NSSO Report on education: Insights into the private tutoring industry
The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), in the first half of 2014, conducted a survey of 66,000 households. The report presents the proliferating nature of the private tutoring industry existing in India. The major highlights of the report are:
- A glaring 21% of the student population, estimated at 7.1 crore, resort to private tuitions to bridge the gap between classroom learning and academic ambitions.
- An estimated 11–12% of the total expenditure incurred by families goes into tuitions.
- The average of secondary and senior secondary male students opting for tuitions is 37.8%.
Similarly, a 2013 statistics, released by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, states that the private tutoring industry witnessed a steep rise of 35%.
A peep into the efficacy of private tuitions:
Over 89% respondents of the NSSO survey said that “augmenting basic education” was the major reason behind resorting to private tuitions. This indeed is a whiplash on the efficacy of the education system in India, considering the whopping amount of Rs. 586,085 crore that was spent on primary education alone in the last decade. The 2014 Annual Status of Education Report, prepared by Pratham, an NGO for education, further highlights the dismal situation, conveying that not more than 26% of children in grade V can do division, a drop by more than 10%, compared to the previous four years.
However, the fact that majority of the tuitions taken by students are through coaching centres, defeats the entire purpose. These tutorials or coaching centres conduct study sessions in batches, which in many cases are of a large size. Learning in batches, especially where the class size is large — be it in classrooms or tuition centres — results in the setting up of a standard pace of learning, to which every learner is required to conform. While some learners might be able to meet this requirement, every batch has learners who either fail to cope with the standards or consider the learning process extremely slow.
Ability grouping of learners is often seen as an alternative to this, wherein learners are segregated into different groups as per their learning abilities. Experts have long debated on the effect of this model on student achievement. While some claim on its positive impact — subject to constant reassessment of students’ abilities — ability grouping while segregating students definitely does segregate resources, instructional methodologies and opportunities. An ideal is impossible and therefore such a model might ultimately end in the same note as that in batch studies: of learners not being able to achieve their potential to the maximum.
Tutorials fail to cater to the need of each student and their style of learning. The ill-effects of this are often ignored, which can have a negative impact on the learner’s psyche who might start losing faith in their abilities.
Self-learning: an effective alternative to private tuitions
In the face of such a situation, self-learning emerges as an effective alternative to help learners achieve their academic goals. As the term explains itself, self-learning is a learning process which is not mediated by any direct supervision, and learners themselves are in charge of their learning. In the context of the Indian education system, we cannot think of completely doing away with instructor-led courses. However, learners can choose self-learning as an additional learning process to augment their classroom education and make the learning process complete.
The many advantages of self-learning
The obvious questions which you might ask are: “Can a learning process which is not guided by an experienced instructor produce the desired results? Isn’t there a chance of the process becoming directionless?” Experimental researches uphold a contrary view. Self-learning has numerous advantages, which if reaped carefully, would benefit every learner.
- Self-paced learning – Self-learning provides you with the the scope and time to study at your own pace. You understand yourself and your needs the best. In self-learning you do not have to match up to an expected pace and produce results within the stipulated time. You can set the pace for yourself, build up momentum and take charge of your studies and produce satisfactory results. With stress eliminated, focussed learning is the obvious result. Not only do you meet success, you also experience a boost in your confidence when you choose self-learning for yourself.
- Active participation as opposed to passive reception – The underlying rationale behind the recent adoption of lab-based experimentation, hands-on learning, student-led enquiry and manipulables by educators, is that students tend to learn better when they can control the flow of their experience. In such instances, the learner is an active participant in the learning process rather than a passive recipient of concepts.
Similarly, self-learning is a form of active learning wherein the learner is absolutely in control of his learning process. Being completely involved in the process helps the learner retain concepts better and longer.
- Enhancement of independent research skills – Being involved in the process of self-learning makes you an independent and responsible learner, additionally enhancing your problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Self-learning therefore prepares you for your future academic life, where the teacher’s role will be more of a facilitator than an instructor.
- Anytime anywhere learning – Learning happens anytime and at any place. Self-learning lives true to this philosophy. As a self-learner, your learning is not limited to the space and hours of a classroom or tutorial session. Not only are you in charge of your resources, but also of how best to utilise them.
And there is always the intrinsic reward of being in command of learning your lessons successfully and effectively mastering them.