Private tutors: Big money in private tutoring

Unlike in the past, when private tutors were engaged to help laggard learners, today even high-calibre students sign up for private tuition to score the 85-95 percent cut-off averages demanded by best colleges.

With Indias education system becoming increasingly competitive and examination-oriented, even as the quality of teaching in schools and colleges deteriorates, the demand for private tuition and tutors is becoming more insistent. Little wonder private tutoring has become a highly remunerative vocation in India, recording growth rates of 40-45 percent during the past five years, according to a recent study conducted by Assocham. Therefore if you are academically bright, did well in school, college and university, enjoy interacting with young people, and have the discipline and passion to teach, a career as a private tutor could be right for you, either full-time or part-time.

A majority of Indias 40 million middle class households are ready, willing and able to spend up to one-third of their monthly income on private tuitions for their children, in the hope that it will bolster their final school board examination results and enable them to enter the small minority of best arts, science, commerce, and professional education colleges. Currently, an estimated 3 million children in Indias five metros have signed up with private tutors, particularly those giving coaching in maths, chemistry and physics, whose average monthly incomes are as good as of senior business managers. Demanding — and getting — between Rs.300-800 per hour per student on a one-to-one basis, and Rs.500-1,500 per capita for group tuition, private tutors across the country are raking in big money.

Unlike in the past, when private tutors were engaged to help laggard learners, today even high-calibre students sign up for private tuition to score the 85-95 percent cut-off averages demanded by best colleges. Regretable but true: the great majority of school leavers spend their early mornings, evenings, and vacations following punishing private tuition schedules in the hope of admission into Indias too few best colleges.

Over 3,000-4,000 private tutors are active in Mumbai currently, and with competition for admission into the near-static number of best colleges intensifying, the demand for private tuition is rising continuously. Consequently many of the best teachers of reputed schools have left their jobs and become private tutors, for the simple reason that the monthly income of good tutors is equal to the annual salaries of school teachers,” says Prakash Tiwari, a qualified engineer who quit a blue-chip corporate job in 2001 to set up shop as a private tutor.

A high-rank electrical engineering graduate of Mumbais highly-rated Sardar Patel College of Engineering, Tiwari was snapped up by Crompton Greaves as a service engineer immediately after graduation in 1982. A decade later, during which he had risen to the position of senior service manager, he started giving maths tuition to senior school students. Convinced that teaching was his calling, he plunged full-time into private tutoring.

Private tutoring is no mean career option. We are a genre of over-reachers on the job 24/7, 365 days a year, pushing ourselves to help our students average 90 percent and above, required by top colleges these days,” says Tiwari, who tutors over 300 classes VII-X students of CISCE-affiliated schools in Mumbai.

Accustomed to working from 6-8 a.m and between 2:30 and 10:30 p.m everyday, and from 8 a.m to 8 p.m on weekends, Tiwari shuttles between his main (owned) tuition premises in Prabhadevi to leased tutoring centres in Sion and Tardeo in a gleaming Honda City motorcar. According to him, beginner tutors should start with home tuitions for individuals, then tutor groups in a students home and, once established, rent or purchase their own premises. On average beginners can earn over Rs.40,000-50,000 per month. After two-three years, they could earn over Rs.1 lakh monthly. But success in this profession requires mastery over the subject you teach, good communication skills, passion, discipline, regularity, dedication, and punctuality,” he says.

Acknowledging the growing staffing problem of school managements, Tiwari, who has coached many of the toppers of Mumbais most well-known schools including Villa Theresa, St. Marys, and Queen Marys, believes that the best recourse is to sign up private tutors to conduct classes in individual schools, for the convenience of their students, so they wont have to run all over town” for tuition. K.C. College has made a beginning by tying up with Pace Coaching to provide intensive tutoring on their premises to IIT aspirants. It would be a step in the right direction if other school managements follow suit. Principals and managements have to change their mindsets,” he says.

Tiwari also has valuable advice for aspiring tutors. They should specialise, particularly if they are tutoring high school students. I constantly update my knowledge with new study material and pedagogies. This profession is still in its adolescent stage but will continue to flourish. Above all it offers great satisfaction when your coaching produces good outcomes,” he says.

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