Private tuition in India is robbing children of their childhood...
It was a pleasant surprise to learn that how a 13 year old, Sahal Kaushik bagged silver medal in Asian Physics Championship, just through home tutoring! Given the education environment that exists in India, it is almost unbelievable that any urban kid is allowed to live a life which is bereft of private tuitions and the bigger surprise is that he manages to win a global event without any such interventions! Though any form of supplementary education has its own merits but the fallout of private tuitions as supplementary education, in its current form, has not been encouraging. It has not only distorted mainstream education but also has succumbed unnecessary and inhuman pressures on pupils, creating challenges in intellectual growth. Though in terms of economics it works wonderfully well, both for teachers as it is highly rewarding and for those parents for whom either there exists a capability problem or the opportunity cost of tutoring their own children is too high!!
And so with time, private tuitions has become a roaring small scale industry! Worse is the fact that in most cases students have to (willingly and unwillingly) fall back on private tuitions as school teachers deliberately shirk from teaching during school hours. Not just teachers, in fact the bigger criminal for the given state of affairs is the prevailing education system in India. Unlike West, there are certain fundamental problems with the existing education system. Not just with respect to pedagogy but also with respect to unnecessary imposition of examination as the final endorsement of success and failure has completely disoriented the student community. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that private tuition market has seen an increase of 40-45 per cent in last few years. Going by ASSOCHAM studies, most of the middle-class families generally end up spending a staggering 30 per cent of their total income on the private tuition of their children. Since the tuition fees are high, especially in urban India, parents have to part away with a very big pie of their income. Tutors here charge fees ranging between Rs 300 and Rs 800 an hour per students and thus middle-class parents with two school-going children end up spending Rs 8,000 per month on tuitions. The actual nightmare starts when children reach board classes and also senior secondary level. In these years, not only schools asks parents to provide their wards with extra tuition but also the competitive exams’ preparation is most of the time perceived to be incomplete without extra coaching. The all pervasive examination system, particularly at the school level, empowers teachers to such an extent that they get to decide whether to promote the pupil to next level, thus exerting pressure on the parents. Parents know that if they do not pay for private tutoring they may end up paying a very steep price as their children may have to repeat academic year. This system is unique to India. Republic of Korea has prohibited any kind of private tutoring. Likewise the Government of Mauritius and Hong Kong has regulations in place to limit the negativity of the business.
While the upper strata do not find it difficult to afford this extra load and may not complain parting with this sum of money but the middle class has to whimper under the burden. The only way-out to this problem is legal and political measures. What we require is a complete overhaul of academic infrastructure, starting from pedagogy, academic delivery and testing methodologies. Above all, the schools need to be more accountable. One must note that extra tuitions steal the otherwise meaningful hours of a child’s life!!