Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Great Indian Tuition Raj

I was interacting with a bunch of kids in the local playground a few days back. During idle banter, I quizzed them about what they did when they came back from school.

"Tuitions Aunty" they all said. And they all were studying in top-rated schools in the locality, and I know the schools charged hefty school fees annually!
"Why do you go for tuitions?" I asked
"Because our parents send us" said one. "Because the teacher's in school don't teach us well. So we need to get extra assistance" said another. "I think because my parents have more money than time" send the third
"First you pay school fees, then tuition fees and also spend extra time / effort / fuel to ferry them to-and-from tuition classes. Today's education....!!!" I thought to myself.

Looking back at my own life, during all my schooling years - I've never really attended a single tuition class. Teaching was done by the teachers in school. This was followed by some self-study at home under the guidance of family (mom / dad / sibling / auntv / uncle / neighbor). That was good enough for a vast majority of students, and most of us fared reasonably well in school and life. If any kid needed extra-help / coaching in a specific subject, then he / she enrolled into a tuition class for few weeks. Many teachers in the schools offered to conduct after-school coaching in school premises itself - to assist kids in learning.

Fast forward to today | I don't know of any child in my personal network who does not attend tuition. No matter where they reside in India, school AND tuition are integral to the everyday life.  I've heard of parents and children attending tuition for preparation to the 'nursery school admissions'. I've heard of a 4 year old attending Spanish tuition for build language skills! And I've seen a 10th grader attending 6 hours of tuition classes and 6 hours of school in a day! That in an era where 'knowledge is free' and Dr. Google can teach you almost anything you want to learn as a school-kid!

On the other side, I've seen tuition teachers earning more (tax-free) income from the cushy comforts of their home than the teachers who teach in school. I've heard of tuition teachers taking classes from 5 AM to 11 PM in the night. I've heard of families buying an extra car and hiring a driver just to ferry their kids from and to tuition.

Here's the thing | TUITION is BIG BUSINESS in INDIA!

As I observe and think through this (multi-)crore industry, I'm having more questions than answers:

First, as parents you are paying twice for your child to learn. Now, does every really child need to taught  twice? I thought with each progressive generation, kids are getting smarter / brighter / faster learners. So why should they be taught twice?

Second with the nuclear family set-up, many times kids get difficult to control within the confines of the 4-walls. So parents find sending kids to tuition as a way to bring some order and control in the kid's life

Third, working mothers don't really have the time or energy at the end of the day to get children to sit and study. With more disposable income at hand and increasing competition, coupled with a desire to provide access to the best learning resources, many parents hire a (home) tutor to aid in today's competitive education landscape.

Do you have any answers? Or more questions?? Leave a comment to let me know

A version of this post first appeared on Huffingtonpost

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