In the last week’s Education Supplement in the Deccan Herald, one of my articles appeared. The online version is here.
Here’s a slightly longer version of the same.
Tuition classes have come to be a mainstay and are a big part of our educational ecosystem. With the kind of competition children these days face at every stage, parents are stressed like never before to make conscious choices that will help their children score good grades and earn good marks at every stage. Here’s a summary of a study conducted to find out the current scenario in the world of tuition classes.
Starting out age for tuitions
Children in Bangalore seem to normally start tuition classes somewhere around the 7th or 8thstandard. Many parents, teachers, and students however think that tuitions are really not a necessity till the 10thstd if the child is able to pay attention at school and keep up with his school assignments. If one of the parents is able to spend at least an hour at home with the child in going over school work and giving attention to wherever a child may need some extra help with, tuitions can be avoided, says Ms. Aashima Kalra, a high school Chemistry teacher at Bethany High.
However almost everybody is of the opinion that Science students need the extra coaching classes in the core subjects to gain the competitive edge for entrance exams to get into professional courses.
Math, Science, Hindi are by far the most sought after subjects for which students seem to constantly look for tuition classes. Ms. Minakshi Garg, who teaches primary school at Head Start in Koramangala and who takes tuition classes for Hindi and Math says that for Hindi alone, kids seem to start tuitions fairly early in Bangalore, in fact as early as class 1. Hindi, as a language, is not easy for a child coming from a non-Hindi speaking background. With tuitions, a child is able to know enough of the language to get good grades at school. She goes on to add that in Bangalore, many children seem to find enough help at home for Science and Mathematics in their primary school.
Ms. Neethi Agarwal, a mother to 2 boys in primary school, says that though their mother tongue is Hindi, her boys do not identify with the Hindi script. In fact, her older boy primarily spoke English at home with his parents, which made learning Hindi that much more challenging. So, they consciously chose to converse in Hindi at home to make the learning process easier on her second son, she concludes.
Do tuitions help?
Here are the scenarios where extra tuition classes are said to be warranted.
The number of children per class in the school is high that no matter what a teacher does, there is only so much she can do to reach to every student. In such a case, students are likely to need extra teaching to finish up everything the school is likely to not be able to teach. More often than not, an ideal number of students in a classroom is around 30, says Ms. Rita Dewang, an ex-teacher who has taught high school for many years in Bangalore, Delhi and in Calcutta.
Parents do not have the time or are not equipped to give the students the necessary help at home.
Students who are already good at school and need just that extra push to help them climb from scoring 85% to scoring anywhere above 92%.
Not all school teachers do a good job of imparting the concepts and addressing the different needs of the students. Many teachers agree to the fact that a teacher in a classroom is trying to address the needs of a variety of students who have different grasping abilities. Even in good schools, only about 40% of the teachers use creative methods and give their job a 100% says Ms. Aashima Kalra.
Janani Hari, who recently completed her 10thCBSE and scored 93% says she went for Math tuitions, in spite of knowing that she will be able to do well even without the extra help. She went on to add that her tuition teacher would make his students do the important formulae and theorems over and over again, which made her Math exam a breeze through. The ease with which she was able to prepare for her exams, and the confidence with which she was able to face her paper became easy thanks only to the methodology used by her tuition teacher. Her father was only too happy to send her to classes knowing fully well that the classes were going to give her the extra edge. Now that the results are out, they are satisfied with the 99 marks she scored in Math.
The cost varies a lot depending on multiple factors; the most important factor being how good or effective a certain teacher is in extracting the best out of her students. On an average, it is seen that, teachers charge about Rs. 1000/- per subject per month, and teaching about 2-3 hrs per week. However there are also teachers who charge only about Rs. 300/- per month.
There are also teachers who charge as much as Rs. 300/-per hour for subjects such as Math, Physics for the 11th, 12th standard students. These teachers are also likely going to be teaching those students who are already scoring 85%+ and need that extra edge to make it to scoring the 90-95%.
Coaching centers that target concentrated training for entrance tests towards professional courses during the 11th and 12th std charge about Rs. 35,000/- per year for the core subjects.
Whether a child is stressed or not mostly depends on the child. There are children who take their work seriously and do what it takes both at school and in the tuition class that they attend. However, there are students who claim to have done their work in their tuition class at home and simply skip doing studies at home. So, there are many sides to the same cause.
There are tuition teachers who punish students who do not complete tuition assignments - including beating up and yes, this includes high school students, says Ms. Aashima Kalra. And in a typical good school, teachers never raise their hands on the students she says. So, the students, because of the fear of the punishment tend to sometimes give importance to the assignments given in their tuition class than the assignments given at school. Depending on the nature of the tuition class and the nature of the student, the stress levels vary.
Some parents find it hard to spend time with their children for multiple reasons; both the parents working full time is more often than not the common reason. Some moms, who work full time, think it is probably better for the child and the parent if the child goes to tuition classes. The reasoning is that the child is likely to listen to a teacher better and parents can lose patience with their children when they don the role of a teacher.
One also hears of “special tuitions” where the tuition teacher invariably prepares her students by leaking the questions that the students are going to face in class tests. This is possible only when the student goes to tuitions to the same teacher who teaches at school too. It seems like there is a long way to go before we come up with an ideal education system where we are able to eliminate negative pay-offs from the system.
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