutional Kota and Kota quota !!!
- Kota pattern does not help the student individually to develop their own personal exam strategies.
- Kota pattern does not initiate the student to appreciate the philosophical implications of many of the profound laws, equations and results in PCM which though may not have equity in improving exam marks but certainly is vital for helping the student for a deeper appreciation of the Sciences. Thus, Kota pattern fosters a mercenary attitude in students which is unhealthy for the long-term career prospects of the student.
- Kota coaching institutes offer no help to students to decide their career and choice of branch / college after IIT Rank has been achieved by the student.
An ideal JEE coaching culture must instill deep love and interest in the student about the subjects of PCM and then systematically build the fundamentals of the subject along with problems solving ability of the student in a deductive reasoning based methodology. Thereafter, the coaching institute must focus on building the right exam temperament and helping the student develop the right exam strategy. A mix of teaching and counselling is required at every stage of the 2-years program to make the student comfortable and focused. Many of these elements are missing in the Kota pattern altogether.
The Kota Pattern is thus found wanting on many counts. The recent spate of suicides should make owners and Directors of Kota coaching institutes introspect and change their obsessive hyper-feverish ways of coaching. If they incorporate the points mentioned above, Kota shall truly become the Vigyaan Nagari which it erroneously claims to be as on date!
What is true of the Kota Pattern is to a large extent true of the Hyderabad pattern of JEE coaching as well !!!