This topic is worth the research, because private teaching is a worldwide activity, with both positive and negative impacts. It exists in developed countries such as Canada, South Korea, and Singapore, as well as in developing countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya and Vietnam (Bray, 2003). However, this research acknowledges that private teaching has its advantages, despite having some disadvantages.
For instance, students who are weak at school are able to get attention from tutors during these extra classes (Palatino, 2013). On the one hand, such students are able to improve their grades at school. On the other hand, these extra classes offered after the normal school hours usually discourage students from concentrating during their classes while at school (Palatino, 2013).
It is important to study this topic, in order to gain data and knowledge that would provide insight on whether private teaching should be encouraged or discouraged. Currently, governments in different countries handle private teaching differently. In Singapore, the government is not pleased with the increase in personalized classes (Palatino, 2013). However, no policy has been formulated for purposes of governing the existence of such classes in the country. In England, a program that offers one-to-one teaching services for students who are encountering challenges in subjects such as mathematics has been introduced in schools (Greenless, 2009). As a result, about 100,000 personnel were hired in order to improve the literacy levels for all students in the country.
Actually, governmental policy responses to private teaching can be classified into four categories (Bray, 2003). First, some governments just ignore the situation, because they feel that they cannot control the situation or because they are just unwilling to do anything about it. Second, there are governments that just prohibit the existence of such services. This policy is formulated from the basis that offering sustained private tutoring cannot be done successfully. Third, policies could be introduced to recognize as well as regulate how such teaching services are offered. However, these policies differ in terms of how regulation is carried out in different countries. Fourth, a few countries actively support the existence of personalized tutoring.
In order to study this topic of private teaching, questionnaires and interviews will be used. The questionnaires will be used in a secondary school where 50 respondents will be chosen randomly irrespective of gender. The questions asked will be both open ended and closed ones. In addition, there will be 8 general questions and 17 private ones, which will be 25 questions in each questionnaire. On the other hand, this research will also involve interviewing of five secondary school teachers. This way, there will be sufficient data for purposes of understanding the impacts of private teaching on educational process.
In the use of questionnaires, several challenges could be experienced. First, students may fail to readily answer questions on the written questionnaires (Milne, 1999). This problem arises when students feel that they will not benefit in any way after they answer the provided questions. In addition, some of them might fear being penalized, because of providing their opinions on a certain topic. In order to deal with this problem, it is important to explain to students the purposes of collecting information and the benefits of providing such information. Second, there is a probability of students providing superficial answers (Milne, 1999). This problem arises whenever a respondent feels that a questionnaire is too long. Therefore, a student who feels that 25 questions are too many or is in a hurry might provide superficial answers in order to just finish the task and move on. Third, open-ended questions could attract excessive amounts of data (Milne, 1999). Consequently, analyzing such data would require a lot of time during its processing and analysis. However, this problem will be minimized by providing limited spaces for answers. Fourth, when questionnaires are used, someone is not able to probe responses (Statpac, 2013). However, this challenge can be minimized by providing some space for comments below each question. Fifth, the greatest percentage of communication is usually visual, which cannot be achieved using questionnaires (Statpac, 2013). Therefore, it will be possible to get facts regarding private teaching from students, but it will not be possible to find out their attitudes towards the same.
Similarly, the use of interviews is prone to some challenges as well. First of all, interviewing five teachers will be time consuming (Evalued, 2006). Since only one teacher can be interviewed at a single instance. Therefore, there will be time consumed in setting the interviewing environment for each interviewee. In addition, there will be a need for transcription, analysis and provision of feedback. Secondly, interviews are expensive (Evalued, 2006). These costs are due to travel expenses. For instance, considering that these interviews will occur on different days depending on the interviewee’s availability, the interviewer will have to travel on all these days. Thirdly, data collected from these interviews could represent only the teachers’ bias towards private teaching (Evaluation toolkit, 2013).
This research aims at finding out several issues from both teachers and students. First, the research will find out the attitude of both parties towards private teaching. Second, this research will examine the advantages and disadvantages of attending private lessons, according to both teachers and students. Third, this research will find out the effects of private teaching irrespective of whether they are positive or negative.
With all this information, it will be able to conclude whether private teaching should be encouraged or discouraged.
Private tutoring has already been studied in the past by organizations and academics. An example of these studies include one carried out by Mark Bray on behalf of UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) and Hai-Anh Dang who carried out a case study of private teaching in Vietnam on behalf of the world bank.
From the past studies, private tutoring is an issue that exists in both developed and developing countries and it is in all parts of the world (Dang, 2006).
Reasons for Private Teaching
The first reason that is driving parents to take their children for personalized tutoring is to ensure that these students secure a place in a good university (Greenless, 2009). Tuition sessions usually enable students correct their weaknesses in handling exam questions, understand a course in greater depth, and the student is also encouraged and given moral support during private classes.
Unfortunately, private teaching is no longer for the weak students alone, as used to be the case in the past (Palatino, 2013). Currently, parents are willing to pay high costs for private teaching for their kids, because it enables their children to get better than they already are. As a result, a parent is able to be proud of his or her child for the good performance at school or for joining a great university.
Second, private teaching has become a necessity in the countries where education systems in public schools have failed and this happens in both developed and developing countries (Glewwe & Kremer, 2006). When parents realize that their children are not performing as good as they would expect, they end up choosing to get these children private lessons. The driving force in this scenario is the fact that in these countries, success in an exam determines a student’s future to getting further education, getting a good job and his or her advancement in life (Dore, 1976).
