MUMBAI: Coffee at 2am, paratha and juice for breakfast at 6am. This is the menu of a 24/7 canteen at a coaching academy. ATL or anytime-learning centers seem to be the need of the hour, like an idea borrowed from the online learning space and extended to the physical classroom.
After 2 years of online education, tutorials are brimming with students. Most classes have not just gone back to pre-Covid levels, but overshot their capacity by 25%. Interestingly, aspirants taking entrance exams this year, the ones on a deadline for hyper-competitive tests, are now asking for classes that operate night and day, allowing them to make up for lost time. “The shutters are not pulled at our Kharghar centre. Faculty, food, and staff are working round-the-clock in shifts,” said Praveen Tyagifounder of IITians Pace.
‘Online teaching now seen as stop-gap arrangement’
Even as coaching classes have gone to operating round-the-clock, they say that the request for it came from students and parents, who felt they wanted to prepare harder for the upcoming JEE exams. “After learning online for two years in a solitary environment, students have opted for in-person education and community learning. While some wanted intensive coaching, for others it was about clarifying doubts, taking more tests,” said Praveen Tyagi, founder of IITians Pace.
While there were about 10,000 students on the rolls of this academy before the pandemic, that number was crossed last month even as enrollments will continue for another few weeks. Similar to his idea, Gyanmandir Coaching Class runs ‘Abhyaas Mitras’ (study with a senior) for all its students. “Essentially, since the last six months, after the class ends, the students wait back, study with a mentor, complete their homework, take a small test and then go home,” said owner of the class Pradeep Zore. The concept is being adopted by several tutorials which are finding students returning to class with learning gaps and misplaced concepts. “Students who were online in Class VIII and IX have entered grade X with so much catching up to do,” said vice-president of Maharashtra Coaching Classes Owners’ Association Prajesh Trotsky.
It is not just senior students who are facing challenges. “There are those at the elementary level who have never really written and entered grade two or three. The weekends are being put to use to identify areas that need working on.” Trotsky, who acknowledged that tutorials were back on their feet with more signups, were hiring faculty and purchasing additional infrastructure, said they would have to step up to face great challenges.
“Students and parents have realized online teaching can be a stop-gap arrangement, it can act as teaching aid or back-up for a missed class or for revision. But the energy a teacher, a guru exudes, is only possible in a physical space,” he said. At Study Circle, CA applicants will undergo a bridge program before they start preparing for the professional course. Class XII graduates of Class 2022 didn’t take a Class X exam, and the last two years were online.
“Students do not know the basics of accounting, mathematics, and they have lost the habit of writing. This course will help them come to speed with the level they are expected to have before they start the CA course,” said Jinesh Shah, owner of Study Circle. And candidates who lost timestamps of their academic journey in the past two years felt it was time to exercise their mental reflexes long unused.
Probably hence, even edtech firms founded on the premise that online education was here to stay, have also sensed the post-pandemic longing among students to learn via the old-fashioned face-to-face method and turned to brick-and-mortar classrooms . And classes that were forced to turn to wired teaching during the lockdowns have not dismantled their zoom classes, but that’s for solving late-night doubts or for extra sessions. Almost everyone is still offering education in the hybrid mode and is available for ATL.