By Rupesh Dutta :
NINETEEN-year-old Nchumthung Patton from Nagaland’s Wokha district, a tiny speck on the map of the country’s north-eastern region, almost gave up his dream of becoming a doctor when he could not clear the all India medical entrance examination. The teenager, who hails from a farming family and has seven siblings, had prepared for the ambitious test for one year on his own as his parents could not afford to send him to a city for medical coaching.
Patton is now preparing for the entrance exam again but this time through online classes that have eliminated the need for coaching centres in his village and many other rural parts of the country. Several major platforms such as NEETprep, BYJU’s, ICA Edu skills and Youth4works have started offering online programmes for medical aspirants that prepare students for entrance exams through video streaming. Patton has enrolled with NEETPrep and was provided with all study material -- a pen drive and course work via email -- at a much lesser price than what enrolling in a coaching centre in a city would cost.
According to online education providers, the concept of online video programmes for medical entrance has replaced brick-and-mortar classrooms with virtual classes and given multiple benefits to students especially in rural areas. Kapil Gupta, CEO and co-founder of NEETPrep, who started the platform in 2016 along with his co-founders from IIT-Mumbai and IIM-Ahmedabad, said a classroom programme for a year at a well-known coaching institute for NEET preparation would cost approximately Rs 1-1.5 lakh per annum and additional expenses worth around Rs 2 lakh for accommodation and food if the student is not a city dweller. The amount charged by NEETPrep for its video classes for medical entrance is only Rs 25,000 per year, he said.
Every year approximately 15 lakh students, including around 8 lakh from tier II and III cities, register for the NEET exam to secure admissions in medical colleges including the reputed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as per their rankings. Mrinal Mohit, chief operating officer of BYJU’s, told PTI, “The biggest benefit of integrating technology in education is that it makes learning highly personalised. With digital learning, students can learn at their own pace, in their own style and focus on strengthening their conceptual understanding instead of playing ‘catch up’ with rest of their batch”.