The IIT Coaching Centre riddle
Recently, the Tata Steel chief B. Muthuraman declared that his company didnt care for IITans any more.
At a recent event organized at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chennai, Tata Steel managing director B. Muthuraman expressed disenchantment with its graduates. “We are not likely to recruit them any longer,” he said, adding his company preferred students from other colleges, who, though less endowed, were more amenable to company training. IIT guys tend to think too much of themselves.l
Source : Mangalorean
I will laugh off the “less endowed” comment. Coming from an ex-IITan like B.Muthuraman, he is probably using some JEE-style mathematical trick to prove his own statement “..IIT guys think too much of themselves” to be correct.
I was more interested to see if he had anything by way of data. Since, admissions data breakup is state secret, it is stunning to hear what he said.
During a recent year under review, 979 candidates from the south zone secured admission. Of them, 769 were from Andhra Pradesh, while Tamil Nadu accounted for 94 successful candidates, Karnataka, 84, and Kerala, for no more than 32 candidates
If true, this statement alone should come like a high voltage shock to the HRD ministry. With such a regional imbalance, what good is a caste based intervention (read quota) going to accomplish ? For every AP candidate who made it, there are plenty who “just missed out”. It is anyones guess that AP will project its dominance further by monopolizing the new OBC quota as well.
He correctly guesses that coaching factories that have mushroomed in AP and Rajasthan are responsible for this grotesque imbalance. A lot of bloggers and magazines have completely missed the point about these coaching centres.
Consider the fictional Q&A
Q) Design a contest which is not favourably biased towards those who prepare for it ?
A) Launch random midnight raids on students houses. Wake them up in the middle of the night and ask them 5 of the toughest questions from any subject.
Grade) Nice try but wrong. Now, coaching centres will merely upgrade themselves to offer a 1-2 hour warning via ground agents about the arrival of the quiz brigade.
There are suggestions everywhere about making the JEE much easier. The question then is how easy must it be so that extra effort in the form of coaching is not of much value ? If it is too easy, then we have a situation where everyone is bunched at the top between 98-100%. The admissions profile will then pretty much follow caste or regional proportions because the law of diminishing returns kicks in early during the preparation stage.
Private gates to public property
The coaching factories do pose a real problem. They now act as private gates to public property. I would not have a problem with such institutes if they catered to Manipal or BITS or other private colleges. Today, we are talking about access to a 1% cess paid by all Indians, rich and poor, hindu or muslim, bengali and tamil. At the moment, there are very few who can afford the 50K-1L plus fees to even get a fair shot at the exams. The first question is have these really become private gates ? Is there still a tougher but cheaper way to the IITs ? While seeking answers to these questions, we must recognize that science magazines, postal study materials, coaching in the form of neighbourhood retired professors, do not count.
As a first step, we must compile data about those who made it without the help of coaching factories. While my sources tell me that very few make it without expensive coaching, we need to have it verified. Self study material and mock exams do not count because they can be made accessible to a much larger group.
Second step, is to maintain the tough JEE standards, but take steps to close the gap between the regular school syllabus and the JEE syllabus. As things stand, today attending JEE classes is like attending two schools with different syllabi at once. The Kota-like residential factories, give an unfair advantage because the students can pretty much ignore the regular school. By all means, ask the toughest trick questions but these must be rooted in something the student has learned in his regular school.
Third step, is to demystify the IITs themselves and tech education to a large extent. I have argued before about the absolute neglect of the three-year programs (BA, BSc, BCom). Our real universities which were once the shining beacons of education are now rotting (please visit Presidency, St Josephs Trichy, American and Madura for a realitycheck). The solution is to give their programs a stake in the new economy. The need of the hour is to convert these three year baccalaureate programs to four year ones. Why on earth cant we have a BSc Physics with computer minor working in a Wipro of Infosys ? Why cant we have BA English with a human factors minor designing web screens in our IT Majors ? We must adapt to changing times, the three year graduates have great difficulty getting L1, H1 or B1, or even EU visas. These visas are the bread and butter of our IT industry. By neglecting these traditional universities, we are digging our own grave.
The governments line of action towards these coaching factories must be, “Please bear with us while we decrease your relevance”.