From childhood I witnessed, with mixed feelings, Dad’s relentless struggle managing the expenses in a middle class family of eight. But I grew up in a very safe and happy environment emulating the ethical life style of my parents.
My schooling started in an affordable primary school, where medium of instruction was Hindi/Bengalee. It was in 1950s that my family members decided to shift me to a good Public School so that I could be fluent in English unlike most of my siblings. Studying in a public school like St Joseph’ Academy, Dehra Dun, those days was considered prestigious as few could afford to bear the expenses. Sensing the added burden, Dad’s strong initial reluctance was swayed by persistence of my elder sister, in particular.
Being totally tongue tied with conversational English, I walked into the classroom full of complexes and apprehensions. After admission, repeated adulatory comments of others impacted me in that I too felt elated for going to an illustrious school managed by ‘Irish Brothers’. Although the choice increased financial burden, my dear ones were prepared to cut corners for me. Thus started my selfish yet fortunate journey of school life!
Until Pre-senior Cambridge (equivalent of class X now), I had no understanding of anything known as ‘tuitions’, meaning ‘teaching instruction, especially when given individually or in a small group’ for a reasonable amount over and above school fees. Over the years tuition fee has been rising arbitrarily on the competitive principle of ‘demand and supply’ governed by the reputation of institutions/individuals. Pertinently, increasing number of such ‘reputed tuition centres’ are running parallel classes like schools with over 40 students in each batch. Ironically, these money spinning centers are thriving, promoted and patronized by willing parents.
Many of my classmates were taking tuitions in science subjects from a teacher, reputed more for discouraging students from taking tuitions as he did not wish to fleece parents of disinterested students. In fact few of them were forced to discontinue as they were found wanting in their focus and efforts. Perhaps such ethical attitude of teachers has become a part of history.
I for one could not even think of going for tuitions as my Dad was unable to bear the additional burden of Rs 40/- per month, a substantial amount those days. To be honest I was more than tempted to join the tuition classes to improve my performance but financial constraint was something that I chose to accept willingly. In retrospect, not only I have no regrets I am happy that the circumstantial compulsions enabled me to be more confident and empowered in resolving difficulties on my own.
Until joining Doon Youth Center (DYC), I was unable to perceive the seriousness of the issues relating to the ubiquitous ‘tuition culture’. At DYC I was made aware of ground realities by forthright inputs from the school students interacting in a friendly and non-judgmental environment. Without awareness of such real life feed back, the question ‘Tuitions are Bane or Boon’ may sound blasphemous in a growing ‘culture of tuitions’ and invite the wrath of parents and adults. Therefore in all fairness, adults need to be made aware of ground realities as narrated by kids. Thus providing opportunity to them to evaluate whether their skewed perception needs correction!
- Affected by hormonal changes attraction for the opposite sex is normal during teenage years. Due to cultural mindsets and lack of knowledge in parenting, most parents shy away from addressing this reality of life. Bombarded by unfiltered inputs on sexuality, stormy teenage years cause a lot of confusion and frustration. Most teenagers, for want of healthy parental support flow along the ‘stream of unhealthy sexuality’. Therefore, their emotional vulnerability index remains high. Unless teenagers are empowered, would they be able to benefit from tuitions?
- Soon after I joined DYC in 2000 after undergoing training in counseling, the first telephone call on helpline was from a girl of grade VIII. Haltingly she narrated her struggle-“there is one boy in my tuition class. I like him a lot but he is ignoring me. What should I do?” My conditioned response to advise her, being a novice counselor, boomeranged. I failed her miserably for which I still feel uncomfortable. The point is whether tuition culture renders most teenagers vulnerable to such episodes!
- During Parents-Teachers meeting in one of the reputed schools, the principal advised parents not to send their daughters for tuitions as it was meeting place for boy/girl friends.
- When students know that doubts can be clarified during tuition, will he make any genuine effort to solve any problem? Being so dependant it is likely that tuition would act as a crutch rather than support for becoming independent.
- One can imagine the intensity of pressure on poor parents pandering to the demands of kids for tuitions. I know of the struggle one such lady, ailing from cancer but working as ayah in hospital because her husband is unfit to work.
- Seldom do we hear of philanthropic venture into tuitions like the one in Bihar doing yeomen service in grooming IIT aspirants from poor families.
- Feedback from Students.
- Teachers pressurize us to take tuitions threatening to deduct marks otherwise. Students taking tuitions become teachers pet.
- Teacher of so and so subject teaches nothing in the class but is a very good tuition teacher.
- Tuitions are a waste of time as environment there is very distracting. If I do not want to study, no one can make me do so.
- I go for tuitions because of parental pressure. Tuitions cause so much stress that I have stopped enjoying my childhood.
- Tuitions are a place more for social life than studies. Those who have less freedom at home misuse this opportunity and make wrong choices. They are not in minority for sure.
- Tuition is a lucrative business especially for those without any purpose of life and their insatiable greed for lucre.
Do I need to conclude whether ‘Tuition is Bane or Boon’?