Run with caution

Even though the vision of transforming India into an “equitable and vibrant knowledge society by providing high quality education to all, and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower”, as envisioned by the NEP 2020, is yet to be realized, the tuition industry—“shadow education” and the “new normal”—poses a problem, if not a loss, to the entire system. First, the thriving private tuition sector only proves that learning and economic status have a positive correlation – a challenge to state policy aimed at mitigating socio-economic inequalities through quality education for all. . Second, tuition fees distract students from collective school-based learning and the development of the whole personality that is essential to making them future responsible citizens. Third, paid learning squeezes parents’ budgets; the burden is doubled for parents of private school students who already pay large sums in annual fees, ironically including “tuition”. Above all, private lessons engender the irresponsibility of teachers in formal schools, to such an extent that even private schools advise parents to hire private lessons for their children.

One can go on counting the evils of tutoring but, at the same time, it will be uncharitable to condemn the industry as an evil, ignoring the good side of the age-old well-developed institution of learning, which complements in makes the efforts of the government to solve the quality problems while providing stable employment to a large number of qualified people in the country. The predicament, however, cannot long remain unaddressed, as we cannot afford laissez-faire in education – a primary social obligation for governments.

Tutoring, as an institution, originated alongside formal educational institutions around the world. Surveys show that the percentage of students attending secondary education in Europe is: 84% in Greece, 70% in Lithuania, 77% in Malta, 63% in Spain, 60% in Hungary, 54.7 % in Portugal. , 52% in Poland, 50% in Luxembourg, 45% in Ireland, 41% in the United Kingdom and 40% in Italy. According to the Global Education Census, among Asian countries, while 90% of primary school children received tuition in South Korea, 85% of high school students received tutoring in Hong Kong; similarly, the figures for Japan and Malaysia were 70% and 83%, respectively. However, the attendance pattern for private lessons in Europe varied depending on various factors such as personal ambitions, choice of subject, credibility of the agency, etc. students aspire to excel in studies. In Asian countries, however, school fees have become an inseparable component of formal education — aptly called “shadow school” since it fills what is lacking in classrooms; it is a basic necessity to learn in order to pass exams, which schools barely fulfill.

A study by Professor K Sujatha, of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), shows that a strong tendency towards private education is observed in states where serious problems of education of quality exist at the secondary level. Kerala, despite success in universal access and participation, has the highest percentage of schooling seekers (55%), followed by an industrially and educationally advanced state like Maharashtra (49.35 %) and Uttar Pradesh (46.67%) while it was only 32.26% in Andhra Pradesh. Effective administrative intervention in PA, through disincentives for teachers in case of poor performance in public examinations, is found to have contributed to improving the quality of education and reducing reliance on tuition fees. Second, most private tutoring and coaching centers in the PA gradually transformed into full-fledged private schools, and stiff competition among them was responsible for maintaining quality. Many other studies, in general, point to the fact that the lack of effective control over public and private schools in terms of provision is responsible for the exponential growth of the tuition market.

There is a boom in the tuition industry today as two significant factors, among others, have fueled the demand for tuition: a growing awareness of the importance of better learning and the rise in people’s family incomes over the past two decades. The size of the global tutoring market stood at USD 92.59 billion in 2020, with giant participants such as BYJU’S, Club Z! Inc., Chegg, ETutor, Tutor Group, John Wiley & Sons Inc., Kaplan, Khan Academy, Pearson Plc, Preply, Revolution Prep, Skooli, Tal Group, etc. The industry thrives not only with competitiveness and product variation, but also by engaging in strategic acquisitions and partnerships. The Indian tuition market is now worth around $20 billion and is expected to grow by leaps and bounds.

The growth of the tuition fee industry in developing countries is just one symptom of a much deeper malaise rooted in the school education system. We cannot blame the private tuition industry without looking at the issues in the right perspective. In a country with around 15,000 schools, more than 33,000 nurseries and a thousand universities, ensuring the quality of learning is an extremely difficult task. Students in public schools and colleges are at a greater disadvantage, as 17% of teaching positions (about 1,06,000) are said to be officially vacant for years. When private schools take advantage of “famous brands”, caring too little about excellence, public schools are plagued with typical problems such as overcrowded classrooms, lack of subject specialists, one teacher teaching many subjects, teacher absenteeism, lack of inspection by the authorities, etc. Another peculiarity of public schools is that teachers are also entrusted with non-pedagogical tasks, including census activities and electoral tasks, often at the cost of precious teaching time.

Tackling the problems of the education system is more important than declaring war on tutoring. China’s high-profile crackdown on the tuition industry is not a success story, let alone a model for other countries. It was just a trial and error exercise whose impact has yet to be tested as a large number of jobs were lost as a side effect. Professor Mark Bray, a leading researcher at the University of Hong Kong, believes (and agreeably) that the tuition industry should be recognized and valued, as it has strong implications for the knowledge economy, the market work, school performance and life. children and families.

Populist measures meant to reduce tuition fees will only encourage clandestine activities. For example, South Korea banned private tuition in 1980 but, when black marketing of tuition flourished even at higher fees, the ban had to be lifted in 2020. Furthermore, it is contrary to the ethics of dealing with the issue with an iron fist since tuition is neither a crime nor anti-social activity. On the contrary, it is an efficient and useful parallel institution for the development of human resources. Each country should develop its own private tuition management model because what works in one country may not work in another. While proper surveys are needed to create an evidence base for effecting policy interventions, identifying ways to engage with market forces has become essential. Governments should regulate the tuition fee sector aiming for the optimal equity-oriented utilization of private academic manpower trained with mutually beneficial collaboration between the two institutions, i.e. education and companies charged with tuition fees. Guidelines may include concessions for economically and socially weaker sections, partnership between schools and education companies, creation of a pool of knowledge, financial aid to aspiring tutors and education companies, etc The NEP may need a revival.

The writer is a former Addl. Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh. Opinions expressed are personal

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