When 24-year-old Ansul Majhi, a diploma-holder in engineering, could not land a job in his hometown of Murshidabad, he moved to Delhi to prepare for government recruitment examinations. The son of a railway Group D employee, Majhi worked as a trainee at a call centre in Noida, which helped pay his rent and coaching institute’s fees. Unfortunately, with recruitment exams deferred and his call centre shut during the lockdown, Majhi is stuck in the city without a source of income.
“There are no good coaching institutes at Murshidabad so I thought shifting to Delhi-NCR would help me earn and learn simultaneously. I started preparing for the railway recruitment examination and applied for both NTPC, Group D posts last year. But exams have been postponed and due to the lockdown, I cannot leave the city and have no money to sustain a living,” informed Ansul.
Due to the pandemic, all recruitment bodies, including Staff Selection Commission (SSC), UPSC and Railways Recruitment Board (RRB) have deferred exams. Delhi-NCR is a hub for coaching centres. A survey by tech-AI platform Sulekha reveals the top three coaching categories in Delhi are for UGC NET, defence/ police, and SSC recruitment exams. Every year, thousands of candidates from adjoining states like UP, Haryana flock here to enroll at these institutes. Many are now stuck in their paying guest (PG) accommodations and house owners are either demanding rent or telling them to vacate the premises.
Online education seems good, but not for all
For 25-year-old Mayank Sharma, a resident of Noida for over four years, classes have been suspended and the PG owner demanded he vacated the place, before lockdown on March 25. Mayank is currently preparing for banking examinations- SBI Clerk Main, RBI Assistant Main, which will be conducted once the lockdown is lifted.
However, he has now religiously started following free online classes for preparation. “I have registered for free tutorials available on YouTube. The content is good but I face hurdles as my queries are not solved immediately,” Mayank commented.
Nikhil Chaturvedi from Bhopal came to Delhi with an offer from a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company in Noida. After working for six months, he left the job in 2017, and started focusing on various government job exams. He has plans to appear for the SBI clerk main exam, for which he is preparing through various ed-tech platforms. “I started taking classes at a coaching institute in Mukherjee Nagar, but around the time lockdown was announced, I went back home. I have registered for online classes.”
Apart from live classes, the digital platforms are turning out to be useful for those who have good internet connectivity. “Since many aspirants attend online classes simultaneously, there is a huge buffering issue. Therefore, I have stopped attending them. Apart from this, the mock test series and online content provided by the institutes are useful,” the candidate commented.
Ed-tech live classes
Many coaching centres are running classes via Zoom and similar applications to sustain their business. Besides, ed-tech companies like Adda247, Oliveboard have witnessed a surge in registrations through marketing strategies such as free live classes.
Oliveboard has started live classes- GharPeCoaching – an initiative aimed at bank job aspirants. “Since the lockdown, we have seen a 20-25 per cent increase in daily enrollments already, especially in live classes. The growth rate varies from 20 to 30 per cent across various banking programmes,” remarked Abhishek Patil, CEO, co-founder, Oliveboard.
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Nikunj, who works in a local BPO firm in Pune, follows various social media groups where topics and questions are discussed by coaching experts. “Telegram groups like ‘Lets focus on IBPS, Naukri@govt jobs, RRB, Oliveboard official, and also WhatsApp groups have content. Many candidates share their notes as well.”
Traditional coaching schools failing to cope
Though the top coaching institutes have shifted online, there are others whose activities have come to a halt since lockdown. They plan intensive sessions post-lockdown, packing in more hours, to cope with the academic loss.
The Mitra Institute, Kolkata offers various short-term classes for banking, SSC and railway aspirants. However, they have to stop classes mid-way due to the lockdown. Smita Bakshi, the managing head of the institute stated, “We will start fresh classes with additional sessions after the lockdown is lifted. The classes will be structured in a way that a three-month session can be completed in a month or two, in time for the exam. We will first focus on the banking examinations, which are approaching.”