Pintu, a 9-year-old son of a house-help does not have access to smartphones and could not continue his studies during the pandemic in the traditional way. He alongside his peers, however, is abreast with their curriculum thanks to their local aunty who teaches them at home-based tuitions.
As per UNICEF, 10 per cent of students had no access to a smartphone in or outside of their homes during the pandemic. Around 45 per cent of the children who did not use any remote learning opportunities were altogether unaware of any resource from which they could learn.
But in India, it’s home-based tuition that has come to the rescue and is trying to fill the learning gap, one tuition class at a time.
Parents, especially from low-income families, have turned to tuition centers to continue education during the pandemic. The proportion of children taking tuition has increased from 2018 to 2021, according to the ASER report. Almost 40 per cent of children in India take paid private tuition classes during the pandemic, the ASER survey claims.
The demand for tuition was higher for low-income families. Even as pandemic-led economic disruptions forced parents to make their children drop out of school or shift schools, they were still willing to pay for tuition, reveals government data.
Even as pandemic-led economic disruptions forced parents to make their children drop out of school or shift schools, they were still willing to pay for tuitions, reveals government data.
As per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2021 survey, first-generation learners or those whose parents had lower education qualifications, found it hard to keep up with online studies. Thus, leading to a rise in supplementary classes.
Now, when schools are opening up in in-person mode, many parents are still choosing to spend money on small-scale personal coaching to bridge the learning gap. Many claim the personal attention, safety, and flexibility in terms of payments that come with home-based tuition have made the tuition business thrive during the pandemic.
While those who could afford internet services turned to online teaching, those from low-income families looked for tuition with people in their neighborhood. “During the pandemic, people who lived off daily wages in our society had left their homes. Those who stayed could not afford to teach all their children online mode. Now, with most kids coming back from their villages, they have forgotten their basics and I have received a huge demand for tuition from those from low-income families. Kids feel shy in asking questions in school and at home, and their parents are not educated enough to train them. This has led to a rise in demand for tuition in our area,” informed 57-year-old home-based tuition teacher Sushil Khurana.
Parents Found Safety in Home-Based Tuitions
“Students stopped going outside during the pandemic. The only medium left was online. Few parents also looked forward to home tutors as it was safe and preferred someone whom they knew. The parents were ready to pay for the teachers even if they asked for a premium. The rise in demand was clearly due to safety concerns,” says Anand Prakash, Head of Academics & Co-founder, Vedantu, which provides online tuitions to students of classes 4 to 10.
Even now after the pandemic, there has been a rise in tuition. In online tuition, while the number of students may be less compared to last year, the numbers are still higher than pre-pandemic levels as students need support to keep up with their schools. This equilibrium is bound to move upwards in the coming years, Prakash added.
Need for Tuitions to Support Moving Back to School
Filo tutor, an online classes app that claims to help students with homework, doubts, and concepts say since May 2021, their learning minutes on the app have grown 8 times while the number of tutors has grown by 9 times.
“This clearly shows the massive demand for instant tutoring in the country given the deep learning gaps that students face today due to the pandemic. In many cases, we have seen students struggling with concepts that should have been cleared in their previous classes,” said Filo co-founder Imbesat Ahmad.
Ahmad adds, that “while Covid provided tailwinds with more students looking to bridge the learning gap, we have witnessed continuous growth on the back of the strength of the product and the experience students get on it. We teach 1 on 1 and LIVE. There is no ‘batch’ of students and our teaching is personalized.” Students learn as per their understanding speed, he adds.
“There is a stark change in the way students ask questions in say, June of 2021 and the way they ask now. Last year, during and after the second wave, students needed immediate spot resolution to their problems. It was a crisis resolution,’ says Varun Kumar, a mathematics scholar who had joined Filo in 2021.
Can learning loss be made up?
Tuition teachers can make up for the learning loss by giving adequate attention to the kids, ensuring their learning interest is not dipped down. They can arrange a good amount of concept learning camps or projects, believe experts.
“Since there was less hands-on experience online, students require a holistic understanding of how concepts can be correlated with one another. This can be achieved through conducting live projects and camps, such as understanding the basics of math in technology,” said Neelakantha Bhanu, the World’s Fastest Human Calculator and CEO of Bhanzu – a mathematics training platform.
As per a survey by UNICEF, 76 per cent of parents of children between the ages of 5-13 years, and 80 per cent of adolescents between 14-18 years, reported learning less due to the closure of schools.