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JustHere | December 10, 2016

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Tuitions step in where schools fail

Tuitions step in where schools fail
Cassey Oliveira

The Supreme Education Council has now made it mandatory for all independent schools in the country to provide extra classes for free particularly for academically weak students after school hours. With this step, SEC hopes to bring a stop to the mushrooming private tuition network in the country.

Private tuitions have earned themselves the moniker ‘necessary evil’ over the years due to the negative impact that most of them have on students. In addition to increasing stress levels among students to exorbitant fees that private tutors charge, the SEC noted that sending students for private tuition has “encouraged absenteeism in the classes and made students lazy”.

Nasser Al Naama, who graduated from a public school in 2007, said that this new rule from the SEC seems like ‘damage control’. “They are at least providing a temporary solution for a bad situation. The truth is that despite being in the country for long, public schools (now independent schools) haven’t yet produced well-educated students. Back when I was a student, we didn’t really anything from school. We were just given the study material and were made to memorise it. But in order to understand the subject, we had to go to private tuition.” And these tutors didn’t come cheap. “They were very few experienced tutors and hence were in high demand. We had tutors coming in even at midnight as we were desperate for one” he added.

“Sometimes we would have 50 students in one class. It was hard to ask questions or get into the flow.”

Another independent school graduate, who chose to remain anonymous, said that it was mainly the teacher-student ratio that was the problem in public schools. “Sometimes we would have 50 students in one class. It was hard to ask questions or get into the flow.”

However, he isn’t too sure how the new rule by SEC would help. “What additional help would these extra classes provide beyond the regular classes? How much more information will they provide? There is a limit to which six or seven-year-olds can process information too. The teachers need to be creative in the way they teach, this rules out the need for extra classes.”

With the new rule, schools will develop special curricula for these extra classes that range from compensatory and bridging programmes to preparatory classes for internal and international tests as well as qualifying examinations for university admission. Each class will comprise a maximum of 15 students. With sixteen hours for each subject, the classes will be spread over four to eight weeks.  Read the full report here.

Not just independent schools

The concept of private tuitions isn’t restricted to students from independent schools. You can find several expatriate parents sending their children to private tutors.

One such parent R Altoun said she had a hard time last year when her 5-year old daughter refused to go to school. “The communication between students and teachers at her school was very low because of which my daughter never enjoyed studying. The teachers expect the kids to understand everything in the first instance. They would get angry if the student asked them to explain certain topics again.”

“The teachers expect the kids to understand everything in the first instance. They would get angry if the student asked them to explain certain topics again.”

Worried about her daughter’s low level of performance at school, Altoun enrolled her in a private coaching institute, Oxford Learning Centre. “It’s a little expensive, but I found it really good. There is one teacher for every student.”

The centre offers after-school and summer programmes that provide remedial support for children from preschool through high school in English, Math, Science, study and learning (cognitive) skills. “My daughter enjoyed the four months that she was with the centre. They treated her like a star.”

The only hassle that Altoun faced was having to shuttle between school, coaching class, and home, but she says that private tuitions are good for parents who don’t have the time or knack for teaching kids at home.

JustHere also spoke to a schoolteacher of an Indian school who has been offering private tuitions in Mathematics and Science for Grade 4-10 students for the past 20 years. “I feel private tuition are beneficial for those students who need special attention. In a classroom, there is a mix of academically bright students and slow learners. So when teachers try to teach at an average pace, the bright students start to get bored while slow learners find it difficult to cope. I take only four students per class, so there is a better teacher-student ratio by which students can be trained better,” he said.

Private tuitions are often considered as a means to earn extra income, but the teacher says that for him it’s more about teaching than the money. “I never negotiate with the parents. The lowest I have charged is QR300 per month for eight sessions of two hours each. I know of people who charge around QR1100 for the same. I don’t discriminate students based on the fee that they pay. It’s upto their parents, I don’t have any complaints.”

This brings us to a study conducted by the Doha-based Social and Economic Survey Research Institute in 2011 that stated around 40% of Qatar’s total student population takes private lessons to prepare for the exams.

Below is the average annual cost that parents spend on private tuitions per child for an academic year:

Independent schools QR8,000
International schools QR14,000
Private Arabic schools QR3,000

 

You might want to check out our series on schooling in Qatar.
Homeschooling in Qatar: Convenience or compulsion?
School admissions in Qatar: Tough Lessons To Learn

 

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