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Secondary Education for a minimum of five years leading to the Cambridge School Certificate or the General Certificate of Education - Ordinary Level. A minimum of two more years is thereafter required for the Cambridge Higher School Certificate (HSC) or the General Certificate of Education - Advanced Level.
Post-Secondary / Tertiary Education.
Success at the CPE examinations is a sine qua non condition for securing access to Secondary schooling in the mainstream.
1.2 Definition of private tuition
Private tuition means education or instruction, that students received in a small group or individually by a teacher, that is arranged and paid for by an individual rather than by the state.
The statement that "private tuition is an evil that helps equalise life chances of people." is a debatable issue in the Mauritian context.
Part 2: Private tuition equalises life chances of people
In this mad race of competition prevailing, private tuition is or seem to be a must in Mauritius. In fact, our educational system is made in such a way that it favours the elite. The elites are rewarded by a laureate system that put emphasis on the results obtained by simple intelligence tests. We ask ourselves if this is really the meaning of education! The 'classés' are rewarded by scholarships; the best C.P.E candidates are rewarded by reserved seats in National colleges, created to lure the best students. No wonder that from such a system parents are forced to find the best for their children since our eyes are always focused on the top rather than the bottom.
Sometimes children may have missed key points or slow learners have simply not grasped anything in the syllabus at school that are now restraining them from understanding the more advanced concepts. Hence, private tuition comes at their rescue by re-explaining the topics learnt, reiterating key points, solving problems that students face, identifying areas that need work and bring the child up to speed. This is especially important if children have been ill and missed a few lessons. Private tuition is in fact a way for slow learners to catch up in their studies since they cannot keep the same pace of the teacher and other students at school. Thus a private tutor is necessary to work at those children's pace and become very familiar with their capacity for learning and choosing the methods that work best with them when explaining sometimes advanced concepts to them. Subsequently, private tuition equalises life chances of slow learners to succeed.
2.2 Confidence and self esteem
Choosing a tutor that has a style or personality that suits a child, increased student's confidence and self esteem. In fact, private lessons with the 'chosen' tutor give students the additional confidence to ask questions when they do not fully understand a particular topic. Many students may felt very self-conscious of peer pressure while in the classroom setting; thus unwilling to clarify their doubts. This problem is avoided with individual private lessons. Even shy children can ask questions. A lot of children may be too shy, hesitant or afraid to ask questions in class and may then miss out on key points and clarifications in their subjects. As a matter of fact we can see that private tuition provide a cure for this as well.
2.3 Personal attention
Many students flourish under one-to-one tuition. With private tuition, the student does not have to compete for the teacher's attention. Unlike in the traditional classroom setting, the student must often wait while the teacher addresses the needs of the other members of the class. However, with private lessons, the lesson can progress as quickly or as slowly as you desire. A private tutor is able to focus on specific areas that the child may be having problems with. A school teacher on the other hand, will only be able to give limited private attention to students as they are constrained by time and tough targets for subject coverage. Also if children are struggling with homework the tutor can help! Consequently, personal attention is needed for children to have better marks.
2.4 Healthier environment
In a classroom setting, noise and other interruptions from peer groups can hugely affect a child's performance. Being in such a competitive world, friends may tempt others not to follow classes or to bump classes for other distractions such as smoking, or using mobile phones, hence this prevent the child to be in the mood of studying. Going to school is like a waste of time then. On the contrary, the private one-on-one tutoring is a much more controllable environment, and therefore far less susceptible to interference and distractions. Thus, private tuition provides a much better environment. With its projector, laptop to mention a few, lessons become more lively and this without doubt boost up the motivation of students and make them more enthusiastic to learn. Hence, a better environment is equal to better life chances to achieve better results.
2.5 Better results
Private lessons are simply the most effective method for students to improve their subject knowledge and greatly increase their test and examination scores. In other words private tuition is a way for students to achieve higher grades and be more successful. An excellent private tutor will customize the entire lesson plan around each student's individual needs. This helps the student to progress much more quickly than in the group environment since the tutor can easily adapt the lesson and concentrate upon the individual's strengths or weaknesses in the subject. Private tutors motivate the students to study hard by assigning to them homework to gain practices. In line with this, revision works are done so that the students remember everything they learned; hence better results are awaiting them at the end of the day. Better results are what all parents want in this mad race of competition prevailing in our Mauritian education system.
