Mixed feelings on banning of private tuitions

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Government’s decision to ban private tuitions has raised mixed feelings among some people who are calling on the relevant authorities to rescind the decision claiming that the situation will negatively influence examination results.
Stakeholders are actually happy and commended Government for the decision, saying it was good to ban the exercise because some teachers abused it.
Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Minister, John Phiri, announced the ban on paid-for tuitions in all the schools, saying no school shall be permitted to conduct tuitions during holidays or on weekends unless such tuitions will be paid for by the school and will involve all the schools.
He, however, permitted internally arranged tuitions which attract no cost at all to the pupils so that they are encouraged to catch up on work.
Dr Phiri observed that paid-for public tuitions in schools disadvantaged pupils from poor families.
The minister also warned that no school; government, private or missionary, will host learners from other schools to provide extra tuitions, unless that particular school organises its own pupils using the school money.
Dr Phiri also announced that with immediate effect, all classteachers, from Grades Eight to 12, shall avail subject syllabi to all the pupils at the beginning of each term.
The whole essence of providing private tutitions was simply because most pupils were not able to complete the syllabus so extra time had to be found to catch up on this aspect though it attracted a cost.
In support of Government, Basic Education Teachers’ Union of Zambia (BETUZ) president Jeffrey Simuntala said private tuitions in public institutions had disadvantaged pupils from poor families.
Mr Simuntala welcomed the decision to ban private tuitions because many children, particularly those who are not privileged to have resources at their disposal are normally disadvantaged, meaning, if the private tuitions should go ahead, then there would be a likelihood that they are conducted in classes for all pupils to participate. Therefore, it will make tuitions become all-inclusive as opposed to being selective.
He said school authorities should pay for these tuitions in order to motivate the teachers who are conducting tuitions.
Mr Simuntala urged the Government to continue improving teachers’ conditions of service as a way of motivating them.
Youth Vision Zambia has welcomed the ban by Government for tuitions to be conducted in public schools because this will make teachers pay extra attention to all pupils, while in class, regardless of the social status.
Youth Vision Zambia executive director Amos Mwale says the move will benefit the pupils from poor family households, including pupils who cannot afford to pay tuition fees.
Mr Mwale has since called on the Ministry of Education to closely monitor all schools and ensure that they adhere to the rules and punish those found disobeying the directive with impunity.
But Chola Mukanga, an economist, said Government’s rationale for the ban that paid for public tuitions in schools will disadvantage pupils from poor families is not correct.
Mr Mukanga said the ban does not really address inequality in access to extra tuition because people who can afford it will still get tuition at their convenience.
“It is the case that not all students that attend the holiday tuitions are from government schools. So it’s a wrong decision on efficiency and equality grounds,” Mr Mukanga said
Mr Mukanga said Dr Phiri should have justified his policy position in terms of the Patriotic Front’s (PF’s) underlying ideology, which is, education being a right for all and, therefore, should always be free.
“There’s nothing wrong with that belief. It has obvious weaknesses but it is a reasonable belief that can be defended. But for Dr Phiri to argue his point based on ‘inequality’ is inept,” Mr Mukanga said.
Mr Mukanga, however, noted that there’s the serious problem of allowing teachers to offer tuition lessons to slow learners which may have the perverse incentive of encouraging teachers to offer poor quality teaching in order to maximise on their out of normal hours income.
He said it is unfortunate that few teachers are exploiting the system whose solution does not depend on banning tuition but required effective monitoring and enforcement of expected teaching standards.
On the other hand, Mr Frank Fwamba, a parent in Lusaka, said the whole truth is that as much as the public could have their option for or against the ban, it is worthwhile to realise the importance of the exercise in the country.
Mr Fwamba said the private tuition emanates from the meagre salaries as take-home pay for the teachers.
“Teachers are among the lowly-paid workers in the sub region whose take-home or net pay is nothing to write home about in terms of self-sustainability if we are to promote quality education in this country,” Mr Fwamba said.
He said Government needed to realise that one of the major reasons for conducting tuition was to ensure that pupils catch up in completing the three terms syllabus of the different subjects for both examination and non-examination classes.
Mr Fwamba said there is need to commend and encourage such schools which have been helpful to the children by offering them private tuitions.
“We would like to bring to the attention of the minister and his hierarchy to rescind this decision as it has a direct impact on the learners who do not even finish the syllabi on schedule every year,” Mr Fwamba said.
So this ban, Mr Fwamba said would encouraged more examination malpractices and negatively impact on the Government.
And a random check by the Times in some Lusaka schools revealed that the exercise has continued despite the ban.
Some individual teachers talked to on condition of anonymity said they were against the ban.
While admitting that the exercise was grossly abused, one of the teachers said Government should strengthen the inspectorate department unlike banning the whole exercise because it had mutual benefits to both pupils and teachers alike.
“I am not in support of the ban, the Government should monitor and regulate these tuitions because banning the exercise will affect teachers as well as slow learners,” one of the teachers said.
It is, therefore, by promoting such healthy debates on the topic that can help improve the education standards in the country.

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