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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

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Education is not TUITION , right ?

Reasons for the enlarging TUTION CLASSES

1. High stiff competition born out of parental ambitions to see children in medicine, engineering, civil services, management and accountancy. To achieve these goals of parents, what else helpless parents and children do other than attending tuition classes when they feel that they cannot get what they expect from the schools?1

2. Slow-learners and academically-weak students plus those without motivation find no support in packed classrooms and teachers do not have any alternatives other than attending tuition classes.

3. Brilliant students need further work to become rankers to come out in the news. Sometimes these rankers receive the blessings of the President of the country.

4. Many parents are unable to help children with home work at specialized levels due to lack of knowledge.

5. The other main problem is the lengthy curriculum that teachers have to teach in a specific period of time. (Most f times, only 40 minutes allocated for one subject)

6. Scarcity of efficient teachers is also another problem which warrants the students to go for the extra classes.

7 . Communication gap between teachers and students is also another problem which compel the students seek extra help in the tuition classes.

8. Sometimes academic time-tables are disturbed by the extra-curricular activities of students and house meets of the schools itself.

9. Preference of some subjects over others especially Mathematics, Science and Mother Language get the students to go after tuition.

Education of children without any doubt is the top priority for most parents. Will it be a misleading statement? Can we attribute the education of children only to the parents? My simple answer to the above two questions is that education of any country should be the top priority of all the citizens in a country. Most people in the world think improving the economy and creating more jobs are the top most important tasks of any government. In the event, providing the better education is the only answer to achieve the said two tasks.

Proper education

In short, all educationists in the globe believe that lawmaking people in any country must do everything humanly possible to ensure students get proper education at the proper ages. Some argue that students should be able to read by the end of third grade. As per the well-recognised Educationists, third grade is a pivotal year. After working since kindergarten to learn to read, children in third grade transit from reading to learning. If they do not master the skill by then or soon after, they will face increased difficulty in trying to learn throughout their school career. In our country, can we be happy saying our third graders are proficient in reading? In my view, this is the grade our children begin to prepare themselves for the grade 5 scholarship examination. Grade 5 scholarship examination is one of the highly competitive examinations in Sri Lanka. This examination is popularly known as the Mothers' exam. This is the examination through which about 15 to 20% highly successful students will be eligible to find most popular schools in Sri Lanka. These three years (i.e. grade 3 to 5); our children are having much more common-sense than the other higher grade students. Their reading ability is very much higher. They are forced to read more and more stating that unless they read effectively well they will not be able to write the short essay and use the correct grammar in the grade five scholarship examination.

As I said before, Like in other countries even in Sri Lanka, education is the top priority. Its aim is to promote democracy with regards to education; moral, physical and spiritual development, and lifelong learning. It should also help to develop deeper understanding of the environment, culture and the religious heritage of Sri Lanka, whilst producing a population who have the skills necessary to meet the country's needs.

It is reported that Sri Lanka has a literacy rate of 94.2 % which is of course without the computer literacy. This is higher than anywhere else in Asia, and is especially high for a developing country. The enrolment rate in public primary schools reached 99% in 2011, which also highlights the success of the Sri Lankan promotion of education. Sri Lanka Literacy is pretty impressive with a rate of about 94.2%, which is not only high in a third world country, but also quite commendable in the whole of South Asia. Sri Lanka Literacy applies to any person who is over 15, can write and read properly as well as understand simple, short sentences pertaining to daily life. At a recent speech made by the Deputy Minister of Education in November last year, it was announced that our literacy rate has increased to 98% while computer literacy rate has shot up to 38%. It is not my intention to ascertain the accuracy of the above statement by this article. My only intention is to stress the fact that education is the prime priority of any country.

Offered free

Education is regulated by the government, or more precisely specific ministries within the government, and all levels of education are offered free . Primary and Secondary schools are regulated by the National Ministry of Education. The Universities are overseen by the Ministry of Higher Education.

Though the literacy rate has increased to a highly satisfactory level in the country as was stated before, the news we hear had been very bad at the end of every public examination such as GCE (O/L) and (A/L). The bad news is that only a few schools have performed well in those examinations. In Sri Lanka, it is reported every year, If a school student has performed less well than before, or less well than reasonably expected, it could have been due to a number of causes such as Poor eyesight, Poor hearing, school bullying, domestic problems, parental pressure, poor motivation, less commitment of teachers and Puberty etc.;

To overcome such unfortunate situations and to face the examinations successfully all what parents do is to direct their children to the supporting classes after schools (very popularly known as Tuition classes) spending a lot of money and wasting productive time of students. Since their children cannot achieve the level of education from the schools, invariably this is the only remedial action the parents could take to help the weaker students to cope with today's competitive learning environment. In fact, home tuition has long been an integral part of our education scene.

The tuition industry has been thriving so well that people are turning to becoming tutors as it can be a lucrative career. Evidently, many parents do not hesitate to send their children for tuition classes the moment they sense their children is lacking behind in their studies.

