Education
A Latur murder reveals the dark side of Maharashtra’s education system

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A 34-year-old private tutor, Avinash Chavan, who ran coaching centre “Step by Step” was shot dead on June 25 in Latur, the city which had caught the country’s attention two years ago because of severe water scarcity there.

The police investigation has revealed that Chandankumar Sharma, owner of another coaching centre ‘Kumar Maths Class’, had given a contract of Rs 20 lakh to the killers to eliminate Chavan out of “professional rivalry”.

Sharma, a mechanical engineer, came to Latur from Bihar in 2009 as he was attracted to the city known for its merit toppers and coaching classes. After serving in a well-known college for a couple of years, he started his own classes and gave tuitions to class XI and XII students in Science and Maths. Initially, Chavan worked with Sharma but soon parted ways and entered into the “market” as a “disruptor”. He charged a fee of Rs 3,000 per subject, which included Physics, Chemistry and Biology and Maths, at a time others were charging Rs 20,000 per subject. Soon, Chavan opened five branches and planned the sixth in nearby Nanded. So much was the prosperity in the business that he distributed prizes worth Rs 1 crore to students to encourage admission in his classes.

He became famous when Bollywood actor Sunny Leone inaugurated his gym called Adolf in March. Dr Shivajirao Rathod, superintendent of police, said that Sharma was jealous of Chavan’s professional success.

The incident has unearthed the dark side of the business of education in Maharashtra. A town of five lakh population, Latur has witnessed mushrooming of coaching classes in the last decade.

Every year around one lakh students migrate to Latur to take admission in the coaching centres. As per a rough estimate by the local administration, the annual turnover of Latur’s 250 coaching class is around Rs 1,000 crore.

It includes the coaching fees, charges for accommodation, mess and transport.

The picture is similar across the state. Educationalists blame the integrated education system for the mess.

Under this system, if a student attends any coaching class which has a tie-up with any junior college, he will be marked present at the particular college and will not need to attend lectures at that college.

A cut-throat competition in admission in engineering and medical courses has forced parents to go for the integrated system which, they claim, save their wards’ time and energy.

Manoj Gupte, a resident of Mumbai, pays of Rs 5 lakh annually for his daughter Radhika’s tuitions at a coaching class. She secured 95 per cent in standard 10 and aspires to become a doctor. She needs to clear the NEET along with her class 12 examinations to get admission in a medical college.

“This class is best known for its success rate in NEET,” says Gupte. “I won’t mind paying higher fees if that can help her dream come true.”

The state government’s announcement to ban the integrated system has remained on paper only.

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