The illusion of excellence of Seemandhra edu-sweat shops

Photo: Recent advertisement by Sri Chaitanya College

By: Soonya

You keep hearing that a handful of educational business groups who have ‘captured’ the educational landscape in the pre-university education through excellence.

There is no bigger lie than this.

I will illustrate how they do it and have done it.

The edu-sweat shops

Some smart teachers from Nellore and some from Guntur started these sweat shops long ago in those two towns by creating a punishing schedule of forced learning focused on ‘vomiting’ what the professional education competitive exams need.

Since the number of questions any examiner can ask are finite, these people analyzed and consolidated the possible questions and figured out how one can ‘train’ students to handle these and ‘crack’ the entrance test.

A short detour of history

The green-revolution enriched farmers of Seemandhra (Krishna, EG, WG, , Nellore mostly) figured out that education is the new game, like MN Srinivas the celebrated sociologist says that the upper castes figure out that westernization, consequently western education is the way to go (which he called ‘westernization’, ) started investing the surplus from both the Arthur Cotton enabled irrigation facilities and the ‘smart’ exploitation of waters from Telengana in the newly merged state.

It is another question that the lower castes occupy the space left by the upper castes and aspire to imitate the upper castes. One can understand the violence against Dalits in Laximpeta at the hands of a new caste that seem to aspire for power and seem to succeed, from that perspective!

Earlier when AP did not have enough professional education facilities for the emerging demands, the green-revolution borne neo-rich sent their children to Karnataka , TN and in some cases Maharashtra for pursuing professional education – in this case medicine and engineering.

Obviously these could not compete and get seats in the institutions available in AP.

Interesting to note that many political big-wigs including some chief ministers studied in Karnataka where their parents could buy seats for their children. This was in 70’s!

Meanwhile the brightest Telangana people got seats in professional education institutions located in the region and others who could not get seats went for other degrees. Again given the low value for education in Telangana and lack of affordability and accessibility (not enough degree colleges) not all the seats in Osmania University were accessed by Telangana folks! Even in 80’s there were quite a few from Vijayawada studying in OU!

The myths

The Seemandhra edu-sweat shops have found a way of fooling people through their ‘cunning’ (borrowed from Vijayshree, elsewhere on MissionTelangana site) and spreading lies conveniently.

Listen to the feverish advertisements of these institutions on all TV channels after the tenth standard exams – ‘1th, 4th ….167th, 167th 167th etc., ranks of our students’ – and boast about their conquests of the competitive exams! When you hear these ads on the TV one is reminded of the vegetable vendors in Koti!

The tricks and how they use them…

Each of these edu-sweat shops claims that they got 100 or 200 ranks in IIT or in EAMCET in AP.

With all the ad glitz, gullible people send in their children to enroll into these sweat-shops paying whopping fees!

Once they get the numbers they keep constantly screening for the bright students among the lots and keep segregating them through regular tests.

The best are herded into cohorts, who receive the ‘best possible’ teaching with their best teachers – and they keep pushing these children who are already heavily motivated.

Viola! These kids from these small cohorts make into the best institutions locally or nationally, and obviously!

The cheating

If all the children pay the same fee why should some children get better teaching or teachers?

If some one wants to figure out find out the salaries they pay to the teachers – for the apparently ‘not smart’ children’s classes the faculty pay would be the least – I am told in the vicinity of 6000 to 8000 per month while the ‘best’ teachers focused on the best students get anywhere upwards of 50000 INR in some cases they pay about a lakh per month!

You guessed right. The number of these highly paid teachers and the cohorts they teach would be a minuscule percentage of the total number of classes or cohorts these edu-sweat shops run!

Gullible parents believe that their children will make it into IITs or the best institutions in AP! These parents also push their children irrespective of their potential or aptitudes, sometimes leading to tragic and extreme outcomes such as suicides!

A simple question that no parent asks (even educated parents) what is the percentage of children who make it to these so called coveted institutions!

My suspicion is that it would not be very different or statistically significantly different from government colleges! 50-100 students making it out of thousands of students!

Some of our Ph.D students in the education field should study the numbers and publish them.

From their ill-gotten wealth, the Seemandhra education industry keeps advertising both on TV and in print media. And these college owners masquerade as ‘educationists’ and the government invites them to influence policy either directly or indirectly. A vicious self-reinforcing cycle!

No media person ever challenges these claims, because they get ad revenue from these education criminals.

Instead they even publish advertorials or paid news – unfortunately I have seen such ads even in Namasthe Telangana newspaper and T News TV channel! Sad. Otherwise I have high regard for Namasthe Telangana newspaper, which probably has one of the finest editorial standards.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

These statistics peddled by Seemandhra education institutes are lies masquerading as facts and truth.

Long ago I had an argument with a professor with a Ph.D., (and we presuppose that having Ph.D is like having a certification in scientific methodology) about the myth that Muslims will dominate with their higher number of children per family! Or their so-called birth rates.

One chief minister in the western part of India even propagated a blatant lie through a slogan about Muslims – hum paanch aur hamare pachees – (we two and our 25) obviously referring to the facility in Islam for a man to have 4 wives, and the logic that if each wife produces 5/6 children it would be 25 – and this gentleman who is appreciated by the corporate world (in spite of the fact his fear mongering led to thousands being massacred).

Here is how to understand the truth – nature produces men and women in almost equal proportions (unless we resort to female foeticide), for every 1000 boys nature produces 990+ girls – for in nature girls have a higher chance of survival – some of the boys would die and the balance is maintained

Net net, the number of women available for men is close to 1:1. Imagine if some men have more wives, what happens to the other men? Obviously they have to go without wives.

So the possibility of children is a function of the number of wombs available (for a second assume none of the women have fertility related issues, or the men).

And the number of children a family has is a function of poverty and is highly correlated barring a statistically insignificant connection to cultural practices and religious beliefs. Just to place here for information – a woman can ‘theoretically’ have 35 children in her lifetime!

See – how specious arguments can be built on apparently ‘fact’ based statistics!

That is what the SA edu-sweat shop owners figured out – if a well trained Ph.D can be fooled into believing lies what about ordinary mortals?

When they go on proclaiming ranks after ranks – every gullible parent thinks that his child will be among them. Never it occurs to check the veracity of the claim by asking what is your success percentage and how does it compare with children who do not attend these edu-sweat shops.

I wish some one takes this up with advertising standards council of India (ASCI) or Competition Commission under monopoly and restrictive practices or takes it to the corporate affairs ministry for unfair trade practices.

And is it a coincidence all of them are from Andhra and there are some from Rayalaseema competing as well for the spoils!

I have not dwelt on the impact of the edu-sweat shops on creativity, character building and capability of these children who go through these ‘chicken coops’! That would need another post.

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