Third, corrupt education systems especially in third world countries contribute to the thriving of private teaching (Buchmann, 1999). In this case, corruption means that teachers make it a necessity for their students to attend extra classes after normal school hours. This way, such teachers are able to get some extra income, which supplements their poor salaries (Biswal, 1999). These teachers are also able to do all this since there are no proper monitoring mechanisms for education systems in such countries.
Fourth, cultural factors contribute to the development of private teaching in some countries such as Vietnam (Dang, 1999). In Vietnam, high school students prefer continuing with their education at tertiary levels to anything else. Therefore, they attend private classes in order to increase their chances of joining tertiary institutions and get a good image as perceived by the society.
Fifth, in countries where schools compete against each other, private tutoring is likely to occur in order for each school to gain a competitive edge (Bray, 2003). An example of this scenario is the situation that existed in the United Kingdom in the 1990s. During this time, schools were ranked and these rankings publicized whenever there were public exams. A similar scenario was also experienced in Australia.
Sixth, urban and rural locations of schools determine private teaching trends (Bray, 2003). For instance, a case study in Cambodia revealed that 60.6% of students in urban schools attended private lessons. However, only 9.1% of students in rural schools used such services. Similar results were observed in a case study of Malaysia (Chew & Leong, 1995). In Malaysia, 59% of urban schools students attended private lessons whereas only 28.5% of the ones in rural schools attended such lessons.
Seventh, salaries offered to mainstream teachers could determine whether they encourage or discourage private teaching (Bray, 2003). In countries where such teachers do not get salaries sufficient to sustain their livelihoods, these teachers end up finding ways of getting additional incomes. In most cases, these teachers usually end up offering private lessons for their students. In order to ensure that these students attend private lessons, these teachers make certain that they do not finish the syllabus during official working hours (Foondun, 2002). This scenario has been witnessed in countries such as Kenya and Bangladesh.
Impacts of Private Teaching
First, private teaching has evolved into a multi-million industry. In Singapore, a country that has one of the best education systems in the world, more than $600 million are spent in paying fees for private teaching (Palatino, 2013). Another example where such tuition is rampant is the case in Japan (Greenless, 1999). Here, students usually attend these lessons in order to gain a competitive edge on their classmates and outperform them in exams. The scenario is the same in many other countries.
As a result, the education system in these countries stands the risk of losing its value. Students who have access to private lessons after school are likely to pay little attention while at school (Palatino, 2013). This happens because such students know that they will always make up for such time. With the growth of the private teaching as an industry, teachers are likely to resign from their regular jobs in order to seek better paying opportunities in offering private lessons (Palatino, 2013).
Secondly, when students are provided with such personalized guidance in academics they will end up being dependent on other people for their success (Palatino, 2013). Therefore, even after such students join the best universities, they encounter challenges in successfully pursuing their courses. This occurs because at such levels, they might not have access to personalized tutoring.
Private teaching can have either positive or negative impacts on social inequalities (Bray, 2003). Negative social inequalities are witnessed in the situations where only the rich people are able to afford private lessons for their children. This widens differences in social classes. On the other hand, positive effects regarding social inequalities could be witnessed when parents who are either poor or in the middle class pay for their children’s private classes. This latter case can be seen from a case study in Singapore where families whose parents did not speak English paid for private English tutoring lessons for their children. As a result, differences between social classes are reduced through such efforts.
Fourth, private tutors can act as inhibitors to education system reforms in a country. This happens if these teachers feel that such reforms will eliminate the demand for their services. For example, individuals who offered private lessons in Romania opposed efforts to reduce dependency of the country’s education system on examinations (Popa, 2003). In another study, similar resistance was experienced in Egypt (Fawzey, 1994).
Fifth, taking part in private teaching is tiring especially for students (Bray, 2003). Since these students attend their normal classes during the day and then private ones in the evenings. A study of this scenario in Sri Lanka showed that students were so fatigued that they actually relaxed during their school hours (Da Silva, 1994). As a result, these students had very low productivity while attending their school classes.
Sixth, private teaching can provide positive impacts on both strong and weak students at school. These services help strong students to understand mainstream classes in a better way (Yiu, 1996). For instance, in Hong Kong students were taught using English at school (Lee & Yoon, 2004). However, when these courses were repeated using Chinese, students understood the content better than when they were only taught at school alone. On the other hand, weak students can be offered assistance outside the mainstream classes and help them understand different courses. This happens because such remedial teaching is usually tailored to the individual needs of such students (Da Silva, 1994).
In order to collect data for this research, a written questionnaire will be used to get responses from 50 students and there will be interview sessions with 5 teachers. The questionnaire will have 25 questions: 8 of them will be general while the others will be private. Among these 25 questions, some will be open-ended and others closed.
Collecting data using the questionnaire will take about three days. Since getting students who are willing to fill a questionnaire might be a challenge. Interviewing five teachers could take as much as two weeks. In fact, the teachers might have busy schedules. Therefore, it might not be possible to finish an interview with such an interviewee in a single day. In addition, the teachers might not be available in the consecutive days of a week.
Once this data is collected in two weeks and three days, it will take another two weeks to read and analyze this data. This will involve reading the questionnaires, transcribing interviews, determining trends in the feedback from interviewees, drawing graphical representations of the data and coming up with conclusions from the data.
Therefore, the process of data collection and analysis will take approximately one month.