Deepa H Ramakrishnan
Almost all higher secondary students attend coaching classes after school hours
PONDICHERRY: It is "extra time" after 5 in the evening in Pondicherry: extra time to study for entrance exams by attending coaching classes. And, almost every student studying in higher secondary classes here makes time to attend these classes aimed at helping them get high marks in competitive examinations such as the IIT-JEE or AIEEE or All India Medical Entrance.
Enter any coaching centre, including Maruthi, Aspire, Senthil Coaching Centre or Vetri, and you can see students focussed on what the tutor is saying, with no trace of tiredness on their eager faces after they have attended school the entire day.
"It isn't very taxing, its just two hours every day of studying at the class, and we learn extra from what they teach us at school," say students, who are aiming particularly for the medical entrance exams. Along with science and mathematics, English is also being taught to the students.
The coaching classes start as soon as the new academic year begins, and students get accustomed to attending the classes after school.
"We get to make new friends and study in a new environment," says Anahita Kate of St. Patrick's School, who attends a coaching class.
J. Vijaykumar termed the coaching centres as `fertilisers' for the growth of the knowledge of the students.
Students take entrance exams to get into these coaching classes.
"We conduct an entrance exam and consider those marks along with 50 per cent of the 10th standard marks to make a merit list. This year, our 10th year, we have 300 students," says a lecturer at Maruthi Coaching Centre.
Experienced university and college lecturers handle the classes at most coaching centres. They train the students keeping past question papers in mind. The students are subjected to periodical tests to evaluate their knowledge.
No learning by rote
"We teach the concepts to students in a different manner. We let them think and process what is being taught to them. They are asked to work out problems in their own way, and this method helps them study well. We don't encourage them to learn by rote. We tell them right at the beginning that we are not teaching them to secure high marks in the board exam," says a physics lecturer.
The coaching classes run by the Pondicherry Archdiocese through Petit Seminaire School is conducted only during the weekends.
"We charge a nominal fee of Rs.2,000 for the entire year. We conduct coaching classes for our boys on Saturdays, and for girls from other schools on Sundays. We also conduct a crash summer course for 45 days, for which over 1,500 students apply for the 600 seats," says S. Antonysamy, principal, Petit Seminaire, which was the first school to start coaching classes for entrance exams in Pondicherry.
It has been conducting classes for the last 22 years, and every year on an average it has been able to corner 7 to 8 seats of the 20 seats reserved for Pondicherry students in JIPMER. This year they bagged 10 seats.
"We initially started with the aim of coaching rural students, but with many students from urban areas joining us our school had to give up that idea. Of course, other schools run by the archdiocese have taken up that work," he adds.