Despite lifting of COVID curbs, online learning still preferred by IAS aspirants

A scene at Mukherjee Nagar which is hub of IAS coaching centres in New Delhi

A scene at Mukherjee Nagar which is hub of IAS coaching centres in New Delhi | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA


With the aim of cracking the civil services examination, Patheo Mitra moved from Kolkata to Delhi, the mecca of civil services coaching, in April 2021. Like thousands of other aspirants, he dreams of cracking the exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), to prepare for which he shelled out Rs. 2.5 lakh to enroll in a coaching centre in Karol Bagh. 

Over this amount, Mr. Mitra also pays rent for his accommodation here besides incurring other living costs to attend physical classes. The competitive spirit the coaching centres create, claim many, motivates them to strive harder to qualify for the administrative services.  

But in the last two years, the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns have changed it all. The most sought-after coaching classes were forced to live-stream their teaching programmes. The switch to online classes allowed the UPSC aspirants to study from anywhere in India.

Even after the government lifted the restrictions and allowed coaching institutions to resume offline classes, many students stuck to online mode given the convenience of attending from home. 

Students’ views

Having paid the full fee for the coaching sessions, the students, while living in Delhi, were attending classes online due to the COVID-19 protocols. Consequently, Mr. Mitra and many other students like him, moved back to their respective cities to continue with their long-distance exam preparation.  

“I hung on in Delhi for some extra time hoping to get the benefit of preparing in a competitive atmosphere that these centers provide. But I moved back to Kolkata in January and do not plan to return any time soon though the physical classes have resumed,” he said.

In his opinion, those who opted for online classes from home from the beginning got a better deal. “With the same faculty taking online classes, the standard of teaching was maintained and there was a continuity,” he said.  

Experts weigh in

D.P. Singh, a senior counsellor at Rau’s IAS Study Circle, said the pandemic has changed the rules of the game. 

“Earlier we had no facility for streaming classes live. The pandemic restrictions compelled us to change to online sessions and it worked well. The students also realised they no longer needed to spend money on living in an expensive city like Delhi to attend classes. Rather, they could attend the same classes from their homes with no compromise on the quality of teaching and, invest the time in preparing better,” Mr. Singh said. 

However, he added, the institute is keeping both the options for students, with no difference in content. “This helps the outstation students who are anxious about moving to Delhi,” he further said.

Many students said that in the initial days of online learning they found it strange to make the shift. But they are finding the system beneficial now, having gotten used to it.

Saving costs

Lokesh Tiwari had also moved to Delhi from Kanpur to prepare for the exam, in an academic ambience that the coaching centres create. “But you soon realise, it is the faculty that is more important,” he said, and added, “if it is the same faculty is available online, why would anybody want to sweat it out in a rented house in Delhi? We would rather go back to the comfort of our homes and study. It saves us money and a whole lot of other tensions.”

Even students living in Delhi are considering moving to online classes, to save time lost in travelling to the centre and back. However, not all are convinced about the efficacy of online learning.

Chinsang Soibam from Manipur, who wanted to stay in Old Rajendar Nagar, which is a hub of IAS coaching centres, and get into the competitive spirit with other aspirants, said that the quality of online teaching was good. “But whether it will work out in the long term remains to be seen because physical classes have their own charm and value and teach you things like writing speed and other tips and tricks,” Mr. Soibam said.

He added that physical classes also inculcated discipline in the students as one did not have the option of missing a class and watching the recording later.

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Printable version | May 15, 2022 10:21:14 pm |