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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Private tuition for as much as Dh400 an hour in Dubai

Despite rising school fees in Dubai, parents are still digging deep and forking out extra money for private tuition here - some as much as Dh400 an hour.

In August this year, 142 schools in Dubai qualified to raise their annual school fees from 3.21 per cent to as high as 6.42 per cent as per the Knowledge and Human Development Authority's (KHDA) fee framework.

Although not all 142 took advantage of the fee hike, some did, which left parents sweating.

But it hasn't affected spending sentiments when it comes to private tuition.

"There has been a marked rise in the use of private tutors in the UAE. We have seen significant growth of tuition centres and private tutors over the past year," Dev Chopra, CEO of Talenttutors.com, told Khaleej Times.

Chopra said there tends to be a "spike in demand for tutoring" at the start of school terms and around exam times. But he reiterated this is not a negative reflection on the education system here. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

"We feel that this does not necessarily reflect on the quality of formal education but rather the increasingly competitive environment that students find themselves in."

And Tristan Francis of A Team Tutors agreed.

"Tuition is on the rise with students actively seeking a private tutor to ensure they perform to their true potential."

But with this rise, are we seeing any particular trend in demographics?

Although both Francis and Chopra agreed the clientele are "extremely mixed", of Chopra's 169 student clients, 81 are girls (47 per cent) and 88 are males.

Both agreed that the highest demand subjects are Mathematics and Sciences as these are "compulsory for most students".

However, they are seeing a peak in tertiary education students, especially as the curriculum intensifies.

"Higher education is becoming more and more competitive so everyone is trying to perform better than the previous years," Francis said.

So what exactly are parents paying for the privilege?

At A Team Tutors, tuition fees can range anywhere between Dh225 and Dh300 per hour depending on the difficulty, rarity and level of the subject required.

Currently they have about 60 students on their books, with the average client participating in one to two hours of tuition a week.

"The busiest periods are Christmas due to mock exams, and Easter with summer finals," Francis said.

At Talent Tutors, the price range is slightly more diversified.

Of the 547 tutors on their website, costs range from Dh30 per hour to Dh400.

Although it is possible for students to perform on their own, guidance from a tutor no doubt helps in reducing gaps in knowledge and lowering the stress that students are put under.

Private tutoring has no relation to any strength or weaknesses in the education sector, but there is no doubt that pockets are continuing to burn here, all for the sake of a better education.

How much does a tutor cost (on average):

If the average student takes on one hour of extra tuition a week, Khaleej Times worked out just how much parents are willing to pay for their child's private tuition.

(Figures are based on the average hourly rates mentioned by Talent Tutors and A Team Tutors)

Hourly rate = Dh215 (average of Dh30-Dh400)

Average number of school weeks in an academic year = 39

Total: Dh215 x 39 = Dh8,385 annually

Looking for a tutor?

1. Ask about tutor's prior experience/qualifications: Ask for references and get a feel for whether this is the right tutor for you

2. Check how many students would be in the group: You may be opting for a private tutor because you struggle in the classroom setting. This will help you find out how close-knit the interaction will be

3. Are all students in the group for the same subject? - If you're studying in a group, it is often more beneficial to be studying the same subject

4. Find out how long the tutor will be around: Opt for long-term engagement as this helps instill more confidence in the tutor-student relations

5. If online:

a. Speak to your child not to reveal private information

b. Check the site's security settings (opt for HTTPS for secure browsing)

c. Websites with a fair refund policy are preferred

What are your views on private tutoring?

Dhanvi Sayani

Gems Our Own English High School

Dubai

"I don't go for any private tutoring. This is because our school gives us pie worksheets for practice and clears all our doubts at school itself. Our teachers make learning interesting so our concepts gets cleared. Having such good schools we do not need any tutoring at all."

Akhil Rahman Ashraf

Abu Dhabi Indian School

Abu Dhabi

"It has been difficult for me to cope up with what was being taught in class. Hence, I needed a tutor to assist me in the subjects which I find weak. Believe me, it is really helpful! Now, I find it easier to understand what is being taught in class. Private tutors give personal attention to us and thus boosts our confidence. For those who want to excel in some particular subject, private tutoring is the best option."

Shivani Manoharlal

Indian High School

Dubai

"I guess private tutoring is good and effective. It depends on the student though. If they cannot understand what the teacher is teaching them in class, he/she might be more comfortable with a private tutor. Then as a result he/she might understand the concept better and score well in tests. Me personally, I have never had a private tutor."

Suleiman Altaf

Ibn Seena English High School

Sharjah

"No, I don't have a private tutor. It is no use of going to a private tutor when you go to school. The main point is to pay attention and concentrate when the teachers are explaining but most students don't and so they have to hire a private tutor."

Parents: Why they are paying out?

Over the past five years, the education sector here has come on leaps and bounds.

As the UAE moves away from oil revenues, its focus now is on education, healthcare and tourism. With education at the forefront of this revenue drive, it is in turn encouraging increase in private tuition trends.

For father Sundaragopal Sundaresh, there is no shame in hiring a tutor for his son.

"Till today we have not used private tutor. However, we feel it will be necessary to have private tutor to cope up with the increase in pressure to score more marks by additional coaching."

But when it comes to costs, he said it is something they will tackle at the time. "Pricing will come into play nearer the time, but we will still go ahead with it, no matter what."

For Bernadette Finn, a Math tutor was a welcome relief for her child a few years ago.

"My daughter was about 11 at the time and although she wasn't struggling in the subject, the tutor really built her confidence. We paid around Dh150 an hour, but that was a few years ago, and she took lessons once a week."

And student, Sharafa Zahir Hassan of Murdoch University Dubai, has also had first-hand experience of private tuition.

"Private tutoring helps students understand better as they are personally given attention by the tutor. Yes, I have taken private tuitions in the past in Math and Science. I paid around Dh400 per month only."

So it seems although money plays a small part in private tuition decision-making, building the foundations for a better education the driving force, and most importantly, priceless.

(Source: Khaleej Times)

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