Tuitions: A necessary evil?

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.

Age they start going
Children in Bangalore seem to normally start tuition classes somewhere around the 7th or 8th standard. Many parents, teachers and students however think that tuitions are really not a necessity till the 10th std 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, tuitions can be avoided, says Aashima Kalra, a high school Chemistry teacher at Bethany High.
Almost everybody is of the opinion that Science students need the extra coaching classes, in the core subjects, to gain that competitive edge needed for entrance exams.

Popular subjects
Math, Science and Hindi are by far the most sought after subjects at tuition classes. Minakshi Garg, who teaches primary school at Head Start in Koramangala and who takes tuition classes for Hindi and Math, says that for Hindi 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.
Minakshi goes on to add that in Bangalore many children seem to find enough help at home for Science and Mathematics in their primary school.
Neethi Agarwal, a mother to two boys in primary school, says that though their mother tongue is Hindi, her boys do not identify with the 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 for her second son.

Do tuitions help?

There are certain scenarios when extra classes are said to be warranted. For example:
* If the number of children per class is high. In such a case, students are likely to need extra coaching to finish up everything the school is not likely to teach. An ideal number of students in a classroom is around 30, says Rita Dewang, an ex-teacher who has taught high school for many years in Bangalore, Delhi and 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 want 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 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 Aashima.
Janani Hari, who recently completed her 10th CBSE 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.

But her tuition teacher would make them do the important formulae and theorems over and over again, which made her Math exam a breeze. 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. She scored 99 in Math this time.

Cost factor
The cost depends on multiple factors, the most important being how good or effective a certain teacher is. On an average, it is seen that teachers charge about Rs 1000 per subject per month, and teach about 2-3 hrs a week.  
There are also teachers who charge only about Rs 300 a month and others who charge as much on an hourly basis for subjects such as Math and Physics for the 11th, 12th standard students.

These are teachers who likely to be teaching students scoring over 85% and looking to cross the 90-95% line.

Coaching centres that conduct concentrated training for entrance tests during the 11th and 12th standard charge about Rs 35,000 per year for the core subjects.

Stress levels
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. On the other hand there are students who claim to have finished their work in their tuition class just to skip studying at home.
There are tuition teachers who punish students who do not complete tuition assignments, and even resort to beating them.
Yes, this includes high school students, says Aashima. In good schools, teachers never raise their hands on the students she says. So students, fearing punishment tend to give more importance to the assignments given in their tuition class.
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 attends tuitions. They believe that the child listens to a teacher better and that parents tend to lose patience when they don the role of a teacher.

For a special few
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 happens when the student goes to tuitions to the same teacher.
It is a long way before we come up with an ideal education system where we are able to eliminate such negative pay-offs from the system.

Poll: What do students think?

* Waste of money. Self study is enough        22%
* Nothing wrong with it! It really helps!         78%
* It really helps,as school teachers are not doing
    as well as tuition teachers             32%
* Unnecessary - it’s all a scheme!        12%
* Most their friends do so and they don’t want
    to be left behind                 65%
* Other Reasons                  8%
'Majority of middle-class parents spend nearly 1/3 of their monthly incomes on tuition. Nearly 85% of the students felt that if one does not take tuitions then it he or she is not ambitious enough.’

Source of quote and survey: ASSOCHAM

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