Kota opposes IIT cutoff proposal

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By RAKHEE ROY TALUKDAR in Jaipur
  • Published 20.10.09
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Jaipur, Oct. 20: The proposal to raise the minimum Class XII board marks for IIT aspirants today faced howls of protest from coaching institutes in Kota, India’s IIT coaching hub with an annual turnover of Rs 500 crore.

They claimed that raising the cutoff from the current 60 per cent would not reduce the craze for coaching — as the government hopes — and that the institutes would start preparing students for both their IIT and board exams.

However, they argued, rural students would be hit hard because they are disadvantaged in the board exams — often lacking good laboratories or teachers at their schools — but face a level-playing field in the IIT entrance tests.

Announcing the proposal yesterday, education minister Kapil Sibal had cited how Class XII students neglected their board studies in the mad rush for IIT coaching and added: “We want to curb the teaching shops that are proliferating.”

“One cannot do away with coaching for IIT; it has become a necessity,” said Manoj Sharma of Resonance Classes, Kota. “If the government raises the board cutoff marks, initially there may be some decline in coaching for IIT entrance, but ultimately the institutes will develop a (module) where emphasis would be laid on both Class XII and IIT exams.”

He said the IITs had been changing the pattern of their entrance exam every year to try and reduce the influence of coaching, but the institutes had survived through research and innovation, evolving strategies that benefited their students.

Some 50,000 students enrol in Kota’s IIT coaching institutes from across India every year, and about one in seven cracks the IIT entrance test against an all-India ratio of one in 50. The students pay tuition fees of Rs 50,000-60,000 a year, and their overall expenses can reach Rs 1 lakh.

Some coaching centres also argued that a higher board cutoff would raise tricky problems since different boards marked students differently — for instance, the CBSE awarded marks more generously than the Bengal board.

Navin Maheswari of Allen Classes said the government’s stand was self-contradictory: it was doing away with the Class X boards to reduce exam stress but was planning to put more stress on students during their Class XII exams.

Pramod Bansal of Bansal Classes agreed: “They should retain the Class X exam where a student is free to concentrate only on his school subjects, and not burden them with high scoring in their Class XII boards when their focus is on entrance exams and their future career.”

Many people, though, would agree with the government that Class XII students’ increasing tendency to stake everything on an IIT seat can be counterproductive. For the thousands who miss out, their neglect of their Class XII studies can handicap them when they later go in for higher studies in science.

Bansal accepted that a higher board cutoff should not affect a student good enough to crack IIT.