Education for the Elite: Private Tuition Culture on the rise
Besides multiple impacts, the 21 st century highlights the way education is sought and imparted today. Earlier, students headed for home straight from school and rested before sitting down to revise what had been taught in the classroom that day. However, the trend today has changed drastically, where you see students rushing to tuition centers after school, seeking one tuition after another till late evening.
The need for tuition, initially, arose for students who required special attention due to a handicap or long sick leave, etc. In the current times this definition seems to have taken on a new meaning, where opting for private tuitions especially by O/A Level students, whether they need it or not, is considered to be trendy and a trademark for success in the CIE exams.
The influx of tuition centers is regarded as an inevitable force, which is believed to magically instill super hero-academic powers in the O and A Level students. Parents and students consider it to be a lifeline without which good grades are unattainable.
According to the Annual Survey of Education Report (2013), 34 percent of private school students and 17 percent of public school students undertake private tuition in Punjab. Costs associated with “shadow education” are staggering; the report also said in Pakistan, expenditures on private tuitions per child averaged equivalent to Rs 6000 a month in 2011, a significant amount. Rich families are able to pay for these tuitions but this becomes an additional burden on middle-income and poor families, and creates disparities amongst children disturbing the social cohesion. Education from this perspective thus becomes the right of sections A and B only while the rest struggle to make both ends meet.
Private tutoring is turning into a vicious circle, where along with students, parents and teachers are to be held equally responsible. With the mushroom growth of tuition centers serving as a new industry, capitalized opportunities cannot be ignored as often those teachers who are associated with schools are also seen teaching the same students at their respective tuition centers. It has been observed that teachers who give tuitions in the evening reduce their efforts that they devote to their regular classes at school. Students, under peer pressure of excelling in their grades believe that this can only be achieved if one takes extra classes at private tuitions and convince their parents to pay for it. Whereas, parents allow theirchildren to take private tuitions blindly believing that this to be the only way for their child to achieve good results.
Though tuitions, with efficient teachers and motivated students, have proven to be value for money ,the question arises why can the same effort by both students and teachers not be devoted in schools during their regular classes? Why aren’t parents holding their children accountable for the right kind of effort at home and in the school? How come a student who is unable to follow in a class of 20 at school, easily understands every concept in a class of 60 or more? Where has accountability gone? After all, the triangle of holistic education is completed with the student, teacher or parent each at one of its three corners. Should any one person be held responsible or is it the lack of commitment in students, teachers and parents towards their responsibility.
It has also been observed that students occupy themselves with a lot of extra-curricular activities and try to catch up on their studies by taking tuitions. Parents need to question themselves, their children and their teachers on the effectiveness of sending their child to school rather than giving in to the unfair demands of private tutoring. In order to achieve this, parents need to be proactive in ensuring and assisting their children get accustomed to self-study.
Schools need to ensure that the teachers that are hired do not give private tuitions to the students of the same school. Dawood Public School is one of the few schools, ensuring that their teachers are not giving private tuitions to the students of their own school. Schools also need to inculcate a balance between extra-curricular and academic activities ensuring that their students get best of both the worlds.
There is a dire need to explore further the ways private tutoring can be discouraged. Schools follow a decorum of discipline and offer a secure learning environment, unlike the tuition centers. This can lead to peer pressure lead unhealthy activities. Indulging in private tutoring is giving rise to a culture of demand and no accountability in children across society. We need to join hands together to work towards eliminating this culture from our society.
Schools provide the infrastructure, ambience and hence the environment needed to cultivate and groom holistic personalities, which is oblivious in any tuition centre. Besides ensuring academic success, schools provide opportunities for students to exercise their rights and inculcate skills that boast and empower them to face the ups and downs of life.
Zoya Altaf is pursuing her Masters from IBA and is a communication professional.