IIT : The Foundation Myth

I recently met a senior teacher at a small private school in Kanpur. What differentiates her school from the neighboring schools, she proudly told me, is the superior IIT Foundation coaching. Schools charge premium tuition and teachers higher pay for IIT Coaching. 

As I came out , a bus passed us packed with advertisements for IIT Foundation coaching from Class 8. 

The prominent group of institutions in Hyderabad has introduced a seven-year integrated IIT Olympiad program for students aged 11! 

I meet many teachers and I find that teachers take immense pride in saying that they have taught for IIT Foundation. I have met ladies who have no formal teaching experience, but provide coaching at home for IIT JEE. 

With these experiences, every time I come across the words “IIT Foundation”, I feel uncomfortable. 

While there is nothing wrong with choice and access to service, one does wonder: If students need to spend eight years in preparation from Class 6 to Class 13 (the common “year drop”), is something wrong? 

The letters IIT carry immense brand value: aspirational, matrimonial, whatever. 

I wonder: Are these students “Selected into” IIT Foundation pursuing an interest in Engineering they have discovered early, or are they falling in line?

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