Finally after several episodes of public anger over coaching industry’s unbridled growth related mishaps, frustration of school communities of academics becoming subordinate to coaching, repeated assessment culture related mental health turning epidemic among young students and a mountain of agreeing concern among academics, policy makers and social scientists over adverse impact of coaching on overall quality of school education, the Government has come up with comprehensive guidelines for an estimated Rs 58,088 Cr coaching industry comprising of anywhere 7000 plus big and small outlets in India.
According to a Ministry of Education, ‘Guidelines for Regulation of Coaching Center’ has been prepared and is being forwarded for consideration by States/UTs byway of appropriate legal framework. Education being the subject matter of Concurrent List and considering that regulation of 10+2 level education is majorly in the jurisdiction of concerned State / UT Government, hence, these Coaching Centers are best regulated by the State / UT governments by way of appropriate legal framework. It may also be noted that NEP 2020 has categorically recommended ‘focus on regular formative assessment for learning rather than the summative assessment that encourages today’s ‘coaching culture’.
The guidelines are related to the private coaching centers more so in the context of rising student suicides cases, fire incidents, lack of facilities as well as methodologies of teaching have been engaging the attention of the Government from time to time. Also, 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. These issues have also been raised many times through debates, discussions, and questions in the Parliament, the document notes.
As per these guidelines, the centres cannot enroll student below 16 years of age or the student enrolment should be only after secondary school examination. New and coaching centers existing on the date of implementation of the guidelines, will have to register with the competent authority. In case of coaching center having multiple branches, each of such branch shall be treated as separate coaching center and it shall be necessary to submit a separate application for registration of each branch. The period of validity of the registration certificate shall be decided by the appropriate government, unless cancelled earlier for any reason. Use of the word ‘registered coaching center’ is only permitted and centre shall not use the words ‘recognized’ or ‘approved’ on any sign board or any prospectus or correspondence or communication of whatever nature or at any place.
No coaching center shall engage tutors having qualification less than graduation or make misleading promises, advertisement or guarantee of rank or good marks to parents/students for enrolling them in the coaching center. Importantly, the coaching center shall have a website with updated details of the qualification of tutors, courses/curriculum, duration of completion, hostel facilities (if any), and the fees being charged, easy exit policy, fee refund policy, number of students undertaken coaching from the center and number of students finally succeeded in getting admission in Higher Education Institutions etc.
The tuition fees for different courses/curriculum being charged shall be fair and reasonable and receipts for the fee charged must be made available. The coaching center must issue a prospectus mentioning the different courses/curriculum, their duration of completion, number of classes, lectures, tutorials, hostel facilities (if any), and the fees being charged, easy exit policy, fee refund etc. These details shall also be displayed at prominent and accessible place in the premises of the building.
Within the basic structure of the coaching center, a minimum one square meter area may be allocated for each student during a class / batch. There shall be sufficient infrastructure in proportion to the number of students enrolled. The coaching center building shall adhere to fire safety codes, building safety codes and other standards and shall obtain a Fire and Building Safety Certificate from the appropriate authorities as decided by appropriate government. Among other requirement prescribed are: The coaching center may be suitably fitted with CCTV cameras wherever required and security shall be well maintained. (A complaint box or register may be placed at the coaching center for the students to raise a complaint. Coaching center shall have committee for redressal of complaints / grievances of students. Provision of separate toilets for males and females shall be made within the coaching center building premises.
Also, the coaching classes for those students who are also studying in institutions / schools shall not be conducted during their institutions / schools’ hours, so that their regular attendance in such institutions / schools remains unaffected and also to avoid dummy schools. coaching centers shall conduct coaching classes in a way that it is not excessive for a student and it should not be more than 5 hours in a day and the coaching hours should neither be too early in the morning nor too late in the evening. The curriculum/class timetable may be suitably spaced out to allow the students to relax and recuperate and thus, not build additional pressure on them. Coaching center shall ensure weekly off for students as well as tutors. There shall be no assessment-test / exam on the day after weekly off. During the important and popular festivals in the respective region, coaching center shall customize leave in such a manner that the students are able to connect with their family and get emotional boosting.
Trained counsellors could be appointed in the coaching center to facilitate effective guidance and counselling for students and parents. (iii) Coaching centers are encouraged to involve counselors and experienced psychologists to counsel and provide psychotherapeutic service to students for the resolution of mental stress and depression. (iv) Career counselors may be onboarded to assess the student’s interest, aptitude and capability, and accordingly guide and counsel the students and their parents with realistic expectations to choose the best career option. (v) Regular workshops and awareness weeks may be arranged for parents, students and teachers on mental health and prevention of stress by the coaching center. It should also focus on basic training in health, good nutrition, personal and public hygiene, disaster response and first-aid as well as scientific explanations of the detrimental and damaging effects of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The matter of positive parenting should also be stressed upon in the interaction session organized for parents by the center in the context of students’ mental health, resilience and responsible self-care.
Divyang-friendly provisions such as braille, e-readers, and toilets etc. may be made wherever possible. Support classes may be provided to students with disabilities who require additional support in their academics.
Coaching centers shall organize classes for co-curricular activities for holistic development and enhancing cognitive abilities of students. The coaching centers, while teaching core subjects should also organize counselling sessions for tutor, employee and all students on development of Life Skills, scientific temper & evidence-based thinking; creativity & innovativeness; fitness, wellness, emotional bonding & mental wellbeing, age-appropriate challenges, motivation; collaboration and teamwork; problem solving and logical reasoning; ethical and moral reasoning; knowledge and practice of human and Constitutional values; personal safety (gender sensitization & abuse prevention); Fundamental Duties; citizenship skills and values; knowledge of India; environmental awareness, sanitation and hygiene etc.
In case of violation of any of the terms and conditions of registration or general conditions, the coaching center shall be liable for penalties as follows: (i) Rs 25,000/- for first offence (ii) Rs. 1,00,000/- for the second offence (iii) revocation of registration for subsequent offence.
The Government feels that the National Testing Agency (NTA) is moving towards offering a high-quality common aptitude test, as well as specialized common subject exams in the sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, at least twice every year. These exams shall test conceptual understanding and the ability to apply knowledge and shall aim to eliminate the need for taking coaching for these exams. Students will be able to choose the subjects for taking the test, and each university will be able to see each student’s individual subject portfolio and admit students into their programmes based on individual interests and talents’.
In order to help the students to practice well for NEET (UG) and JEE (Main) entrance examinations, National Testing Agency (NTA), has launched a Mobile App ‘National Test Abhyas’ to facilitate candidates’ access to high quality mock tests online free of cost.
Govt. has taken initiatives in line with NEP, 2020 to address the issues like Common University Entrance Test (CUET), conducting entrance examination in 13 regional languages, substantial expansion of the number of seats in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and setting up of more and more high-quality Higher Education Institutions. National Curriculum Framework (NCF) is taking clear steps to address the curricular matters in schools and matters pertaining to Board examinations that contribute to the current undesirable situation.
Neeraj Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO, PeakMind : “Applauding the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education, it recognizes a groundbreaking shift towards holistic student welfare in coaching centers. With a regulatory framework in place, these guidelines will set a benchmark for quality education with a commitment to safeguarding students’ interests and mental health.
The emphasis on integrated wellbeing covering the entire institutional community, career guidance, psychological counseling demonstrates a shift toward nurturing mental well-being over mere academic success. This move acknowledges the problems that students face like academic stress, aiming to reduce the pressures that often lead young minds to drastic measures.
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.”