Thursday, 12 July 2012

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Tyranny of Tuition Culture: Reflections of a Student

Tyranny of Tuition Culture: Reflections of a Student 

Hassan Shahid

Which academy do you have joined? Which instructor teaches you? How many tuitions do you take in a day and how many tests do these apparently education providers take from you? These are the questions which are now more likely to be asked by society while estimating a student’s chances of getting into a professional university. I still remember when I got admission into top engineering institutes like NUST and UET my juniors and their parents asked me the same aforementioned questions. This reminds the success of tuition mafia’s message that they are the only solution for the students who are hankering for high staked limited seats of engineering and medical. However the menace of these tuition centers is yet not clear to society. 

In the past tuition was considered for those who were incapable to catch up with the pace of class work in college. But now in most cases it is observed that there are three Physics teachers for explaining simple Newton’s Law to just one student. Each year with the announcement of board results and university merit, academies advertise the results of their successful students. The ad-effect and the tendency of society to follow the popular trend have created an irresistible demand for home/private-academy tuition. Consequently, some parents have made their children so much dependent on tuitions that after six hour of straight college lectures poor students are sent to coaching centers and then at night come a home tutor for taking tests. Thanks to this strenuous everyday routine students don’t even find time to process and absorb what they have listened in the twice repeated lectures. So, they get no time for self-study and self-reflection. 

According to various studies on human brain an average person can concentrate for 45 minutes after that he either needs a short break or his capacity to preserve starts declining. A recent study by University of Florida concludes that last minute preparation and cramming reduces overall retention of information and also damage mental abilities. But I’ve observed that our tutors and the time constraints compel students to undertake meaningless cramming and oozing of the stuff. Resultantly, even the best performers at tuition-academies fail to get through the entry tests in which conceptual understanding of the subjects is required. Many of my class mates became victims of this same phenomenon. 

To become a doctor or an engineer is ingrained in the brains of children since childhood. These two professions are redundantly given importance and preference over others. The business oriented academies and tutors further reinforce student’s obsession for these pursuits. The pressure to get professional degrees becomes a nightmare of many students. Some others influenced by the success stories try to find out whether they are up to the task or not.  Even if they are not self-motivated they try to internalize goals set by teacher-parents nexus.  Many end up in failure just like the classic description in essay, Why Boys Fail in College. I’ve seen many students wasting their time and energy. Had they been facilitated to discover their potential they could have become artists, businessmen, lawyers or accountants otherwise.  But unfortunately the range of professions has been unnecessarily narrowed down the tuition culture.  

Under the same influences, when I did my matriculation I got my holidays lost in shuttling between academies. Initially I found it quite difficult to cope up with but later I recognized that it is the trauma of Fsc not books which intimidate me. One can do much better with concentration in college lectures and self study. Tuition centers are just complicating the things and making a student’s job harder. Most of the students recognize the problem and question the usefulness of tuitions.  Parents also feel the tyranny of tuition system (home-college-academy) but still tuition practice is by no means reducing. The reason is most of government colleges have a very miserable condition. The same teacher has quite different motivation and attitude at college and the tuition centre because at tuition he is paid much better by students. A better payment and fear for losing customers provides a teacher much incentive for effective teaching. However, in colleges the attention and quality of lectures are falling. No wonder, students are losing interest in class lectures. However, they have to attend college classes too because attendance is mandatory. There can be no real learning in such environment, as essence of education has been distorted very badly. The Fsc students find no time for co-curricular and extracurricular activities.  No need to emphasize that how essential are the sports and recreation for keeping a mind and body healthy. But attending tuition centers and college deprives the science students of all the healthful activities.

On the other hand, teachers are also not felicitous on doing both jobs because they have to pay a lot as opportunity cost of their time but private coaching is rare source of income for a little better living.  Government should provide college teachers the better salary packages and social status along with a better system of accountability for work shirkers. This will help to improve the academic environment and functioning of the colleges. Teachers spared from the worries of earning livelihood would be able to concentrate on their profession. It would help to curb unhealthy tuition culture. Furthermore, well equipped career counseling centers should be established to provide guidance to the students. Students yearning for spoon-feeding also need to understand that concentration in class lectures and a meaningful research combined with self-education can yield much better results than that of existing tuition system. In a nutshell, there are better options and endless possibilities waiting for those who can dare to think creatively and discover new vistas in life. (Ends)