Exorbitant tutoring: Balancing pros and cons

Education is the key, and to cut the finest of keys, parents are often paying through their nose to have their children given the utmost learning exposure. This has given private tutoring the reins, but are parents really justified in paying exorbitantly for their children’s education?  There was a time parents only ‘pushed’ their children into the hands of private tutors as the last resort. In such cases, it would be to fix certain aspects in their child’s education that was proving a hard nut to absorb. The goal was to get the child to grasp the subject after a thorough private drilling in the hands of a teacher paid to ensure that child has learnt. But that is in the past.

Education is the key, and to cut the finest of keys, parents are often paying through their nose to have their children given the utmost learning exposure. This has given private tutoring the reins, but are parents really justified in paying exorbitantly for their children’s education?

There was a time parents only ‘pushed’ their children into the hands of private tutors as the last resort. In such cases, it would be to fix certain aspects in their child’s education that was proving a hard nut to absorb. The goal was to get the child to grasp the subject after a thorough private drilling in the hands of a teacher paid to ensure that child has learnt. But that is in the past.

Today, private tutors are all over the education setting. They offer their services at a canter and money is their ultimate desire. Agencies are aplenty, employing private tutors. Some students are made to double; attending classes normally seeing private tutors on the sidelines. This goes on as a norm. Others have nothing to do with classes. All they want is to pass their exams. So all they ever know are private tutors, who drill into them the ABC of approaching examinations.

The crux of the issue is that parents want the best results for their children when it comes to education. That’s why they go to a great length to spend large amounts of money in private tutoring to ensure that at the end of their education odyssey, they come out with the best possible results. Of course, there are many advantages private tutoring offers.

“The strength of private tuition lies in the flexibility with which tutors can approach the needs of their students, unhampered by the over-regulation which has messed up school education to the point where private tuition is much more in demand. To provide good education, teachers need to be free to teach extra hours,” says Eric Oketch, Good Foundation School, Remera.

Oketch says some students are lazy; they easily lose motivation to study and engage in unhealthy activities like researching on the Internet and games.

“A private tutor can get the students back on the right track when they stray. For example, private tutors can help parents to reprimand their children if they become too playful. Private tutors can assign homework to them, so that they can spend their time in a more meaningful way. A private tutor can thus act the role of a disciplinarian,” he says.

Oketch adds that sometimes students have personal problems and find it hard to confide in their teachers and parents.

“Depending on the calibre and professionalism of the private tutor, the child might find it easier engaging the private tutor who lends a listening ear.

However, there have also been arguments against this arrangement. It’s normally believed that private coaching is for rich parents.

Evans Hashikamana, a student says, his parents are not financially well-off to offer him a private tutor. 

“Private tuition may be a financial burden to many parents who are poor. However, when the student is a slow learner who needs a tutor outside school, tuition is a necessary evil. Some students treat their tutors as a walking dictionary, expecting them to furnish answers to the homework given by school without thinking through the solutions by themselves. This can make them mentally lazy,” Evans says.

Faith Iradukunda, a student at Ifak Secondary School, Kimuhurura, says her parents have organised for her a private tutor although she is not normally in the mood for tutorship after spending the whole day in the classroom.

“I have to spend two hours in the evening with the tutor. In school, we also have remedial lessons after the normal classes. This makes us strain so much because we don’t have time to engage in co-curricular activities and socialising. Even during weekend, I have to attend classes,” she says.

Victor Ngarambe, a father of a student in a Kicukiro school, says there are many parents who have unreasonable expectations in their children. He says: “They insist that their children engage private tutors even though the children perform well academically.”

Ngarambe says although the idea of engaging a private tutor is benign, especially when the student is academically weak, the private coaching has been commercialised by some teachers, who demand big pay despite the fact that they teach for only a few hours.

“Parents pay school fees. I don’t see the reason why teachers should demand extra lessons if they can’t deliver in normal classroom. Some of them don’t take their work seriously but will spend more energy when paid to tutor,” he says.

Regulation needed

Ngarambe also says the benefits are plentiful if parents manage to find a good tutor who can add value their students to achieve academic success. However, he believes that government should step in and regulate private tutoring.

“There are many people who have established private tutoring centres. However, some of them don’t have the necessary skills or degrees to teach the subjects they claim to offer. These are quack teachers who are taking advantage of desperate parents to milk money from them. They should be investigated and action taken against them.”

Charles Nzeyimana who says that he has engaged a private tutor for his child says that the advantages of private turoring far outweigh disadvantages.

“Sometimes students are unable to concentrate during lessons for various reasons, such as distractions, not feeling well or explanation gaps. Therefore, students miss many key points taught during lessons. Under such circumstances, private tutors can re-explain the topics learnt, reiterate key points, abstract concept and help to solve problems students find difficult to tackle, he says.”

He adds that he has seen improvement in his child’s performance since he engaged the services of a private tutor.

“This keeps him from taking part in unproductive activities like watching television after school.”

 

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