It’s easier to shape clay than to reshape any structure that has passed through a kiln. This fact also remains true for a child who is studying between classes IX – XII and is simultaneously preparing for competitive examinations of engineering or medicals. He or she keeps juggling amongst piling subject matters and parents’ frets for their kin’s career keep increasing as they near the secondary and senior secondary school examinations.

In the Indian education scenario, a debate – Whether should a student prepare for Board exams or should he/she prepare for engineering / medical entrance exam? – has remained fresh for last few decades. Approximately 50 per cent of 40 crore students goes through school education prepare for competitive exams. A significant proportion of this lot drops out of school after X or XII for such preparations.

Nearly 12 lakh students prepare for IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Mains out of which only 15-16 per cent qualify for IIT JEE Advance. Around 35, 000 qualify for IIT admissions and there are only around 11, 000 seats all together. Coaching institutes and marketers make a big noise of success of these students, but the base of the iceberg remains below the water levels, 99 per cent of aspirants who could not grab a seat remain in dilemma.

In case, they were not able to get good results in Board Exams, they are certainly going to have tough times finding a good college, and year gaps, if at all, will only add up to questions during job interviews. Those who are amongst the brightest can anyhow make their way. It is important to guide the larger lot, 99 per cent of the aspiring mass and prevent them from getting lost. One way is to start building the basic blocks during schools.

This starts from class VIII, which sets up the tempo early and reduces the pressure on the child, which otherwise used to become a sudden jolt after class X. However, the more critical aspect is to understand the potential of the child. If the he or she doesn’t have the inherent potential to be in the best lot, it is wise to prepare for colleges in the second or lower ranks and simultaneously focus on Board Exams.

Sometimes, the child has great scholastic abilities, though hidden within. Curriculum of the institutes, particularly those helping in test preparations, is usually designed in a way to help the child explore the hidden scholastic abilities. The combination of aptitude, potential and scholastic abilities when nurtured well can bring out the best results. Academicians from schools and coaching institutes are joining hands to design School Integrated Programmes (SIPs), which attempt to balance the preparations for boards exams and others like NTSE, KVPY, SAT I&II, and competitive exams such as IIT JEE, AIIMS and NEET.

Faculty with expertise in test preparations are brought into the system and curriculum is restructured to balance the content. Batches are designed as per the scholastic abilities of peer group to minimise any behavioural complexes. The biggest advantage is seen in time management as the child is no longer required to run from school to coaching, and he/she gets the personal time much needed for sports, fitness, recreation and revision.

The industry will continue to create solutions and evolve for the holistic growth. It’s the time that next generation parents be a part of this evolving system and help their children fulfill a rewarding career without over burdening their young age.

(Director, Study Vault Education Pvt Ltd)