Saturday, 10 December 2011

Tuition - a bane in small and big towns alike

Tuition when undertaken for a fees, and especially  for students whom the tutor also  teaches as a regular teacher in a  class is a vicious circle in India. In the West, any income which is above and beyond the salary is termed as Moon-Lighting, and it is illegal because you don’t pay tax for it! Unfortunately, most tuitions taken up for a fees are part of a contract where the teacher is under an obligation to pass the student in the final exams. When I was teaching in a school in Delhi,  I was surprised to see a commotion one day when the result was out. A couple of parents had turned up angry and agitated. It seems, one  teacher had taught their children tuition and he had taken a hefty fee, and  the students had failed! It was an embarrassing moment for the teacher as the parents were demanding a refund, and the teacher was ashamed on being exposed! Teaching  tuition can be so addictive that teachers who have been promoted to head the school find it very difficult not to give tuition! What is ironical is that while it is shameful for a Principal to teach tuition, it is perfectly normal for a school teacher to do so! An acting Vice Principal I know, continues to take tuition in science subjects like Biology and Chemistry which  he taught as a teacher of class ninth and tenth! Such a situation compromises the integrity of not only the teacher, but also the head of the institution who might be moonlighting! The lure of gaining extra income was so great for some teachers in a small town school that they decided to do away with a Principal who was strict and frowned upon tutors who called students to their residence within the campus with impunity! Today they are a happy lot busy earning extra money from tuition and doing anything but teach in school. The Manager too was happy to turn a blind eye as he was receiving a hefty commission from the tutors.
The adage, “familiarity breeds contempt” sounds quite true in the context where students of the same class are taught in batches or in groups at the teacher’s home. They become quite close to the teacher and his family members and soon they  become friendly with the teacher. It is these students who soon start exposing weaknesses in the teacher, and family secrets. All this poses serious discipline problems in school. Unfortunately, tuition is a vicious circle and parents are equally to blame! For most parents, it is a means of washing their hands off their responsibility of helping their children with their home work, and spending their time responsibly. Blame it on the concept of Out Sourcing! For other parents it is a guarantee that their children will pass. For very few parents, tuition takes on the serious purpose of improving performance!
A teacher who recently joined the school as a teacher told me how parents had already started contacting him for tuitions. In small towns it is worse, and parents have to contact the  school subject teachers because they don’t have a choice!The initiative of introducing C.C.E. or C.C.A. has no doubt lessened the need for tuitions in all C.B.S.E. schools till class nine. A Sanskrit tutor called me from Delhi, and told me how difficult it has become for Professional Tutors to find work, because of the      fact that students are  no longer being detained! He wondered if I could get him some work in Gurgaon!
Tuitions are demanding both for students and teachers. A teacher starts his batch early in the morning, and his batches are scheduled right till 11:00 p.m. No wonder, teachers who are highly in demand as tutors are not able to do their best in school. There was this teacher of Maths in one school in Delhi, who used to be so exhausted that he would nod off into dream world during tuition itself!  Poor students  who can’t afford the teacher's tuition fees are losers unfortunately! When most of the class goes to the teacher’s residence for tuition, they don’t pay much attention in class, knowing well that the teacher will teach them the topic later on. Students too, are often so exhausted that they are not able to concentrate well on the lesson being taught in class. Here, I would like to add a word also about the latest trend of attending coaching classes for entrance exams. There was this brilliant girl studying in class eleven in a school in Delhi who started taking coaching classes. She became so busy with coaching classes that she didn’t have time to complete her class home work. She would go home after school, have a quick lunch, rush off to the coaching center, return home late in the evening, have tea, go for a class tuition return home for dinner, and by then it would be eleven in night, she’d open her home work try to work on it but then would drift off to sleep. The end result was that the girl failed to clear her class eleventh exams. Her parents realized their mistake and eased off their pressure on her. I have seen, during my days of teaching, students of class eleventh and twelfth, in deep sleep in the class!
A lot more reforms are required to curb this disturbing trend of Moon Lighting! Tuitions become an addiction, and once a teacher enters into this vicious circle, it becomes very difficult to come out of it. Taking tuitions of the students taught in class is demeaning. It removes the required distance between the tutor and the student. Familiarity does breed contempt. And of course it is highly taxing for both!

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