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Private tuition in higher education: Mece or saviour?

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 May 2016 12:00 AM GMT

Rishi Das

With the mushrooming growth of private tutorial centres and money-centric mindset of tutors, the very ethics of the teaching-learning mechanism is in jeopardy. While trend of a tuition-dependent psyche is set at the early stage of education in the minds of guardians, its impact, in most cases, becomes catastrophic in 10+2 stage. In an age where private tuition has gained prominence and is fast becoming the norm, a holistic approach of its domains needs to be assessed so as to provide an insight into the prevailing academic atmosphere and judge its veracity as a cause or solution to our ailing education system. There are different schools of thought on advantages and disadvantages of private tuitions.

· Guardians usually start hunting for private tutors even before 10th standard results are declared. They make a bee-line in the corridors of tutors for entry, no matter what type of coaching guardians or their wards desire, whether individual, group or package. Of late, however, tutors prefer package system with advance payment, as risk factors are less even if students either drop or flee. This package is for one subject alone in a combition of three subjects. The rate of tutors varies from Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000 per subject.

· The intake of students per group ranges from 12-15 with maximum of three sittings per week having permissible duration of one hour.

· Tutors usually do not bother about the background of the students- intelligence/medium/affiliation, and all are bundled together in the same batch. Students often prefer to join same batch as peer friends of schools.

· Majority of these students are usually enrolled in reputed institutions like general colleges, junior colleges, CBSE 10+2 schools.

· It is a common notion among the guardians in particular and students in general that a tutor who has high intake is a good teacher, as competency of that particular tutor as teacher is never questioned.

· Majority of these teachers with some exceptions consider education as a business commodity. Ironically, a large number of teachers in the last one decade have joined the profession not by choice but by need.

· These tutorial centres and tutors could make their inroad into such a sensitive are due to several reasons, primary being perhaps the ban imposed on college teachers that debarred them from engaging in tuitions.

It is a known fact that there are two sides of every coin and everything has its advantages and disadvantages.

The ever increasing stress of performing well is making it difficult for students to cope up and ultimately parents think to put their wards in private tutoring for coaching and for extra revision. Abdul Jelil, an experienced teacher and also the Inspector of Schools, Tinsukia viewed that private tuition was advantageous for meritorious students who seek to clear doubts on confusing concepts which otherwise is not possible in the classroom teaching. According to Uttam Duarah of Women’s College, Tinsukia, a dedicated tutor usually does not discrimite the students on the basis of their economic background, nevertheless there are many instances where tutors as gesture of magnimity provide free coaching to bright students from weaker society adding that private tuitions though often strengthen the fundamentals by conducting mock tests to assess student’s strengths and weaknesses, on contrary the student loses his creativity and independent thinking, Duarah opined.

Several surveys have found the performance of primary school children who did not go for tuition to be slightly poorer than those who did, but the difference in performance is not very large. At higher grades, the problem is self-reinforcing because teachers assume that their pupils go for such tuition and change their teaching methods accordingly. (Jayati Ghosh, Frontline, November 6, 2009)

Such fungal growth of coaching centres which feed upon the vulnerability of a student’s performance and a guardian’s expectation is not an ailment but a symptom of a far more degenerative disease plaguing the education system of our country. A lower income household has much more pressing needs than to consolidate its income on expensive tutorial classes for a child, who could have received the same level of education if the institution in which he is studying provides him with adequate and supplementary knowledge. This is completely against the Right to Education policy which expects to offer non-discrimitory education at all levels. By curbing tuition among institutiol teachers, the government might have stopped dilution of teaching ethics in those institutions but this is not enough. If the quality of academics and adoption of newer, better and resourceful methods of teaching is not imbibed among the institutions, students will continue to look for alterte arrangements, falling prey to dubious coaching classes.

With government spending reduced by 19 per cent on education, and policies towards more privatization, education will nevertheless be a money-spinning venture rather than knowledge centric exercise in the coming days. Even Sudan spends more on education than India and ironically India stands way below in global literacy levels as provided by World Bank data.

Guardians need to stand up to this mece, every student should demand quality teaching and every teacher should abide by their principles of morality. We can talk a lot about changing the system but as Gandhiji said, we need to be the change we need to see in others. Filly, if the student is brilliant and does not need extra help, parents should not put him in private tuition just because his peer friends insist on joining the group.

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