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Marketplace Morning Report

The Indian schools where failure isn’t an option

Anu Anand May 20, 2019
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Abhair (L) sits with fellow pupils at a cram school just outside Delhi.
Victoria Craig/BBC

India has been among the fastest-growing economies in the world in the last decade. But a lack of good schools and universities is letting students down.

Fierce competition for university places has led to an increase in “cram schools” dedicated to helping students get the highest possible exam scores.

These schools take cramming seriously. Homes have been converted into hostels that accommodate pupils, while eateries deliver hot cooked meals straight to students’ desks.

Sixteen year-old Abhair is a pupil at one such coaching institute in south Delhi. He says he wants to work in computer science because it pays well.

Abhair wants to work in computer science (Photo: Victoria Craig/BBC)

Abhair says getting a good job means he can’t afford to relax. He says a test score of anything less than 95% represents failure.

“I wake up at 6:30am, exercise for 30 minutes and then study 13 hours every day. To get into my first choice university, I need to score high enough to be in the nation’s top 150 students,” he said. The chances are a fraction of 1% — that’s why I need to concentrate.”

Click the audio player above to hear the full story.

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