NationalVOLUME 19 ISSUE # 5

Rising tide of tuition culture

In our country, the concept of education is inseparable from private tuition, asserts Laila Rubab, mother of grade 9 and grade 7 students. Allegations abound that teachers in both private and public sector schools merely go through the motions in classrooms—taking attendance, checking notebooks, and assigning homework written on the blackboard, claims Mrs. Rubab.

Students copy down the homework, presenting it to their parents, who then bear the responsibility of ensuring completion. However, more than 90 percent of parents find themselves unable to assist due to either lack of literacy or insufficient time. Consequently, a reliance on private academies or home tutors becomes the norm.

Mrs. Rubab’s observation aligns with the prevailing trend in Pakistan, where the culture of tuition is on the upswing. It has become almost a necessity for all students, with teachers often offering tuition after regular school hours. A survey conducted by weekly Cutting Edge reveals that not only higher-grade students but also those in primary classes are seeking tuition. The associated fees range from Rs1,000 to Rs10,000 per subject, making it a widespread practice across diverse student demographics.

According to Bilqees I. Patel, a former teacher, this situation starkly contrasts with the past when seeking tuition was considered a sign of academic weakness. Today, tuition is deemed essential for every student, and various factors contribute to this paradigm shift.

The primary driver behind the growing demand for tuition is the large student population in classrooms, leading to varied capacities and needs. With a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:50 and short class periods, individual attention, especially for average or slow learners, becomes challenging. Consequently, students turn to tuition to meet examination requirements.

The lower societal status and financial benefits associated with the teaching profession also contribute to the surge in tuition demand. Teachers, supplementing their income with private tuition centers, may prioritize these centers over classroom instruction. In such centers, they deliver the same content as in the classroom but with increased care and attention.

The existing examination system in Pakistan is another significant factor fueling the tuition culture. Emphasis on rote learning, where students memorize information rather than develop understanding, leads to a dependency on tuition to navigate examinations successfully.

Tuition centers further promote shortcuts, encouraging mechanical memorization rather than creative thinking. Instead of delving into subjects in-depth, students are often provided with old examination papers to solve within a designated timeframe, shaping their minds to function mechanically.

Additionally, the education level of parents and the time they can dedicate to their children contribute to the demand for tuition. Research indicates a positive correlation between parents’ education level and students’ academic achievement.

Even in today’s context, a significant number of parents, particularly mothers who are often deemed responsible for their child’s education, remain illiterate. This exacerbates the necessity for arranging tuition to provide children with an opportunity to enhance their educational abilities. The prevalent concept of both parents working has led to them spending significant portions of the day outside the house, making it challenging to give adequate attention to their children. This lack of time for parental involvement has contributed to the popularity of tuitions as a solution.

These factors have left a profound impact on the social and educational fabric of our society, affecting the quality of classroom teaching. Teachers are aware that a large percentage of their students seek tuition, leading them to fulfill their classroom responsibilities half-heartedly, with tuition expected to bridge the gaps.

Simultaneously, students may pay less attention in class, assuming that their tutors will address any gaps later. This shift has considerably diminished the level of respect for school teachers in the eyes of students.

Furthermore, students’ intrinsic learning capacity has been compromised, as they have become overly reliant on tuitions and tutors to comprehend concepts instead of exploring subjects independently. This impedes their natural curiosity, analytical thinking, and reflective abilities, as readily available materials from tuition centers replace the need for genuine investigative efforts.

Dr. Sania Chaudhry, a public sector management analyst, highlights the demanding schedule of school children in Pakistan, attending official school sessions in the morning and participating in tuitions after school hours. This rigorous routine places a mental burden on students, limiting their opportunities for leisure activities such as sports and hobbies, thus jeopardizing their social development.

The parent-child relationship is also affected, as tuitions reduce the opportunity for parents to actively engage with their children’s studies, understand their habits, studying style, areas of improvement, and strengths.

Contrary to the past, where bright students took pride in their results achieved through personal hard work, the last two decades have witnessed a shift. Taking tuitions has become both a trend and a perceived necessity to secure better grades in exams. This raises questions about whether parents have replaced their efforts with tuition bills or if teachers have commercialized the noble profession of teaching.

In conclusion, the negative aspects of tuition outweigh the positive ones. This situation places a crucial responsibility on both school authorities and parents. Schools must ensure that teachers fulfill their responsibilities to students, implementing effective monitoring mechanisms to uphold teaching quality. Simultaneously, parents should strive to pay more attention to their children, recognizing that they are the first and most important teachers in their children’s lives.