Why do parents send their children to private tutors?

 Many have voiced their concern over parents sending their children to private tutors as soon as they start attending school. This is not a new trend. However, the number of school students who receive private tuition has increased at an alarming rate in the last two-three decades in Manipur. You ask the parents and their answer is they have no choice as most peers do the same. It is high time the government tried to find out the real worth of private tuition. Is there a wide gap between those who can afford it and those who cannot afford?
Do parents feel that the teachers at school do not teach them properly or their children are weak and need special attention from home tutors? If they are weak in a particular subject(s) is it not the responsibility of their school teachers to take care of them? What makes the parents feel that their children need a private tutor?
There is nothing strange about parents hiring private tutors to help their children with their studies as they reach secondary or senior secondary level which parents consider a critical stage in their children’s career. We have witnessed mushrooming of private coaching centres which promise best teachers for each and every subject and excellent performance by all students attending them in both the secondary and senior secondary examinations. Every coaching centre looks overcrowded whether it is located in a crowded or an isolated area. Half-page or full-page advertisements will appear simultaneously in almost all the newspapers published in the state announcing the outstanding “performances” and “achievements” of these coaching centres in senior secondary examinations, JEE or NEET as soon as their results are declared. These results show that the coaching centres have many common students.
Take a leisurely drive in and around Imphal and you will find at least two or three big signboards of private tutors of particular subjects in many localities. You will often see the title “Sir” before the names of the tutors. Students of both private and government schools take their help and guidance. These private tutors more often than not are school or college teachers (both private and government) whose time is divided between tutoring and teaching. Can we blame them when the students as well as their parents insist on their help? The students spend more time with their tutors than with their school teachers.
One of the main reasons why parents seek help from private tutors is they feel a teacher cannot pay due attention to each and every student in a classroom which normally has fifty or more students. They think a private tutor can only help their son or daughter with their lessons. The fact is the classroom of a private tutor is often overcrowded with students from different government and private schools.
The truth is those in the responsible position have not been successful in creating an academic atmosphere which is conducive to the growth of our society. It is not the law and order problem that is affecting the academic atmosphere in Manipur. The present situation calls for a serious examination by all concerned to understand the problems ailing the system.
Why should parents send their children who are regularly going to school to private tutors who are often their school teachers? Do they really believe that the future of their children is secured if they are given private tuition from an early age? Manipur is not the only state of India where students go for private tuition. The trend is visible in other states too.
We had a private tutor who also taught in my school when I was very young. He taught us (my sisters and cousins) all the subjects in the afternoon. I was too young to understand the benefit of the tuition. I wanted to play with my friends instead of sitting next to him trying to learn multiplication table by rote.
Incidentally parents either meet old friends or make new friends as they escort their children to private tutors and go for morning and evening walks together everyday as they wait for their children discussing future plans for their sons and daughters after the twelfth class. They remain friends long after the tuitions were over and their children went outside Manipur looking for greener pastures.
(The writer can be reached at nsabitam@yahoo.com, nsabitam@gmail.com).

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