Tuition-dependency education

K. Nishena Nekha

“Parents have a habit of looking for a tutor from the first day of the new academic session even before the classes start” says a teacher of the school where my children study. That is true. A government Primary school teacher argues, “Parents of private schools are only too willing to spend money for extra tuition, but apathetic towards providing tuition if children study in government schools” Yes, true.

I landed in a function some years ago where students debated for and against the prevalent culture of private tuition in Nagaland. No winner or loser, at least for me. Many tutors were present among the audience. At least some might have thought their wallets were up for snatch. Those high school guys really debated seriously. One of the debaters speaking against the motion stressed, “It is just a fashion that can be done away with”. While the other one was so eloquent and emphasized that every student is not fortunate enough to afford private tuition; and this competitive trend inflicts mental agony and frustration on him or her, and so this should stop. How true. But there was no let up from the treasury bench. Someone almost prevailed when he said “to lose or to excel is personal choice; those aiming for higher performance can go for extra tuition if they so desire, and no one can stop them”. How about that?

Should Nagaland Legislative Assembly call for a special session for passing a bill banning private tuition, and call it say, Nagaland Private Tuition Act (NPTA), 2005? Mr. Imkong L. Imchen, the hon ‘ble Minister for School Education may not introduce such bill to make himself an object of ridicule. It does not mean tuition culture is a minor concern, though.

Many parents try to make their children study. And when they tend to be inattentive, they are threatened with extra tuition - “I’ll send you to tuition” There the child feels tuition is a punishment. Somehow mother-child classes go on until the stage where mother finds the lessons above her capacity to handle. But to most mothers the amount of hard-earned money spent on private tuition is more than compensated by the obedience with which the child goes to the tutor (to study or not). So that she gets time to watch Kasauti or chat about second hand business, Forever Living~ Aviance, Floriculture, etc.

Back to serious discussion. Is private tuition really a must’! Indispensable or compelled’! Is it a fad or a necessity? I entertain such thoughts as this - “these youngsters just get on the bandwagon, because to them it looks fashionable to be noticed as tuition-goers”; Mass culture of private tuition has to do with poor study habits. Do they try intensive home study before rushing for tuition?

This is about time we need to examine the pedagogy (way of teaching) in our schools. Does the teacher give enough chance to students for clarification? Do the students ask freely for repetition in the class when confused or unclear with the explanation? That is absolutely a must.

Nagas are poor in Mathematics. They are stupid and dullards. Who said so? Give them the best teaching. Insist to simplify and clarify doubts until the concept is driven home,

Teachers, give your best and see the result. A true teacher cannot tolerate his students’ poor performance in his subject. While teaching in the class, if a teacher expects confused pupils to throng his house, he is against humanity and breaching professional ethics in the most severe manner. Can there be anyone like that? I think not. But who knows.

At any rate private tuition should be there only for the absolute needy. Don’t take it as a fashion. Avoidable should be avoided. By the present trend it makes us think all our outstanding achievers are tuition-enabled goodies, and without which means failure?

Not at all. That should not be.

A bit on economy. Those who live on monthly salary (honestly) hardly pull on. Most of the salaried households survive on deficit thanks to inflations and not the least to predaceous tax suckers. Are they reading? I wish they did. Parents of all the social and economic status invest their best in education of children no matter how dearly it cost them. The world does not know whether you have fair money or ‘public money’( I am sorry). When even the salaried families suffer, imagine the plight of unemployed families. School fees of their wards accumulate for many months, even years in some cases. And yet there is private tuition going on. And worst still, there is no fixed rate for tuition. Yes, NSF or somebody fixed the rate sometime back to be flouted.

So the dilemma. Whether to get 33 in Mathematics, or save money for vegetables. Ultitimately we cannot escape these two basic questions:

1. Who benefits from tuition?

2. What necessitates tuition?

I am a bit unkind in being unable to cut it short. But here I mean business. These two basic questions are significant problems that call for experimental research.

To the first question, it could be the teacher and the client both. Of course, for some it is very good business. An added question; “does every tuition-goer do well and rule out failure? Not necessarily. Many tuition homes are no different from actual classroom in terms of the crowd and inability of personal attention. This particular problem of the latter negates the very concept of tuition.

To the second question two groups - high achievers and pass mark hunters, seek for definitely extra tuition. Best students who aspire for top positions take extra brush up to get an edge over the fellow contestants. So, tuition is purely on their volition. As for the second category of students, their last effort is to get through the examination by any means. But what does it help? Holder of a progress report fun of 33s and 35s knocks on the maximum doors of institutions for admission. Some less fortunate ones end up in pearly gates. After graduation he becomes the darling or an old friend of the NPSC until overage whisk him away to politics or business, as they name it.