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Perspectives: The system of out of school coaching classes and how helpful are they?

A recently published data analysis by the education ministry and the NSO indicated that Indian parents spent nearly 25k crores on their children’s tuition classes on a yearly basis. And this doesn’t include entrance exam coachings but simply private tuitions from pre-primary to higher secondary to bring children on the same par with the pace of studies inside school classrooms. Now the question that arises is why do children need ‘tuitioning’ outside when they are already tutored in schools?

Who needs tuition?

Many years back while I was in school, my little niece who lived in the United States had come for a summer visit to India and were invited for lunch to our house. In having to attend my weekly math tuitions every Sunday I got a little late in coming home. My niece was curious to know where I had gone and upon being answered quite automatically assumed perhaps I was weak in academia and therefore ‘needed tuitioning’. She expressed her doubt before the whole family creating a pretty embarrassing situation. Little did the girl know, unlike what was natural to her place of belonging ( back in the States), in our country coaching centres outside schools remained the top priority for even the brightest minds in class. Or perhaps their parents obsessed with getting their kids to be the best among the best.

In about two decades, out of school coaching centres have become like a compulsion for each and every student enrolled in a school. And this phenomena surpasses even socio-economic class distinctions. It isn’t only the rich who send their children for private tuitions but a lot of the poor too who do. Tuitions seem to be mandatory whether or not they add to the average yield of marks for the child without external support out of class.

Do Tuitions really help?

For one thing, tuition classes are extremely time-consuming and a great hindrance to self-study. At least at the school level, children need to read more by themselves and start developing a reading habit pertaining to any and every topic or subject they like. A natural inclination towards research is born through the child guiding herself through the several channels of her curiosity and finding material that significantly satiates her. By fixing children into routinely school curriculum and further brandishing of the same thing they study in class renders them intellectually stagnant.

What are children actually learning?

It is very rare that tuition teachers help students gain insight or different perspectives into known matters like history or the sciences. Neither are kids helped in seeing matters with a very personal eye, reading into it emotionally. Be it the sciences or the arts, school education must aim at moulding children into empathetic and sociable adults. Instead, children spend after-school hours taking down notes of the same thing taught in class and spending time in learning them by heart to be tested later.

What about classrooms then?

Tuitions also raise questions about the standards of teaching inside classrooms. If a child learns well inside school, why should she need external guidance unless academia is really a weak point for her? Are we not making our kids increasingly dependent through this? Making them unable to take decisions and relying on seniority for making choices that impact none but them? It is high time we re-evaluate this ongoing system of out of school coaching in the country.

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