There are also many parents who engaged tutors to ensure that their children will continue to excel in their studies. What is private tuition? Private tuition is extra lessons conducted by a tutor and it may take place in the home or a tuition center. Usually, the most common and most expensive tuition lessons is when you get personal one-to-one teaching with a qualified, experienced teacher as a tutor who comes to your place. So the next question is doing our children really need private tuition? Is it not enough what they are learning in school? Well it may be or it may not be. It will necessary be only when a child feels he or she needs extra help. Tuition has always been associated with children with lower ability or having difficulties in certain subjects.

Some of them may not even fail but may miss on a few marks than expected or lower than what they scored in the previous test or exams. However, losing a few marks does not mean that they need extra lessons. Forcing a child to attend extra class is not only a waste of money and time, but can add unnecessary stress to the child. It is important as parents that they also convince their child why the extra classes are necessary. There can be many other factors that contribute to the decline. Parents can actually do some simple analysis so as to get a bigger picture of what has happened and why it happened. Back in the 80s and even now, parents conveniently benchmark their achievement with another child that scored highest in the class. While this may be one of the ways to compare how the child fares in the test, it may not be the only way or the best for that matter. After a test, usually many students will feedback information such as how many in the class passed the test and how many did not to their parents.

Now that is the critical information that you actually need to know so as to understand what had happened. For example, if half the class failed the test or a subject paper and Thisaru achieved 60% of the total mark, then this actually shows several meaning. Firstly, the paper may have been deliberately set to be more challenging with stretching; capability as the main objective. Secondly, this may show that Thisaru has done considerably well bearing in mind that the paper was challenging. Blaming or showing dissatisfaction to the child may result in the child having poor self-esteem and be unmotivated to do his best in future. Next scenario is that 90% of the class passed the test and more than half of the class scored 85% or higher.

Even, when Thisaru scored 80% for the test, this totally shows a different meaning. The virtue of the fact that almost all students in the class passed the test and majority did very well actually indicates that the paper is manageable to all. Parents of Thisaru may want to tactfully probe further as to why Thisaru did not do as well as the rest.

Extra help

If a Child shows indication that he or she needs extra help, then having tuition will definitely help the child to achieve greater success. In this case, engaging a tutor is definitely worth the money spent. But parents cannot solely depend on the tutor to achieve results. Parents working together with teachers and tutors are a good way to ensure that healthy communication between them is continuous for the good of the child.

Private tuition can be necessary provided the parents understand fully what needs to be achieved. If by having tuition, the child achieve the objectives or targets set, then the extra hours is worth paying for. Do not hire a private tutor just because your neighbour's child has private tuition and is doing well.

The need of your child and your neighbour's child differs tremendously. It is very important to discuss with your child your expectations and together, set the targets for the year. Assure your child that you are providing support by engaging a private tutor to help him or her achieve the targets that was agreed between you and your child. In this way, the child will understand why he needs a private tutor and how he can benefit fully from the extra classes.

Most parents believe that private tuition is the only solution. If the teaching is good in schools why do students to go after Tuition masters? Most students believe they do not get proper teaching at schools and their final verdict is teaching bad in general and, tuition ensures passing the exams. Private tutors keep students busy during off hours and we do see students very often who prepares for O/L and A/L are on the roads late in the evenings in uniforms. Whatever said and done, in the current academic environment, private tuitions are a practical necessity. These were the views of high school students about private tuition centers in Sri Lanka. In my view, though there seems to be varied reasons for students to seek private tutoring, the predominant one is the need to score better.

Is extra education necessary?

Once again my view is that tuition is not the answer. Three to four hours in tuition class is not an answer to poor performance in school. Yes, of course students will learn the answers, but not how to think and correct themselves! Money spent in private tuitions can be saved for higher studies.

In today's scenario, "extra education" reaches only those who can pay large sums for it. Some teachers do not give attention to the pupils in class and lure them for private tuitions. Tuition institutes are earning more money than the institutes to which they send their "specially-trained pupils." The system exhausts the students instead of educating them. We have no choice but to support tuitions until our education system is cleansed.

Finally I would like to say that "Tuition is a personal choice" and it has become a fashion. It has come to a stage where no parent can refuse the child's request to attend tuition classes. If they refuse by any chance child performs badly at the examination he or she will have a big excuse to defend him.

There is no doubt about it that cramming centres help their students to get higher marks in examinations. Drills in repeatedly answering important questions asked in the previous years' examinations according to the same syllabus remove doubt from the examinees' minds. Thus they can instantly mark the correct answer, with speed and efficiency uncommon for undrilled examinees. However, these marks do not reveal their IQ, EQ, and reasoning ability. They become able to answer the topics covered by their tutors, without learning to discover for them.

Tuition centres kill their creative imagination. They fail to get puzzled by simple things that appear to be obvious. They forget all what they memorized when they go to their place of work later on.

