Parents question strenuous student schedules
July 6, 2012
HURFOM: The parents of middle and high school students in Mudon Township, Mon State, have expressed concern about the lack of downtime in their children’s schedules caused by obligations to attend “tuition” and “extra time”after school. “Tuition” is a common practice in which schoolteachers or peoplefrom outside the school system charge a fee to teach the same lessons taught during class-time after school. The hope is that students will gain from the added instruction, but students’ parents describe how the same teachers who provide minimal instruction during school offer more detailed information in tuition, creating a situation in which parents and students worry that without attending tuition, grades and exams will suffer.
One resident of Naing Hlon village, Mudon Township explained, “After the students arrive home from school, they have to godirectly to tuition. Even though the students have no time to relax, it seems to have become a custom in the village. All students, including those in primary school, go to tuition. The parents think their children will pass their exams if they attend the tuition, which iswhy they allow them to go. In my village, the students in grades 8, 9 and 10 have to pay 60,000 Kyat per month in tuition fees. They tuition teachers are called “guides” and teach every subject in the village.”
This year, government teachers in Duya village, Ye township, were prohibited from teachingtuition. The government increased their salariesby 90,000 Kyat per month,and asserted that this monetary boostshould prevent the need to seek additional income. However,villagers who graduated from government schoolsbut are not employed as teachers areallowed to teach tuition by obtaining a license or contract from the government.
According to an “extra time” teacher in Duya village, government teachers still try to offer tuition because they feel the salary increase did not entirely replace their dependence on supplemental pay. Therefore, the custom of teaching “extra time” has developed. In practice, extra time provides the identical service as tuition, giving students critical support that was not given to them in school. According to parents, and similarly to tuition, many schoolteachers who teach “extra time” only lecture on the basics during the day, and demand a fee for the added support after regular school hours. Government teachers negotiate with school assistantsto be given extra teaching time for which there is a monthly fee of 1,000 Kyat forprimary school students, 1,500 Kyat for middle school, and 2,000 Kyat for high school students, in spite of assurances that teachers will offer instruction for free.
According to a non-government schoolteacher from Duya village, “I feel sad for the students because they have no time to rest and they are always in a hurry. When they come back from school, it is already 4:30 pm, and they do not have time for personal studies when they could try to understand the different teaching methods they are exposed to every day. In school there are many students, and since teachers cannot give one-on-one instruction, they feel they have to attend tuition after school in order to get more assistance.”
The students are often exhausted by the challenging schedules because, after 4:30 pm when school lets out, they rush to attend tuition and extra teaching time.
A student’s mother from Three Pagodas Pass, a border town where students experiencesimilar issues to those in Mon State, said,“I pity my son, he has no time for a break. After he finishes his class time, his teacher teaches tuition in the school. I have to pay 200 Thai Baht per month for my son’s tuition fee. I don’t understand how their teacher can teach so differently in their class and their tuition. Every student from the school goes to tuition,and that is why I also allow my son to go there—to get good grades on his exam.”