Students double up as 'Online Teachers' in Kerala

Students double up as 'Online Teachers' in Kerala

Akshay Kumar PG, aged 13 years is a sixth standard student of Green Valley Public school at Kothamangalam in Ernakulam district while Amal Mariyadas, another sixth grader is a student at Bishop Moore Vidyapeeth in Alapuzha district.

Giving them company as e-tutor is 16-year-old Karthik PG, 9th standard student of Vimalgiri public school at Kothamangalam and they are tutoring students more than double their age at an Akshaya e-learning centre at nearby Thoppumpady. They take spoken English classes for their students in Bangalore and Egypt.

Among their students are a 40-year-old transport business owner, Babu from Bangalore, who wants to pursue a law degree, and his wife.

The children take English conversation classes from their home at 6 am before setting off for school and then between 9.30 pm to 10.30 pm after their studies.

Sebastian says children pick up faster and it was easier to teach them how to take classes and they were ready in three days, he says, adding, the children have also taken classes with power point presentation for 27 teachers of the centre.

NRI housewives from Kerala in Dubai, who want to polish their English language skills, have also evinced interest in the classes, Sebastian said. There were also enquries from China for spoken English classes. Dubai Parents Association have also approached him for tutors in various CBSE subjects, he said.

Online tutoring has picked up a big way in Kerala with many companies providing online coaching in various subjects for students abroad. According to Beena George, Centre Director of Kochi based Growing Stars Infotech, subsidiary of California based Growing Stars Inc, they have catered to the needs of about 2500-3000 students in US since the company was formed in 2003.

Online coaching is provided on subjects like Maths, Pysics, Chemistry, Biology and English. Now they are handling about 900 customers with about 120 staff based in various locations in Kerala.

The company was formed after its CEO Biju Abraham Mathew, a software engineer, teamed up with Chairman Saji Philip after he was unable to afford tutors for his children.
Discover Plus, another online tutoring centre, provides help to students abroad to do their homework and help in subjects like Maths and Science and even Arabic studies.
Beena says they use "the services of only qualified postgraduates as tutors and have full time and part timers." They charge USD 15 for an hour of tutoring and function in two shifts starting from 2 am to 10.30 am and an evening shift from 4.30 pm.

Sebastian came back to India from Dubai in 2001 and started the e-learning centre investing Rs three lakh. But it did not take off on expected lines and failed miserably.
This prompted him to train teachers who would then coach the students in various subjects. Many educated mothers came to him for the training. But their English was poor, Sebastian said, adding he started helping them cope with the language with the help of their own children.

Already 97 teachers, 90 per cent of them women, have been trained for online courses, he said. The prospective teachers are given three month training for a fee of Rs 11,000.

Sebastian said six months ago his centre started taking classes for students abroad. First the teachers take demonstration classes and if the students are happy, then the classes and timings are agreed upon. The teachers are paid on an average Rs 10,000 upwards a month for two hour daily classes from Monday-Friday. The class timings are fixed according to the convenience of the students and teachers.

In the US, on an average, a student wishing to take online tuitions would have to pay USD 100-150 for an hour while the charges were lesser in India and would work to around USD 50, he said.

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