Dr. Manishankar Chakraborty
PHOTO : Students voice protest against HC order to stop private tuition infront of Durgabari, Agartala. TIWN File Photo
Education and healthcare forms the core of Tripuraites spending, and is right there at the top of their priority list of spending, although the reasons are diverse.
The masses of this landlocked state, understands the meaning of education, evident from the literary rates of this minute state, vis-à-vis other more established peers, which in spite of being fortunate in terms of geography and even resources, are dismal when it comes to literacy rates.
Reasons for Tripura to be in this situation are not difficult to find, it is education that has created a mark for Tripuraites, nationally and globally, and coupled with their tenacity, makes the human capital from the state a formidable combination for employers, regulators, civil societies and even governments.
In other words, Tripuraties owing to their personality blended with education makes them a cynosure of all eyes (wish Government of Tripura and/India had some statistics on these lines) to prove the same.
Tripuraites are omnipresent, nationally and internationally, across domains and industries. Of late, there has been a major thrust in the secondary and tertiary education sector of the state, with almost all the disciplines being offered by state, central or private institutions of learning and higher learning respectively. This is indeed praiseworthy and for once, let’s congratulate all the stakeholders in making this a reality, which was a distant pipedream not so long ago!
However, there is one industry within this realm of education and higher education that has contributed tremendously to the educational landscape of the state, but has never been optimized in terms of their abilities and contributions to the state’s overall development.
Furthermore, they have been playing a role behind the scenes that needs to come out to the fore. Adds Partha Sarathi Paul, a police inspector and a proud father of a son who got attractive offers from Blue Chip companies like Thermax and Infosys, and is currently pursuing final year in NIT Agartala, “Private Tuition Industry fills the gap between the education offered by institutions and the ones needed to get top rank either in board exams or to crack competitive exams”.
This makes it very clear that the private tuition industry is playing a significant role in the students shining at the state, national and even at the international level. Does that mean, a yawning gap developing between the delivery of education in the institution and the one offered by private tuition industry varies to a very large extent?
More importantly, is this gap intentional or it is a mere coincidence, where students have developed a culture, along with their parents to have extra attention through private tuition. Whatever, might be the rationale, it is time when this industry ought to be given a facelift and metamorphosed into an organized sector, from the unorganized setup prevailing now.
The private tuition industry of the state, which albeit an unorganized one, is not only a major revenue spinner for a cross section of the society, but is also rendering yeoman services to the growth of the intellectual capital in the state, which unfortunately is getting lost, owing to brain drain.
The question to dwell in this article, is to find out a mechanism to make this industry more organized, where clear cut accountabilities is being laid down to the front-runners in terms of their roles, responsibilities and contribution towards the growth and development of the state, directly and indirectly, as a knowledge provider/contributor. Furthermore, a model need to evolve that would groom quality teachers, even if they are not attached with any institution or is not present in the teaching profession in the first place.
Quite often the trend among career aspirants is to follow the bandwagon emanating from the toppers of state and central board exams, both class tenth and twelfth included, followed by various entrance examinations, for higher education and employment. Add to it the modern day marketing blitzkrieg by various tutorial homes, coaching centers, citing testimonials from the toppers and the guardian-student duo lands up in a ctch-22 situation.
To complicate matters, sometimes it is also perceived that if one is not seeking tuition from teachers of the same institution, it might have an impact on the internal marking, although there are no studies available to prove the same. On a different note, some private tutors like doctors have developed a brand name in the market, resulting in students flocking their residences, only to realize that it resembles a mini school, where the so called personalized attention is missing!
A mere thought that if a teacher attached with an institution offers private tuition to their own students, their contribution in the institution is bound to be questioned, as far as their service level commitment in the institution and that of the private one is concerned. A sensible stakeholder would ask what is impossible to be offered in the institution that would be delivered in a private set-up. Such queries would definitely ruffle feathers of many private tutors who are attached to some institutions, but, it is important for the regulators to understand these situations, in the overall benefit of the students, teachers, parents and institution.
The same holds true for doctors serving in hospitals and running parallel practices. Some private tutors who are able to create a niche for themselves and has developed as an independent brand, devoid of any association with specific institution have been able to understand the market pulse better.
They have proved themselves irrespective of any affiliation of any institution. This lot is skillful enough to understand the requirement of the student and parents and are successfully in grooming performers. In such a scenario how can this haphazard situation be converted into a WIN-WIN proposition for all the concerned stakeholders, viz. tutors, students, institutions, parents, society, government and the state at large?
