Have tuitions become a necessary evil?
Shanti, 60, in South Chennai, woke up with a start. It was dark but the bicycles were clashing outside and she heard a couple of car doors slamming. She has had to forgo sleep since the house across was turned into a tuition centre. The “batches” start at 5 a.m. and go on till 8 p.m. on weekdays and all day during weekends. Why do the students need tuitions at all, she asks angrily, wondering where she should take her complaint about the noise.
“The only way I could score maximum was with the help of a private tutor who came home to teach me Kannada,” says Umanath Nayak, Consultant Head and Neck Oncologist, Apollo Health City, Hyderabad. He chose to study Sanskrit in school in order to score high, but it was taught and was answered in Kannada. When it came to deciding for his son, he took a considered stand, unswayed by the surrounding tuition mania. If a child is doing fairly well academically, sending him to private tuition for better grades is like punishing him for not scoring as well as his peers, he reckons. May be he has other interests, maybe he feels topping is no guarantee for a great future, maybe he is just plain lazy!
Unless the teen is seriously lacking in grades or wants to be proficient in a subject not taught in the curriculum, don’t send him for tuitions, is Dr. Umanath’s advice. But what do you tell financial consultant Meena who gets a tutor to come home because “her son will not do his home work otherwise?” And students who say that a combination of classroom and tuitions helps them get better clued-in on subjects?
Bina George, Centre Director, Growing Stars, an online tutoring company, sees private tuition as helping children realise their potential. Students need it to supplement knowledge and to compensate skill gaps, she said. She doesn’t believe it reflects badly on school teaching because “children need more practice and additional help for better academic performance.” With computer penetration and video technology, online tutoring is bound to get widespread, since there’s no commuting and it is as effective as home tutoring.
But for now, the system hinges on irony. A student looking for personal attention ends up in a tutoring class that is no less crowded. In a comprehensive analysis, V.K. Maheshwari, former Principal, KLDAV(PG) College, Roorkee, terms private tuition as a venture built on profit motive where “quality of education is sacrificed… and charges levied in excess of expenditure on services provided.” Private coaching institutions exploit the prevailing demand for education, he says. Their success comes from the government’s “inability to provide education to everyone who desires it, provide education of quality perceived to be worthwhile.” These centres promise students the limited seats in credible higher institutions and social support for them is pledged by parents willing to meet the high cost.
He short-lists reasons for the burgeoning of tuition centres:
Cut-throat competition born out of parental ambitions to see children in medicine, engineering, civil services, management and accountancy. High school ranks count, so what do parents and children do?
Slow-learners/academically weak students/those without motivation find no support in packed classrooms and teachers face the onerous task of “completing portions” on time.
Brilliant students need further work.
Many parents are unable to help children with home work.
In today’s scenario, “extra education” reaches only those who can pay large sums for it. Some teachers do not give attention to the pupils in class and lure them for private tuitions. Tuition institutes are earning more money than the institutes to which they send their “specially-trained pupils.” The system exhausts the students instead of educating them. We have no choice but to support tuitions until our education system is cleansed.
“Tuition is a personal choice,” says Naveen Mahesh, Director, HLC International, a progressive school in Chennai. “Tuition with the school teacher or with someone who is in consultation with the teacher can really work wonders.”
He doesn’t think highly of tuition centres. “The reason one goes to tuition is personalised attention that works best one-on-one, something alien to tuition centres.”
“These centres promise students the limited seats in creditable higher institutions and social support for them is pledged by parents willing to meet the high cost. Is there a mechanism to identify and discourage the mushrooming of such institutions?”
Will these suggestions help?
* Uniform syllabus at the all-India level
* More sections and better teacher-student ratio
* Revision of examination policy.
* No duties such as election or census for teachers.
* No interference of politicians/bureaucrats in education matters and policies, decisions taken by educational stake-holders.
* Ban on school teachers giving private tuition.
Super 30 is an innovative educational programme under “Ramanujan School of Mathematics”. It tutors 30 meritorious economically-backward students for IIT-JEE. In the last seven years, the centre has produced hundreds of IITians from extremely poor background. During this programme students are provided free coaching, lodging and food.