This is certainly an era of cut-throat competition. With lots of suicide commitments for not having that extra score a few marks more, high school and college going students attending these classes has now become a routine. Coaching centers have become a necessity to crack these competitive exams. One can’t dream of cracking these without getting admitted in of these institutions. Coaching centers can be found in every nook and corner of the big metros or even in our Northeastern Hub Guwahati as well. A large number of students throng these centers with a desire cracking the exams and getting admitted to fulfill their dreams by entering into the country’s most prestigious colleges. NEBR, tries to find out about the education scenario of these coaching centers of the region. Guwahati-based Concept Educations has emerged as one of the leading coaching institute over the last couple of years producing excellent results. The brief are excerpts taken in an interview by Nirmal Singha, Sr. Correspondent, NEBR with Mr. Abhijit Dutta, CEO, Concept Educations in Guwahati. Mr. Dutta is a young leading dynamic entrepreneur in this field of coaching education from the region. NEBR congratulates Concept Educations for coming with good results in the IIT JEE Advance 2015 results.
Mr. Dutta, tell us something about yourself. What encouraged you to be an entrepreneur in this field of coaching education?
What encourages me is the requirement in the market because I originally belong to this place. When I was about to prepare for my entrances I had to go out because, not because I wanted to go out but rather because I didn’t had options out here. So this requirement, the great void that there was in the market which force people to go out for other places; adjust in different sort of climate and different sort of food, you know incur a lot of extra expenses and a lot of stress on the parents part. They had to send their sons and daughters out of home so far away just after class ten, that void is what encouraged me to fill it up.
We would like to know the journey of Concept Educations, from inception till date.
Concept Education was an Idea that was germinated back in 2005 when I just got into college. So we started working on it mentally and everything was structured on a very small scale of course and we finally launched it in 2006 with 30 student.
So, as of now how many centres do you have and what is the total number of students.
I have five centers. Three of them are here in Guwahati. One is in Silchar and the other one in Sibsagar. The Sibsagar one is our new center. Our total number of students is something around 2000 odds.
Why do students from Northeast get less selection in IIT, AIIMS, IIM etc. as compared to the other parts in India?
The main reason for success for other parts of the country when it comes to competitive exam is the cooperation that the coaching institutes receive from schools which is not here because I have been a student in Kota myself and I have seen the cooperation the coaching institutes receive from the school. The schools cooperate with them. They don’t harass the students for attendance. They realize that coming to school and spending two hours doing library class and games class and pt. classes; these are waste for a student who is actually aspiring for an IIT or AIIMS or something like that. For a general student it is okay but somebody who has particular aspirations, wasting time in library period, and sports period and assembly is a waste because the competition is high. And why students in here are doing less than the students in North India and South India is because those students have five hours of extra study time every day for 700 days. That’s a huge timeframe. Five hours into seven hundred days is three thousand five hundred hours. That’s almost twice the time of preparation that they get than what students over here get. So a student getting a rank of say three hundred from Guwahati attending school every day, is for me it’s more valuable than a student sitting in Kota and getting a rank of hundred because he has double the time, because he doesn’t have to go to school. This factor has to be considered.
Apart from this factor of strict attendance by the schools, which consume a huge time for an aspiring entrance student, are there any other factors that obstacle our students.
One more factor is that which I feel being in this profession is the attitude of the parents. Parents in North India, South India are hungrier than parents here. Parents cushion their children less. In here parents cushion their child. They are like “Okay I you can’t do this, we will do something else. Don’t worry we are there. We will send you somewhere.” You go out to a state like Bihar, U.P, Rajasthan, M.P. they don’t do it. They are like, “Either you do brilliantly in your academic or sit in the shop, take up the shop. If you have to study, do brilliantly. No need to become an average engineer.” They are like that. They have that cut-throat attitude at home. For e.g. there is some family marriage or party or anything, parents will themselves tell the relatives, “No! my son/daughter is in IIT preparation now. Nothing will happen for two years.” Two years completely closed down. This doesn’t happen here. So the reason is parents. Attitude is not that hungry and the schools don’t cooperate and the third reason which actually comes out of this two reasons is that you know when you have a neighborhood where every second house has produced and IIT’ian the next kid is motivated. In here when you rarely find someone, its difficult to get them motivated.
What about the faculty structure available here in Concept?
We have around forty faculties. Most of them are from IITs or NITs apart from the bio faculties. Bio faculties are from Universities who are all masters in their subjects. That is our faculty structure and everybody teaches on the same module pattern that we prepare. We prepare a common pattern of teaching which everybody follows. So if a student attends a class in one of our Guwahati centres or in Silchar or Sivsagar, they will know that they belong to the same institute. They don’t belong to different institutes.
