Tuition mafia: a necessary evil – 02 Jan 2023

The cottage industry of private tuition centres and educational academies been mushrooming for years

The cottage industry of private tuition centres and educational academies in the country has been mushrooming for years and years. Is it the shirking of professional duties or systemic lacunae that is responsible for this para-educational system making inroads into the formal education system of schools and colleges?

Speaking of the systemic lacunae, at formal institutions teachers dart towards the early completion of syllabi at a breakneck speed. Teachers remain distracted by centrifugal extraneous activities. Teachers’ extracurricular activities turned into duties include exam invigilation, answer-sheet marking, election training and duty, filling pandemics related proforma, and the stuff. It creates non-serious ambience at the formal institutions.

At formal educational institutions, students feel stuck in the groove. There they abhor the strict discipline and lack of liberty to walk and talk, which are readily available at private academies. The restrictions of uniform and hairdo make their staying there quite bland. The term ‘schooling’ says it all. Truckloads of boring homework put students into a bonded labour. They get stultified by the deadening routine of periods and classes. But at private academies, students prepare their studies in an informal way. Here they are not stalked by dos and don’ts. They become quite friendly with the teachers. In such a milieu they feel free to ask questions. They also discuss their deficiencies in studies with sanguine hopes that they will be made up.

Ironically, though not surprisingly, parents show concern and remain in constant touch with the teachers at academies but they don’t ever bother to respond to parents-teachers meet by school or college administration (especially the public ones). Moreover, formal institutions sometimes are out of reach for some students whereas academies are present at every nook and cranny making their existence and importance undeniable.

In the matter of public institutions, parents cooperation is nothing but zilch. They even do not blame these institutions for bad performance of their children but they register their protest at academies for being remiss. Its cogent reason is that education is free at public institutions but academies charge hefty fees. Parents feel the financial pinch and punch by academies when their children produce zero outcome.

Unfortunately though, private academies treat students as some profitable commodities. The data in a study ‘Who Loses, Who Chooses’ — conducted under the aegis of Unesco’s Global Education Monitoring Report and Idara-i-Taleem-o-Agahi — shows 45% of students are getting education in private institutions and 25% in public ones. The study points out another puzzling paradox that the students of private institutions resort to tutoring more than those of government institutions. So far as the public institutions are concerned, the 25% can be exonerated as less than 2.5% of the annual GDP has been allocated to education throughout the 2010s by our governments. Lack of infrastructure and teachers’ engagement in out-of- school duties are the demotivating factors. But 45% of students of private institutions speak volumes of the mercenary motives of these institutions. Hence the monetisation of education has also made tutoring indispensable.

Academies capitalise on the failing system of public institutions and the poor financial condition of people. Nevertheless, they have caused more harm than benefit by weakening the formal education system. In our part of the globe, they have snowballed into a necessary evil. There is no denying that success of an educational institution or a teacher can be gauged by the number of students joining extraneous coaching classes. After all why would students hanker after academies when they are fortified educationally by their institutions and teachers? A devoted professional teacher and a genuine institution never leave their students on the mercy of tuition mafia.

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