Students preparing for competitive examinations such as JEE, NEET, etc. often feel over-loaded for not being able to balance their school studies while simultaneously preparing for competitive exams. Many students at this phase of life feel crippled and think their school life is hindering with the quality of preparation expected of them to crack these competitive exams. They hence switch from a regular school to a dummy school, where they focus solely on competitive exam preparation. The concept of dummy schooling has now become quite popular, and more and more students are enrolling themselves in this system of education for their pre- JEE/ NEET preparation.
What is a Dummy School and How is it Different from a Regular School?
Dummy schools are coaching centres that tie-up with regular schools to reduce the school workload on students, thus allowing them more time to focus on their entrance exam preparation. This concept is most popular for the two major entrance exams for science students – JEE and NEET.
Students in dummy schools have about two classes a day that lasts for approximately one to one and a half hour each day, which mainly focus on board exams and school syllabus. The rest of the day is spent focusing on entrance exam preparation at the coaching centre, for which the classes typically go on for 8-9 hours. In contrast to this, a student from a regular school spends about 7 hours a day in school attending classes for different subjects and engages in extra-curricular activities. Besides this, in a regular school, it is mandatory for students to have a minimum of 75% attendance, failing which students are not allowed to write the year-end examinations. However, due to the tie-up that a dummy school has with a regular school, children there attend school only once a year to appear for the final examinations.
Even though CBSE disapproves of dummy schools, according to a report issued by India Today in 2015, there are about 150 small and big coaching centres in the state of Kota, Rajasthan (which is considered to be the biggest hub for dummy coaching for IIT and NEET preparation) and about 1,20,000 students from all over India take admission every year Besides Kota, other major hubs where dummy schooling is quite prevalent are Patna, Vishakhapatnam, Kanpur, and Chandigarh.
Should your Child Join a Dummy School?
If you are a parent considering sending your child to a dummy school, you need to evaluate both the advantages and disadvantages of this system of education before arriving at a decision. While some feel it works in favour of their kids, others feel it is disadvantageous for their children. Let’s have a look at both.
Advantages of Joining a Dummy school
Dummy school indeed has certain advantages when it comes to aiding a student’s competitive exam preparation.
1.They aid targeted and distraction-free preparation
If your child is self-motivated, focused, and has a set target of entering a medical or an engineering college then dummy schooling can be a boon. At a regular school, your child is made to study a curriculum which may or may not be in sync with what s/he wants to pursue. Dummy schools, on the other hand, provide much more targeted and distraction-free preparation for entrance examinations. At school, children focus only on CBSE syllabi and participate in various school activities, which take up time. In contrast to that, dummy school coaching centres primarily focus on entrance exam preparation thus making sure your child follows a strict routine, which gives them more time for self-study and exam preparation. This, at times, gets overlooked alongside attending a regular school.
2. They create an environment of motivation
Over the course of their 2 years of preparation, there are times when students feel demotivated to study or are unable to focus towards their objective, thus losing track of their goal. However, being a part of a competitive environment where they constantly see others working hard to achieve the same goal, motivates them to work harder, perform better and ultimately get themselves back on track.
3. They save students’ energy, time and efforts
This is especially disadvantageous for those staying in a metropolitan city. A lot of time is consumed travelling from school to home and then going for tuitions. By the time the child reaches home they are tired juggling all these activities simultaneously. This time crunch can cause anxiety among students and eventually leads them to score low grade in boards as well as their entrance exam.
Disadvantages of Joining a Dummy School
Having said that, dummy schooling brings with itself a few disadvantages too since they can’t reproduce the school experience.
1. They don’t encourage holistic development
No matter how much students feel that going to a regular school is monotonous or causes hindrance to their preparation, coaching institutes cannot be a substitute for the school experience. School plays an important part in shaping the life of a student. They focus not just on a students’ academic performance but also on their overall development.
A school provides a platform for each child to become aware of their skills and polish existing skills. For example, if a student is good with language/verbal skills, then participating in debate competitions and extempore provides a platform to hone them. Similarly, taking part in a group project in class inculcates the habit of teamwork, which is integral to any job/organizational setting. When students indulge in diverse activities, it helps boost their confidence and self-esteem and lays down a foundation to chart out a future plan for themselves. A lack of such an environment may rob them of such experiences.
2. They restrict children to limited awareness of career options
It goes without saying that a coaching institute provides students with all the possible resources and exposure so as to get the best result from them, making them believe they have a 100% chance of making it to a top-notch college. With students so focused on their goal and surrounded by everyone who has the same goal as them, they often overlook the importance of keeping a backup plan. Having thought of no fall-back options, students drop multiple years preparing for the same entrance exam and later when they fail to crack the examination, or plan to change their course, due to gap-year(s) and low scores, they fall prey to low self-confidence and self-esteem.
On the other hand, when children attend school regularly, they come across a mixed crowd. School provides an environment for social connectivity, a place where students get to meet other students with different potentials. Whether someone is academically oriented or has other potential skills (ECA/ Sports), they become aware of multiple options that lie in front of them and, therefore, avoid living in a vacuum environment.
3. They do not facilitate emotional support for students
Isolated from the real world and entering a world of competition can have a huge impact on your child’s emotional well-being. While dummy schools take students deeper into academics, they also take them away from their family and support system at the same time. Most dummy schools are residential, requiring children to stay in hostel lodgings. At many points in time, children are subjected to peer pressure, bullying or even excessive stress of academics. When situations like these arise, children are unable to control their environment, and with a lack of a solid support system, often feel burdened, frustrated, stressed, and experience feelings of low self-worth.
4. They don’t focus on social skills development
When a child gets completely consumed by studies with no involvement in any social activity in school or otherwise, it impacts their social skills. Compared to a dummy school, children at a regular school engage in various social activities such as NSS, NCC, MUN’s, school projects etc., which promote interaction with their peers. Such positive social interaction is necessary to foster a good set of social skills, which allows them to work well in a team and present themselves positively in a social setting. These skills become all the more important when they enter a professional setup, where social skills are indispensable. Learning this skill gives them an edge over students in a dummy school, where social skills are not focused upon.
5. They do not inculcate multi-tasking as a quality
Being a part of a regular school makes a child manage time and tasks more effectively. Here a student is required to manage multiple tasks at once from attending classes to making a presentation, participating in school activities, writing the exam and practicals, attending tuition classes, taking out time for self-study, as well as participating in recreational activities. In spite of juggling so many activities at once, students are able to make time to prepare for entrance exams and class examinations as well, which is a feat in itself. As such, a child who attends a regular school gets wired to handle many things at once and do justice to all.
However, these skills often go missing among students of a dummy school since they follow established routines and get into the habit of focusing on one thing at a time. While this practice can help them ace their exams, such students tend to face difficulties in the real world, if one looks at the larger picture. This habit becomes a hurdle when they join college and have to juggle between their academics, classroom projects, college functions and other extra-curricular activities they have to take part in. Such habits can be carried forward to one’s professional life too and can make completing tasks difficult.
Talking about both forms of schooling; while a dummy school focuses on helping your child prepare for competitive examinations, it can backfire if your child is unable to crack the exam, or if s/he is unable to score well in the board exams. So, as a parent, you must evaluate the pros and cons of both the options carefully, since this decision has the potential to impact your child’s future and career.
In case you require further help, you can consult our career experts who will compare the pros and cons of a dummy school in your child’s case, and help you make an informed decision.
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