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June 12, 2021 Saturday 12:35:25 PM IST

Why the Boom in Private Tuition Business?

"I used to feel guilty whenever any of my students say that he/she attends private tuition classes. More than 20 years into profession now, I am no longer feeling guilty," my colleague Smitha mused while chatting over a coffee. She felt it has become the norm. I could feel some sort of uneasiness surging within me. I befriended some of my students to understand better. They had no complaints about quality of teaching in school but in private tuition they got better attention.

“Teachers follow our progress and create an atmosphere where we have to learn.”  The students as well as teachers know that parents are paying extra money and it should bring result," one boy who was intelligent and getting good grades said. 
 Do they pressurize? A girl who loved Maths and Chemistry said, “Yes.”

"But they make sure that we have thoroughly understood the concept being taught. And we have clarity regarding the objectives and strategies for effective learning. They pressurize only after that," her voice trailed off as if in fear. I laughed aloud and touched her cheek in affirmation. 

Then why is a school required?  "It is a place where we come just because we have to," said a girl who was good at Mathematics.
What is the difference between school and private tuition? 
"Our tuition teacher knows what we have learned and what we have not. School teachers seem to be not sure about it," she elaborated.
“How can we improve?” I asked.
"Teachers should know what we want. Let them keep pace with our learning. Not with the teaching they do," a boy who was a backbencher replied abruptly with confidence. 

The Reality
According to the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) about 7.1 crore or almost 26 % of total number of students in the country depended on private tuition . Parents believed that “schools were not up to the mark” and they need to take supportive measures to get good grades. (Source:Times of  India)

A study titled Private Tuition in India: Trends and Issues published in Open Edition Journals stated that students in government schools depended on private tuition to pass examinations while for those in private sector higher grade was the sole reason for attending tuition classes.

What would be the typical response of a teacher to this data:

-Some sort of resentment towards the inadequacies and discrepancies in the present system of education which prevents the teacher from reaching out to her students as he/she wishes.
-Downright apathy.
-“Relieved” as both her salary (from government) and the appreciation she receives for the success or grades student get in the examination will remain intact.
-“Relieved” as she need not be serious about professional improvement.
-“Afraid” as the student is likely to compare class teacher’s performance with that of tuition teacher.
-Guilty (not many.

Inadequacies in System

What is required is correction of inadequacies in the system, make teachers more accountable and not bask under the private tuition culture spreading like pandemic and not doing anything about it. We cannot allow public money to be wasted or private institutions to levy huge fees and deliver poor service. 

•Equip the schools and colleges to give the students what they require to meet the objectives of education.
•Examination oriented system with emphasis on marks and grades make parents and students to go for shortcuts.  Discourage policies which give too much importance to grades.
•Make sure schools are catering to the academic needs of students belonging to different levels of achievement in a flawless manner.
•Make parents and students aware of their right to quality education. There should be redressal mechanisms to address quality issues.
•Strengthen the student feedback system in each institution. It will help re-shape and re-organize the academic priorities of institutions.
•Increase the space and time allotted for teachers to exercise individual attention inside the classroom atmosphere (e.g. reduce the strength of class).
•Finally each teacher must be capable of explaining the cause of success or failure of a student with much clarity. Her skill in analyzing the underlying factors leading to student success or failure must be refined intermittently. Teacher’s knowledge and experience in student psychology and science of learning must dig deeper into the dynamics of learning atmosphere for that purpose.
•All professional activities which have a direct impact on academics of the student must be attuned to the expectations of parents and the society as a whole. 
Aligning school culture with the preferences of stake holders will help to curb the reliance on private tuitions. Our educational systems should not be viewed by parents and students as something they are not avoiding just because they need a certificate to show the world that they have attended school.

Published in Pallikkutam, June 2021

Dr. Jeny Rapheal

The writer is a Teacher and Psychologist Read more articles..