Coaching industry in the midst of a pandemic-induced churn

Mixed fortunes for even the biggest players in the sector

Like many other sectors, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a paradigm shift in the burgeoning coaching industry.

While the transition into virtual classrooms has enabled some well-established institutions to lure students, many small and medium-scale centres appeared to lose the competition.

Coaching institutes would normally buzz with activity during the months leading to competitive examinations including the State’s entrance examinations KEAM, NEET and the JEE–Main. But the pandemic has robbed them of their usual business for two years on the trot. This has forced several job losses and wage cuts in the industry. Allied sectors including the student hostel and printing businesses have also come to a grinding halt.

The scenario has presented a mixed bag of fortunes for even the biggest players in the sector. Brilliant Study Centre, Pala, which jumped on the e-learning bandwagon last year, has witnessed an increase of roughly 25% in enrolment for its crash and repeaters’ courses. Students from as far as the Middle East and the northern Kerala districts have registered for their classes, George Thomas, one of its directors, says.

However, around 50 hostels, some directly run by the institution, have remained shut down for two years.

Riju Shankar, director of Thrissur-based Riju and PSK Classes, says the churn has led to a situation in which institutions that failed to retain their competitive edge could lose significance. To prevent the feared exodus to institutions in other places like Kota, institutions here are forced to make additional investments to purchase customised online teaching and assessment tools. Besides, profits are bound to take a hit with the pandemic affecting several livelihoods and institutions forced to reduce their course fees.

Faced with mounting loan and rent dues, almost all coaching centres have effected salary cuts in a bid to prevent closure. A teacher who was laid off by an institution in Kochi, says he was assured of re-employment once physical classes resume.

Despite being spoilt for choices in terms of options, not all students are enthusiastic about coaching in the online mode. Thiruvananthapuram native Shreya Roshan feels students tend to lose focus during virtual classes that presented several distractions one would not normally encounter during offline sessions.

However, Satwik Sivam who pursues entrance coaching in an institute in the State capital feels otherwise. The opportunity to study from the comforts of his home has been a huge advantage for him, he says.

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