These days we see coaching centers are growing like mushrooms. How do students select the right coaching center? Where do you see Concept Education in this race?
I would say, if an aspirant is very serious, he would start his research atleast 8-10 months before he is about to join an institute. Nobody window shops for institutes. Its not like buying clothes. Its not a product. It’s a service which will decide your life. So if an aspirant is serious, they do their research and the research mainly consists of talking to ex-students. Finding ex-students from a particular institute and talking to them. You cannot do a research based on ads. Publishing ads is our duty because it’s a commercial institute, we have to. We have to reach out to people, that’s a part of commerce but you know real feedback, you will only get when you research on ex-students and I believe the students that come here, most of them do their research well and the ones who do their research well are the serious ones. They are the ones who produce the results. And that is actually a very big reason because of why we get the cream of the students. There are a lot of coaching institutes, yes. But, if you watch carefully we get the cream because of this mouth feedback that we have in the market.
Generally the fee structures of coaching institutes are pretty high. How do meritorious but poor students avail these coachings?
See, I can’t speak for other institutes but we have schemes where students who belong to poor families, they can furnish some documents which proves that they belong to a low income group and we have special scholarship schemes for them and which is also independent of the merit. Its not like you know, you will find a lot of institutes and a lot of individuals who will say that if a student is really meritorious I will give him free. Even big schools will give him free. I don’t believe that they are actually doing some good because you are taking a very bright student for free, he will give you back more than what you gave him. So, we have schemes where we don’t really decide on merit, we just see that if the student is genuinely needy. Documents like a BPL card, documents like a parents salary proof. Those things we take and we verify if it is an authentic thing and then we have a lot of discounts schemes. A lot of students are actually doing it. You see a lot of successful students also a lot of students who are on 100 per cent discount here are also doing good. We also have schemes for meritorious students where we provide them free fooding, lodging everything.
Are you aiming to venture into mainstream education sector such as school or college?
Not college. I aim to venture into primary schools because I don’t want to go into higher education because a lot has been done for higher education. A lot of people are doing a lot of things but what if feel is that you cannot improve the country by improving higher education. You have to attack and improve the basics. If you teach a student well ethically, honestly for the first 10 years, he will study on his own for the next 10 years. But if the basics are gone, whatever higher education you provide its not going to produce what you are wanting to produce. If you take an example, say IITs were opened, I guess 55 years back. Jawaharlal Nehru opened the IIT with an aim of improving scientific research and technological research in India, nothing has happened. IITs have not become a research oriented institute. It has become a commercial institute. IITs produce more entrepreneurs than researchers. Why is it happening? Because the basic education is not correct. So, if I had to contribute something to mainstream education I would like to do some research in commutative science and go into primary education. I don’t want to tell the students what to study, I want to tell them how to study.
Any particular hurdles in this field of coaching education?
Hurdles, yeah. Mushrooming growth, irregulated structures. There is no quality control and I speak on behalf of the industry here. No matter how clean and how ethical I am, if the whole industry is mushrooming in an unethical manner it somehow hampers me as well because it towns my image as well. I think there should be some regulation about it. There must be regulations even in publishing advertisements. The media houses should take up responsibility of accepting advertisements after verification. They do it randomly now. Whoever can publish whatever, and once its published its published. You can’t do anything about it. So the media houses should be strict about it and the main hurdle we find is the schools don’t cooperate. Things like you know, the schools they get to know that this particular group of students goes for a particular coaching institute and they will deliberately hinder them. They don’t co-operate at all. So that is another thing and parents very easily fall for their children’s excuses of “This is too hard for me. I don’t want to do it.” But actually the reason is not its too hard but because he doesn’t want to work hard and parents fall for it. Parents need to be strict.
Are you planning to open up a few more centers in the near future?
Yes, probably towards Dibrugarh, Jorhat, towards upper Assam. And then after that may be a couple of centers more in Assam and then we have plans to move out towards West Bengal.
What about other parts of northeast. Aren’t you keen to keep your presence in our other seven states as well?
Other parts of Northeast, I don’t have any plans as such right now because students from other parts of Northeast are already coming here. So my target is to make Guwahati “The Hub.” Because you know when students from outstations flock into a city a lot of people benefit including the students other than the coaching institutes, other than us. The hostel owners, the shops, the stationary owners. Everybody benefits. That is what we want to grow this as a Hub.
What would you like to suggest to young aspirant doctors and engineers of this region?
Not to take the easy path.
Source: North-east Business Reporter