Muscat: Parents of schoolchildren in Oman have expressed concern over how their children will be able to do well in the upcoming exams, now that the Board of Directors of Indian Schools in Oman has banned schoolteachers from holding private tuition in their homes.
Read here: Stop private tuition, principals of Indian schools told
A circular issued by the governing body for Indian Schools said that schoolteachers who were found to be conducting private tuition on any scale would be severely penalised if they continued to do so.
Exams in some Indian schools are set to begin next Sunday (September 16), and although the practice is banned by Oman’s Ministry of Education, parents continue to send their students to tutors, many of whom are schoolteachers who host private tuition in their homes to supplement their incomes with lucrative fees.
Parents of weaker children, though, said that they need to send their children to tutors after school hours because they are unable to cope with the pace at which subjects are taught in schools.
“While we appreciate this step taken by the school board, we are equally worried for our children as their exams are round the corner,” said a concerned parent in Oman.
“If the tuition suddenly stops, then their studies would get affected. My son is in grade 11 and he has been taking private tuition for mathematics as it involves a lot of practice and thinking, which isn’t always possible within the fixed classroom timings. It’s a serious concern for me now,” he said.
Another parent added: “The board should have worked out an alternative arrangement first before imposing this. It’s true that private tuition should not be encouraged, but at the same time, there are many students who need extra help. Schools should have the facility of providing such classes post school hours. Only then, will this regulation help. Otherwise, it is just putting more pressure on students and the parents as well.”
Other parents were concerned about how this would affect their existing work-life balance, given that many families who send their children to tutors had both parents going to work to make ends meet. “I am a working mother and my work demands late hours,” said one parent.
“My daughter who is in grade V needs someone to assist her with finishing her homework. I have been depending on private tuition, and now, with this rule, I am worried about how I can help my child. Some children need more time and support apart from the regular classes, and if it is difficult for parents, then what will they do? Will the school make any arrangements for that?”
Other parents were worried about how their children, who unfortunately suffered from learning disabilities, would cope with the news in the circular.
“My son has a learning disability and hence he cannot cope with the regular classes,” said an anxious parent. “It’s only through private lessons that he is able to cope. He needs one-on-one attention. And I am sure that like him there are many students in Indian schools here who have mild to moderate learning disabilities who attend the mainstream classes. As it is, they struggle to cope with academics. With this, it would hamper their studies further. I hope the schools then start extra classes, maybe in the evenings, for such students.”
“Indian School Muscat has been holding remedial classes every Saturday for weak students,” added another parent. “That was a welcome move by the school and helped many students who lag behind in regular classes. Maybe now instead of once a week, they can do it thrice a week after school hours to facilitate easy learning for children.”
The Times of Oman reached out to tutors in Oman to get their perspective on this.
“Many of the students I teach come to me not just for schoolwork, but because they are interested in attempting exams for foreign education,” said one teacher.
“I teach in a manner that includes both the school syllabus and connects that to the exams, so this method of outright banning of tuition appears to be a one-track mind mentality.”
“Many of the students I coach regularly appear for entrance exams in the US, UK and Australia and they are doing well there, so I think whoever has made this rule must understand that there is a bigger picture here,” he added. “Tuition for weak students are given to help them do well at school, and they need them as well. Where will they go for attention?”
“There have been times when I have sat down with students until midnight, making them understand concepts that are very important to them,” said a science teacher who lives in Barka.
“Students from the surrounding areas come to me, but if they shut down tuition, the students and their parents will naturally be worried. The economy right now is not so good, so parents have enough concerns, and now, they will have this pressing concern as well.”
A senior member of the Indian School administrative setup in Oman said the schools had taken enough measures to ensure no children were left behind.
“Tuition per se is not something that has been encouraged at any given point of time, and is not permitted,” he said. “This is just a reminder or re-instigation of the existing rules. I ask the community to not panic, because the schooling system has taken adequate steps and is equipped enough to handle this situation. The school is responsible for carrying out its duties and will take the steps required.”
In addition, a former school management committee president of Indian School Salalah in the Dhofar Governorate said schools were taking steps to ensure students were taught well.
“There is a new concept called gurukul that the schools are bringing in right now,” he said.
“What will happen here is that classes will be taken in the evening as well so that all the tough questions and existing doubts that the students have can be cleared. The school has plans to make it compulsory for all students, and in case they have any doubts, they can be raised here. Normally, these classes are targeted towards the weak students because the other ones will do well on their own.”
“The school will also compensate teachers for the time they will be spending in school during these evening gurukul classes,” he added. “It may not be as lucrative as the private tuitions that are being held, where each student is charged some OMR20 per month, but each child will be charged some four or five rials so that the teachers can benefit from this as well.”