Tuitions: The Extra Class, Or The Substitute?

  • Abhishek Behl
  • India
  • Nov 25, 2011

Gurgaon 1: Neha Shukla is an Upper KG student in one of the leading schools in Palam Vihar. Her father paid an exorbitant amount for her admission— in a school that boasts of world class teachers and facilities— to ensure a great future for her.

Gurgaon 2: Nandini Sharma and her sister are studying in a local Hindi medium school in Gurgaon, and they are now aspiring to enter a top public school in the City. Their father passed the pre-admission interview on Monday, and they will take an entrance test at the end of the month. Mr Sharma wants his daughters to study in an English medium school.

Though seemingly different, the parents of these girls— and of many more kids in Gurgaon— have one thing in common. They are desperately searching for home—tutors,  to improve the prospects of their wards. While Neha’s mother wants the tutor to help in her home-work, the Sharmas want their kids to be able to crack the entrance exams.

In both cases, the parents seem to have little faith in the schooling system— even of a world class public school. Tuition classes after school have become the norm. The situation has come to such a pass that students now consider the school to be a fun place used for social networking and cultural activities— and the tuition is the temple of learning.

Friday Gurgaon talked to a number of school teachers, home tutors and heads of prominent institutes, to understand why the tuition culture has become all pervasive— particularly in the last decade. “Fifteen to twenty years ago, tuitions were meant for weak children. Later, the bright students, who wanted to clear entrance exams went for tuitions. But now every one goes for tuition/ coaching”, says Sanjay Jain, a home tutor for the last 14 years— along with his wife Shelly Jain.

Jain teaches accounts and mathematics to students of class 10, 11 and 12. He is critical of the schools, and says that recruitment of teachers is done on
basis of only degrees, the  communication skills and the passion for the profession is not
given weightage (or even checked). “Not every good student can become a good teacher,” he asserts.

His wife also echoes this view, and says that schools are more concerned about completing the syllabus— rather than teaching real concepts and ideas. “During tuition, we start with some basics, even if they are from class 12,” she asserts.

The couple is also critical of the much acclaimed Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) System that is being implemented in schools. “Under this system children are not failed— even if they have not learnt the basics of Maths, English, Physics and Chemistry”, they add.

Another problem being faced by teachers, both at schools and during tuitions, is the increasing disconnect between the students and their parents. The general observation is that parents consider paying the high tuition fees, and ensuring admission into top schools, as their only job. “Most of parents these days do not have time for their kids, as they are either both working, or involved in socialising in this Millennium City”, says a teacher, who works in one of the leading educational societies in the country.

As a result of this, he says, the generation gap is increasing year on year; and students look more towards their friends for relationships, rather than parents. It seems unthinkable,  particularly in India, where family bonding has always been great, says the teacher.

Social networking tools, internet and mobile phones are also coming in the way of learning. The attention span is reducing, the social etiquette is more westernised, and students are becoming more individualistic, warn the Jain couple.

Dinesh Pratap Singh, a leading Chemistry teacher of the city, whose wards have made it to the IITs and AIIMS, says that private tutors fill the gap left by schools and coaching institutes. The  tutors understand the language of the students. Their reputation has been built on their achievements; and the students come by good word of mouth.

“Academically, the students in Gurgaon are very good but the time spent in schools is not utilized well. Students spend 6 to 7 hours in a school, but the teachers can not help all of them”, he says. Also, the emphasis on NCERT syllabus does not help. At private tuitions, the lectures can be repeated, and customised solutions can be found, he says. 

In the pursuit of higher marks, and entry into top professional colleges, students are also using many innovative tricks. Many of them take dummy admissions, and then stay at home and preparing for the entrance exams— much to the consternation of the teachers.

“Schooling is a very interesting phase in the life of a student, and they should not give it a miss at any cost. If they do so, their personality development would be impacted. They may do well in maths and physics, but may lack communication skills, leadership qualities and moral values”, says Manju Saini, a senior teacher at DAV School in Sector 14, Gurgaon.

Saini is unequivocal in her opposition to the coaching culture, and asserts that it has become a fashion. “Most of the schools in Gurgaon have excellent teachers; and the students need to focus in their classrooms, rather than thinking that they can learn the lessons at tuition, while having fun at schools”, she says. 

If students utilise their 5 to 6 hours at school well, there is no need for tuitions— at least till Class V, says Saini. She scoffs at the notion of tuitions for KG/ UKG students. Parents must take ownership and start connecting with their children, she adds.

The CCE system, she says, is a wonderful development, in the sense that it checks both the subjective and analytical knowledge of the students. “Most of the coaching institutes teach tricks and shortcuts to solve problems— that inhibits the creativity of the students”, she alleges.

SN Nayar, Director, Children’s Paradise Preparatory School, has been teaching the tiny-tots for the last 11 years. He says the parents must devote time to their wards, and help them discover the latent talent. “Pyar, mohabbat aur khulus jo parents de sakte hein, who tutor nahin de sakta. Hamein apne bacchon ke lie waqt nikalna hoga”, says the veteran teacher, who has worked his entire life in the education field.

Nancy Sharma, Principle SD Adarsh Vidayalya, on Sohna Road, says that the new CCE system does away with the need for tuitions— as these lead to stress and over - burdening. “The CCE system helps the students to learn by doing and playing”, she says. In her own school, the weak students are given extra-classes during holidays, and on weekends.

Charulata, a teacher at Gurgaon’s Our Lady of Fatima Convent School, however, has a different take. She says that parents do not have time for their wards; and it is due to this  that tuitions are required. “No teacher or parent forces the children. They go for extra-coaching because it is needed”, she says.

Another teacher says that private tutors can be really helpful, as all their focus is on the single student. They can build a mentoring relationship, and a student can share his or her experiences. “A private tutor can also help beat the stress, as a student can share personal things”, she adds.

The CCE system, that has become the focus of discussion in schools, has been developed by NCERT to assess the students throughout the year. It has two types of assessments, one is called the Summative, and involves the pen and paper type testing; whereas the other, called Formative, is done on a daily basis, and it includes projects, daily activities and quiz competitions.

School teachers think that the CCE system helps in the creative and critical development of children. The private tutors hold a contrary view, saying that this system robs the students of any chance to learn— as there is no pressure to pass the exams.

Sanjay Jain says that this system makes the task of teachers too easy, as no one needs to be failed, and every one passes. Vikas Sethi, a prominent Maths teacher in New Colony, however disagrees, and says that it helps schools  play an important role in the development of the children.

“Students from Gurgaon schools have well-rounded personalities, and, are fairly adept”, says Sethi, who has been in this profession for the last 10 years. He says that the tutors work only on the academic side, and mainly help with concepts. The schools, he says, have a bigger responsibility to build character and personality; and they are doing this in a proper manner. “We should give them due credit,” he says.

Most of the teachers, however, want a more active role for  the family. They assert that students whose parents are more concerned and involved, usually prosper. The roles of the school, the tutor, and the parents, need to be more effectively balanced.


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  • Most of the teachers however want a more active role for the family They assert that students whose parents are more concerned and involved usually prosper The roles of the school the tutor and the parents need to be more effectively balanced

  • abc Nov 28, 2011

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