Here are some recommendations, which can be brainstormed by all concerned, before actually customizing it in the overall benefit of the state and its talent.
(1) The department of education and higher education should have an offshoot managing all private tutors at the primary, secondary and the tertiary level.
(2) The offshoot, or a regulatory body should register all the tutors along with their personal details, viz. Education, experience, affiliation etc.
(3) There should be a continuous evaluation of student and parent satisfaction of these private tutors on the basis of their performance in private as well as in the institution they are attached with. Grading has to be done on this basis and higher grades would be provided where the tutor gets an equal grading on both the spheres.
(4) The private tutors should be subjected to a periodical test, annually or bi-annually to check for their knowledge, attitude and skill enhancement and this would contribute towards their annual grading and offering of a license to pursue private tuition as a career.
(5) Licensing can be terminated by the regulatory body on the basis of poor and unethical performance by the tutor, which might have impacted the stakeholders of the industry, in a negative manner.
(6) The assessment of a tutor should also compare the performance of the students being guided and the commensurate results over a period of time, say for the last two years to five years respectively.
(7) The evaluation should be a comprehensive one whereby, all factors are taken into consideration that can directly and indirectly impact all the stakeholders of the private tuition industry.
(8) There would be an allotted quota provided by the regulatory body to offer free tuition services to the needy, but brilliant minds, vis-à-vis the number of students tutored and also the ranking in the popularity charts, for each and every tutor.
(9) The tuition fees would be prescribed by the regulatory body commensurate with the level of education, the profile of the tutor, his past performance, his experience and his contribution towards the society and other major stakeholder, the student.
(10) All information should be available centrally in a portal, where stakeholders can have perennial access so as to make informed decision about the selection of private tutors.
(11) The tutors would also be providing with career counseling services through this portal to one and all on a periodical and rotational basis, so that the students gets access to all services pertaining to education, under the same roof. It would also enable a tutor to widen his scope of professional readiness.
(12) The senior pros in the tuition industry should mentor the younger generation and this contribution should also be a part of their overall grade of a tutor.
(13) Teachers attached with an institution would be allowed to don the role of a tutor till he is attached with that institution and on superannuation, if his name dips in the popularity index chart, he should be offered a mentoring and advisory role in the tuition governing body, so as to cash on his rich experience and also offering him an opportunity to earn and learn.
(14) There should be training and development programs with a dedicated annual training cum workshop plan for all tutors, new and old and their participation as participants and facilitators would contribute towards their personal grading as a tutor.
(15) There would be an annual conference of all the stakeholders of the education and higher education industry, with contributions from all concerned, so as to analyze the past and strategize for the future, with an objective of overall growth of the industry.
(16) Tutors forming the service provider list should not only have professional academicians, but also include people with a passion to teach or having rich experience that can enable them to be tutors. Their grading would be done on a comparable manner, so that they are not deprived from their peers, just because they haven’t had professional teaching stints. This in a way would make the industry richer in terms of knowledge, abilities and intellectual base.
(17) There should be annual awards by the state government on various basis, to the best three tutors, viz. best performance of students, excellent community services, tremendous contribution towards the growth of the human capital of the state, best academic counselor, best tutoring mentor and so forth.
(18) The department of education and higher education can contemplate having a separate department to manage this offshoot, which in turn would also provide employment opportunities to many, not to mention the benefits arising out of an organized private tutoring industry.
All these might sound insurmountable in theory, however, they are practically feasible with some serious efforts by all the concerned stakeholders.
More than that, it is the question of changing the mindset and whether one is prepared to do something for the state and the society with increased and specified accountabilities.
This however, does not debar them from earning extra cash, in a level playing field with clear cut policies and procedures.
Being a teacher myself, yours truly always felt, the clan has responsibility towards the masses and not the classes, and therefore, leveraging the core competencies of a teacher can only catapult Tripura in the leagues of the developed states of the country.
As they say, “competition is the mother of invention”, so let there be a competition in a level playing field for all, and let there be a survival of the fittest mechanism, devoid of ridding piggy on institutional affiliations, contacts with the bigwigs and personal branding of a handful! Are the stakeholders listening ?
Dr. Manishankar Chakraborty
International Management Trainer, Consultant and Faculty