The motto of Sleepy Classes is that one needs only 3 things to prepare — an internet connection, a mobile phone/laptop, and jazba (passion).
New Delhi: Students dozing on the back-benches of huge classrooms or auditoriums is a familiar sight in India — more so at IAS coaching academies that claim to factory-produce civil servants and teach batches of close to 500 at a time.
But now, a start-up called ‘Sleepy Classes’ wants to change the scene.
It’s not been set up for a laugh. Sleepy Classes actually wants to ensure aspirants do not sleep in classrooms but learn things online at their convenience.
The start-up is the brainchild of three civil service aspirants who couldn’t make it. So, they decided to teach other aspirants how to crack the examination free of cost and the one-year-old portal already has a subscriber base of 1 lakh students.
The content-creation team has now grown to seven members, who use YouTube videos and notes to prepare aspirants for the prestigious but tough UPSC examination.
You just need three things
The civil service coaching industry is pegged at an estimated Rs 3,000 crore, with coaching centres charging anywhere between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh. However, online coaching institutes like Sleepy Classes are trying to change the scenario — they charge only for the test series and their costliest option is Rs 9,000.
A test series features sample papers for different subjects, which a candidate solves as per the time limit set for the actual examination, to gauge where he/she stands.
Sleepy Classes’ motto is that one needs only three things to prepare for the civil services exam — an internet connection, a mobile phone/laptop, and jazba (passion).
“The irony of the name is very strong, because here we are trying to provide free classes to students and we hope this will help wake up other people in the industry, who are charging a huge sum from students every year,” Prerna, a representative of Sleepy Classes, told ThePrint.
“In coaching centres, you have hundreds of people in an auditorium and 70 per cent of them are sleeping. On the other hand, here is a class which is helping you prepare at a time when you need it.”
“We provide the general studies course for free on our website and give an easy-to-understand analysis of editorials and magazines. Things that are hard to decipher for students who are from more underprivileged sections or have not really been to fancy schools have been put out on our portal in an easy to understand manner.”
A lot of the students who have enrolled with Sleepy Classes are from small towns and villages, where internet is available but educational facilities are not. They vouch for the quality of content Sleepy Classes provides, especially their test series.
“I come from a rural background where I did not have access to coaching classes. Sleepy Classes has helped me prepare because they check each sentence word by word, and make sure that they give honest feedback to students,” said Niharika Saini, an aspirant registered with the portal.
Another student, Rony Koonthanam, said: “The content is mostly focussed towards students who are living outside Delhi and do not have access to coaching classes. The content is really good and they have periodic updates with questions and answers that help us prepare for the exam.”
State of the industry
Even though there is no exact estimate of the size of the online coaching industry, a number of big players have stepped into the market, including those who already have an offline centre.
Some well-established names in the coaching industry have also begun shifting base to the internet, such as Shubhra Ranjan, one of the top teachers for political science, who earlier taught at Vajiram and Ravi coaching classes. Ranjan has started her own IAS academy, which has both offline and online classes.
There are also purely online centres like Unacademy — started by former IAS officer Roman Saini, who left the service to start the online coaching programme — and Forum IAS.
Underlining the importance of online coaching, Saini had told ThePrint in an earlier interview that it was going to be the future of coaching industry. “Whatever is the expense of online coaching, it is still going to be less than the coaching centres because one has to pay for food and accommodation as well with these coaching classes,” he had said.
However, there is one big negative attached to online coaching, which offline centres point out.
“Only candidates who are extremely driven can get through the exams by self-preparation or by studying through online tutorials. A large chunk of students prefer coming to classes because they have a fixed time when they have to attend a class and people to motivate them,” said a representative from ALS Academy, a coaching centre in Delhi.