Part 3: Private tuition is an evil
Despite the arguments discussed earlier at Part 2 in the previous section which favour private tuition in contemporary Mauritian education, there are many reasons to believe that it might be simply an evil that helps equalise life chances of people. These reasons are discussed in the following subsections.
3.1 Financial burden to poor children
Private tuition is so impregnated in the Mauritian psyche that one tends to deny the very existence of the poor people who cannot even afford to pay tuition fees for their children. This is utter injustice towards those low class students; social inequalities between the rich and the poor. It is a known fact that private tuition imposes a considerable financial burden on parents and often gives rise to abuses. But what about the poor students? They will be lagging behind their friends that take private tuition and hence it is not surprising to see the rate of failures is mostly from low class students at school. Thus private tuition is an evil since it is to the prejudiced of poor families.
3.2 Teacher-centred instead of child-centred
The craze for Private tuition is still at its peak in our society. It is like a market business. Rather a money-like-transaction-business. One of the major roles of Mauritian private tutors is to count the number of pupils they have. No wonder to know in advance their revenue. There are teachers, who, come the end of the month, will subtly remind the students that they have to cough up the tuition fees. Unsurprisingly, their advertisements for tuition are also in the local newspapers; to gain more pupils undoubtedly. We were talking of getting individual attention in private tuition but what about those tuitions that are bombarded by students? This is a reality in Mauritius that we have to acknowledge. Almost all private tuitions are full. So, we can notice there is no difference between school classes and private tuition classes since they are both overcrowded. Hence, private tuition is an evil since it suits best the teacher's interest rather than that of the pupils.
3.3 No time for creativity and relaxation
Private tuition seems to be an epidemic in our country, a disease affecting teachers and parents. However, private tuition kills creativity. Here in Mauritius, private tuition is killing the poets, the writers, the dancers, the sportsmen, all the geniuses that exist. We are slave to a system that prone more inequalities, competitiveness and selfishness. We are becoming followers and not leaders. Private tuition gives no free time to students. And creativity emerges in what condition? In idleness, in silence, in stillness, in free time. When will children start breathing, praying, singing, dancing, living? Far from helping students, private tuitions are killing true intelligent. It acts as a crutch whereby passivity, dullness, dependency, spoon-feeding are being nourished by the students, innocent victims of the elitism system.
3.4 Private tuition encourages deviant acts, romances
Private tuition is robbing the youth, the life of our students if we take into consideration the alarming situation of our youth men. Flirts, romances all crop up with the craze of going to private tuition with the latest brand of clothes, shoes! It is as if private tuition is leading society into a pressure -cooker manner whereby the youngsters have been suppressed. Hence, the ultimate outcome is social explosion and we must not be shocked of the skyrocketed number of deviant acts among youth. You reap what you sow!
Part 4: Conclusion
In the Mauritian education system, private tuitions have become the norm; they have existed for decades and will always exist because we have a system of education which is coupled with competition. "Qui dit compétition, dit labeur." Parents, do you think an 8 year old can spend 8 am to 3 pm learning at school and learn again from 3.30 to 5.30 pm? Research says no. Research says that more time does not mean more learning. There is a limit to what the brain can assimilate and for their development and well being, children need to play and have time for extracurricular activities, family time and other things.
We can see that education nowadays has become a mere stepping stone towards a better material life. However, we should not blame teachers for that. There is a society at large that has contributed in making teaching and education the way it is today. Thus, to my point of view this system and curriculum of education must be firmly revisited. After all, it is solely because of our competitive education system that private tuition exists.
The aim of education is to live a healthy life, a supreme life. Life should be the end of any system. Schooling, studying is only the means. Il faut manger pour vivre et non pas vivre pour manger. Il faut travailler pour vivre et non pas vivre pour travailler. Il faut étudier pour vivre et non pas vivre pour étudier.
Part 5: Bibliography