Can private tuition and coaching classes provide quality education? Do school-going children need private tuition to excel in studies? A young girl student, Delphi Oinam, who recently topped the Higher School Leaving Certificate examination conducted by the Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE) revealed to the Imphal Free Press that she did not take any tuition. She expressed her conviction that private tuition is not required to be a topper in examinations.
“I did not take any private tuition," said Delphi during a telephonic interview with this IFP reporter on May 31, 2022. "The lecture given by my school teachers and the guidance from my parents is sufficient for me”.
However, private tuition and coaching classes have been growing as an educational trend in Manipur as elsewhere for decades now. During the pandemic, several students took to online classes or online private tuitions to cope and make up for the educational loss they faced. But even after the pandemic subsided and schools reopened for normal physical classes, most of the parents continue to provide their children with private tuitions or coaching classes in pursuit of quality education, apart from sending them to schools for formal education.
While some view as a "forced education" and others may disagree, private tuition culture is growing in today’s competitive world of learning.
A look at the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2021 report shows that the proportion of children taking private tuition in Manipur is 49.1 per cent. The figure is alarmingly above the average proportion (40 per cent) of school-going children taking private tuition classes in the country.
With the increasing dependency on private tuition and coaching classes for quality education and good grades despite receiving formal education, private tuition and coaching classes have become prerequisite and more of a culture among students in the state. Private tuition has also become a trend among middle-class families.
Most of the parents of school-going students expressed the view that good grades are not possible to achieve with formal classes alone. They feel children need extra tuition besides the learning process in school to get good marks, which is seen by most as a parameter of assessing students.
In this competitive world, no parents want their children to be left behind in this competitive world. Rich or poor, parents are using all their potentials and resources to send their children to such private tuition and coaching classes.
No private tuition, no quality education?
The present scenario of Manipur is - “Where there is no private tuition or coaching, there is no quality education,” says Chinglen Maisnam, associate professor of Manipur University (Economic department) said while speaking exclusively to the Imphal Free Press.
“The popularisation of private tuition and coaching classes is the reflection of an aggressive privatisation in full swing where knowledge is considered as commodities instead of charity,” Chinglen Maisnam, said.
Education - Exam-oriented
Also, education in Manipur has become more exam-oriented. “The quality here is the mark acquired in examinations,” the professor said.
It has been alleged by many parents that the teachers are holding back their lecturing skill in schools so they are compelled to send their children to private tuition or coaching centres, as the teachers in such centres are exposing their best talent.
In regard to it, Maisnam said, “As teachers in private schools are paid less, taking up private classes have become an option for extra income to run their family… so, the teachers convince students in a way to take private tuition and coaching classes,” he added.
Cost of Private Tuition
According to data collected by the Imphal Free Press, it has been learned that Rs 10,000 to 15,000 are charged for a course of one subject in private tuition and coaching centres for XI and XII standards.
Masinam pointed out that the quantum of dropout students (mostly girls) and debt rate among parents will continue to increase in the economically backward states like Manipur as tuition culture has become essential.
As the state has gender inequality which starts from the household, preference for private tuition and coaching will be given to boys in underprivileged families, he explained further.
“Private tuition and coaching have become an essential pandemic in Manipur,” he said.
In view of it, Maisnam stressed the urgent need of framing a legislation and regulation of coaching and tuition centres to provide quality education to students in a systematic and accountable manner.
Sumati Sougrakpam, general secretary, the All Manipur Student’s Guardian Association, while sharing her views on the tuition culture in Manipur to this Imphal Free Press reporter, said, such a trend is not a good sign in the society.
Sumati Sougrakpam pointed out that the main factor behind the trend of taking private tuition or coaching classes besides formal school education is the fear among the parents who falsely believe that getting good grades and marks is impossible without private tuition and coaching classes.
Some teachers also indirectly force the parents to provide students to take up private tutorials, breaking the moral ethics of a teacher, she said. It can also be witnessed that education has been commercialised by going for private coaching and tuition centres, she further said.
Private Tuition - Forced Education?
Sumati said sending a child for private tuition and coaching classes besides providing normal school classes is an act of “forced education”. The child may get good grades but his or her potential will be suppressed, she said to the Imphal Free Press.
She also pointed out that parents or guardians of the child also waste extra money in this case, as private tuitions are highly expensive.
Stating that in olden days, most of the teachers were ideal and not one of the students were used to private tuition but they got good grades. However, in today’s times, many are now aiming for top-grade officers. She expressed the need to revive the age-old trends of education, the quality learning and teaching process between hard working students and dedicated teachers.
One Romabati Devi, a widow street vendor, whose daughter has given her XI standard examination, said that financing her daughter’s education is very difficult for her as she has to pay for her coaching class and transportation fare apart from the school fees.”
The mother of the child expressed her fears that without private tuition, her daughter will be left behind.
“Skipping coaching classes will reduce the expenses. However, I don’t want my girl to be left behind in studies and grades from her mates,” Romabati shared with the Imphal Free Press.
Amid the concerns and efforts of parents to provide quality education to their children in this fast-paced world, “introduction of free coaching classes for the underprivileged students by the government will be a great initiative and will ease the sufferings of the poor people,” she added.