Express News Service
JAIPUR: Thousands of students have now started flocking to Kota, the coaching capital of the country.
The economy of the city that revolves around the coaching industry has been badly dented by the Covid pandemic. People in the city are now praying for a rapid return to normalcy so that their earnings can start picking up.
Over 1.5 lakh students come to this city to train for engineering and medical entrance exams every year.
The educational institutes in Rajasthan reopened on Wednesday after a five-month gap. Thousands of students who are willing to resume physical classes have restarted their coaching stints and about 30,000 students have come in from all parts of India over the past 10 days.
On the first day of offline classes, students clapped in unison to welcome their teachers when they arrived to conduct classes. All coaching centres have put in place several safety measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “Due to online classes, we had almost forgotten how offline classes can be so much fun. Our parents are worried about our safety but we will tell them that the arrangements in our centres are very good and there is nothing to worry about Covid here”, said Priyanka Gupta.
Another student Amit Kumar remarked: “As soon as we got the message about offline classes, we were keen to get back to Kota. I and all my friends are very excited on the first day of regular classes because now we can interact with our teachers and fellow students and there is simply no way that online classes can replace this in any way.”
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Kota has around 35-40 major coaching institutes. Around 3,000 hostels and as many messes and eateries offer food and accommodation to the students. These are crucial to boost the local economy which has been hit hard by the pandemic. The coaching industry generates annual revenue of over Rs 4,000 crore which has become the virtual backbone of the local economy.
From the autorickshaw driver to the small trader/vendor to mess and hostel owners, everyone is thrilled with the return of students. The president of the Hostel Association, Navin Mittal, confirms that over 30,000 students have returned to the city in the past 15 days. While assuring that all hostels/messes have put in place all Covid protocols, Mittal said, “it’s a very big relief for all of us as 70% of the city’s economy directly or indirectly depends on the coaching industry. The return of students is like oxygen for our hopes. We hope that the good times that we have lost over the past 18 months will soon return to Kota.”
All coaching centres are following various safety measures. At hostels, messes and coaching centres, biometric attendance has been replaced with registers that have a column for categorising students with influenza-like illness (ILI). They are also being advised on regular medical care and are monitored by medical teams. The institutes say they have ensured that vaccination and complete compliance of Covid protocol take the top priority and almost the entire staff, faculties and students above 18 years have been inoculated at most of the coaching centres.
The coaching institutes have also been asked to ensure the students have RT-PCR negative report and vaccination certificates. The deputy director of the education department has been deputed as the nodal officer to supervise the reopening of classes and will also arrange special vaccination camps for students above 18 years.