Nowadays there is a mushroom growth of tuition centers across the country. I do not know whether these centres do really have full time trained faculty on their rolls. The parents of the kids also do not check with the qualification and background of the so called faculty in these tuition centres. These centres get flat fees per subject from each student but do not deliver at all. If a student gets more than 60% in the tests then what is the need for tuition. With proper motivation and guidance from parents definitely he can score 90% and above.

Most of parents in the country do go after successful schools thinking that their method of teaching is much more effective. This is totally a myth. Even the students of these so-called successful schools go for the extra classes after school. I do not think you could find one single student who succeeds in examinations does so without attending tuition classes. In the past we have seen certain students who have become top rankers in their examinations telling the media that they achieved these superior results without attending extra classes. But if they could tap their hearts honestly, they will know that they are making a false statement. By making this statement, I am not going to say that there are no successful schools and also one or two extra-ordinary students in the country.

What makes a school successful?

How the commitment of teachers and parents can make or break a school

Why do some schools perform well while others do not? What differentiates a successful school from other schools? Through my experience, five Factors that Made a Positive Difference.

1. Presence of a committed Principal
2. Active involvement of teachers
3. Active involvement of parents
4. Educational background of parents.
5. Good school practices (cleanliness, neatness and orderliness)

Five Factors that Did Not Make a Difference

1. Infrastructure
2. Teacher profile
3. Personality of teachers and Principals
4. Proximity of teachers to school
5. Economic background of parents

In other words, most infrastructure and teacher demographic related parameters did not have a major bearing on learning outcomes. The key differentiators were essentially an 'An efficient teacher system' comprising the commitment, discipline and efforts of the Principal and other teachers and 'An involved community system' comprising active School Development Society (SDS) and parents. Qualitative improvements will happen through the leadership and commitment of Principals and teachers and an active demand for good quality education from parents.

Factors influencing school performance

We will now look at the successful schools and the parameters behind their success when compared to other schools. Schools were evaluated on quantitative measures such as school infrastructure, school management, socio-economic background of enrolled children and community factors such as functioning of the SDS and presence of active NGOs or well-wishers in the village. The qualitative measures included attitude and commitment of teachers, quality of teaching and class room practices.

Conclusion

Should schoolchildren go for tuition? Some parents believe they need the additional help only for subjects they are weak in, and often it is the language subjects. Others say it is not necessary if the schools are adopting the proper teaching techniques and have a very good teacher-student relationship.

This is a comment of a mother of two children, aged twelve and fourteen:

"My children do not go for tuition at the moment, but they are involved in other activities which are not available at their school, such as speech, drama, music and swimming.

My eldest daughter is quite academically-inclined.

As such, she is able to do reasonably well with minimal guidance. However, with the change where Mathematics and Science has become compulsory subjects, she needs some guidance and support, which I am able to provide - by explaining the keywords and terminologies.

I don't want to send her for tuition at such a young age as I don't want her to be dependent on external help. I believe that she should be trained to be an independent learner. I check her school work weekly to see if she needs help in any areas and we work together to improve these areas.

I support her school work with additional workbooks, which are easily available. Through these exercises, she gets the necessary practice needed.

This is what this mother thinks about tuition. But this view may be different from parent to parent and mainly these decisions will be made on the amount of commitment that parents could sacrifice plus their educational and economical levels. If parents are able to commit their time to help their children, that would be best.

Workbooks can be used to supplement school work for additional practice and reinforcement of what has been taught.

Class sizes in most public schools are getting larger - some schools have up to 50 students per class. I doubt that the teacher would be able to give each child the individual attention that they need. Every child learns differently and some may catch up faster than the rest. Parents should also play a role by monitoring their child's homework and progress, if possible. This would help identify any areas that need attention from the beginning.

Generally, kids these days are stressed as their day is filled with numerous activities - from singing, dancing, and music to sports. If they do enjoy it, then why not it is given to them? If tuition is done for the right reasons, then the child would not be stressed. But, if a child is sent for tuition because everyone is going, then it could be to the detriment of the child.

This is a comment made by another mother - My son is 14 years old now and he's not been to any tuition class since young except art class & guitar lessons. His studies and school results are so far very good. I trained him from young to finish all the school homework once he gets home. After that he does his revision and later allows time for either computer games or TV sessions.

I believe that it's not necessary to send kids for tuition if the parent can spend quality time with your child and guide them along the way. As a parent, you need to provide a prepared environment for the child to develop, to explore, to experiment and most importantly to enjoy childhood. Childhood only comes once in a lifetime. Let the child enjoy and be happy. When the child is happy, he will be hungry for knowledge and the parents must be around to provide guidance and give the child freedom - freedom within limits! A child who grows up holistically (total development), will become a better citizen in future, rather than a child who is pushed to excel only academically.

Children now spend almost half of the days in school studying without much rest and if they are sent for tuition after school, they would definitely be exhausted to the maximum! This could result in poor health from overworking and as they are tired, this may result in them unable to pay attention during tuition classes.

The tuition teacher might not like their attitude and scold or punish them for not paying attention and this will make them hate that particular subject.

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