Gadgets, gurus fail to offer easy answers- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The global pandemic has cast its shadow on every sphere of human endeavor. Education and learning are no different. While 2020 was all about fitting classrooms into palm-sized gadgets, home-tutoring and private tuitions have seen a sharp uptick in 2021, as students struggled to get their basics right. The prohibitive cost of this evolving new system, however, has excluded thousands of students from its ambit and has created multiple challenges.

For instance, Jesupriya, 11, of Chennai prefers to attend online classes despite having the option to go to school as she wants to make enough time for her home tuitions.  “Physical classes are conducted only for two hours in schools. It is impossible for children to learn all their subjects within that time span. Online classes are mostly videos of classes conducted at schools and they don’t help much either,” says Jesupriya’s mother R Selvi. The Class 6 student attends online classes for two hours and is home-tutored for three hours a day.
While online private tuitions became popular towards the end of 2020, home tuitions took over once the cases started coming down after the second Covid wave. This hybrid methodology, however, has come as a big relief for home tutors who are mostly teachers who had lost their school jobs due the pandemic. They now make Rs 500 to Rs. 700 per class.
Three kinds of tuitions are currently popular —- private group tuitions that cost around Rs 2,000 to Rs.3,000 per month, home tuitions that cost between Rs 200 and Rs.500 per class adding up to Rs 5,000 to 12,000 per month, and online tuitions that cost Rs 1,000 to Rs. 1,200 per month.

“Before the pandemic, a single private tuition class will only be for an hour since students had to attend schools till evening. Now we take classes for at least three hours a day. Tuitions for Classes 4 to 8 are the most sought after,” says K Vani, who lost her teaching job at a private school during the first Covid wave.

S Jennifer, another tutor, says home tutoring is more lucrative compared to her school job. “I was working in a private school in Choolaimedu. My salary was cut from Rs 12,000 to Rs 5,500 per month during the pandemic when schools were shut. I earn more now through home tutoring, and it is way less stressful,” she says.

High-end tuition services that charge Rs.400-Rs.600 per class also offer sessions for clearing doubts, the option to learn additional languages such as French/German, and advanced conceptual coaching.  

With the government approving vaccines for those aged between 15 and 18 from January, schools are expected to resume normal functioning soon. But what a new hybrid method of coaching it may bring about and its cost factor are questions that may impact learning.  

Meanwhile, educationists want schools to resume functioning with full capacity as schooling does not mean just subjects or exams. “The world is facing a crisis because of learning gaps in education created by the pandemic. The cost of online classes is beyond the reach of thousands of students. Even for those who can afford them, these classes don’t help with their overall growth,” says P Ramnathan, an educator in Guindy.

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