Young men, may be aged between 18 to 24, putting posters 'Tuition Wanted'- this is a common sight in Dhaka's busy areas. Although Dhaka has thousands of coaching centres to cater to increasing demand, the appeal for a home tutor has always been on the rise.
"I didn't have any alternative or feasible option for earnings apart from tuition," said Rezaul Haque, a student of Jagannath University. "I need to perform at least six to seven tuitions in a month so that I can afford my expenses including rent and food." Many would wonder why Rezaul does not simply put his time and effort into freelancing i.e writing, designing, web development, etc. Well, not everybody can afford the devices and luxury of training to choose that path. Tuition is the most available means of earning without an investment which students, especially those coming from insolvent families, take.
Well, that is not all about Rezaul. After managing his own, he contributes the rest for his family. As his father is a retired man struggling to make things going with pension and savings, he tries his best to shoulder some responsibilities. But the scenario gets worse when he loses tuition and cannot manage another instantly. This Covid situation also made it stiffer to find a suitable tutoring job.
Faruq Ahmed, a third-year student of International Relations at Jahangirnagar University, shared his story of getting tuitions while he first came to the city. "Coming from a marginal rural area, I didn't have any network in the new city. So getting tuition was laborious," said Faruq. On a more serious note, he warned not to step into the trap of any fake tuition media that promises tuition with a high salary.
The pandemic has added a different dimension to the struggles of tuition-needy students. Many guardians do not want to hire home tutors, while a lot of students left Dhaka due to the on-campus suspension of academic functions. Such is the story of Rafiqul Islam, a final year student of Social Science at Dhaka University. He has reasons to believe that even when the pandemic is over, people might not invite a home tutor to the home as much as before.
"People are also struggling financially. Of course, they will want to save some money from the tuition payment and find a cheaper alternative. Also, the average honorarium of a home tutor might go down further."
Faruq, however, kept tutoring during this testing time in the rural areas, but the yield was much lower compared to his city days. Added with that, there are some issues that might follow a home tutor, as Faruq said, "If the guardian is not enlightened and conscious enough, it becomes quite challenging to make them realise their child's actual position. Whenever the student performs poorly in the examination, the tutor's head goes under the guillotine."
Again, when the exam arrives, tutors have to remain on their toes to meet any urgent needs of their students. From helping with notes and suggestions to teaching extra time, home tutors do everything. They even have to miss out on their regular works like family activities, academics, etc. to give the student more time before the exam, added Faruq.
However, there are some brighter sides to it. Even freshers can take tuition to earn some valuable pocket money which is otherwise very tough regarding other jobs. Also, when someone is preparing for job exams after the completion of graduation, tuition becomes a source of income for them during that period.
"It helps to accomplish the syllabus of competitive examination for jobs because most of those syllabuses comprise the secondary level curriculum,'' said Md Sabid Ibn Rabbani, a third-year student of IML, Jagannath University. Well, while covering the job exam syllabus simultaneously, Sabid also likes to teach inherently and that is the reason why he has chosen it as a pastime. For those who aspire to become faculty or teacher in schools/colleges, tuition plays a role in cementing their foundation.
"Whenever I am planning for a tour or buying a new device, those earnings help me a lot," Sabid added, regarding tuition's monetary benefits. "Keeping earning aside, it's a good way to become self-independent at an early age. It also nourishes skills like communication, presentation, teaching, which may bring better outcomes in the future."
There is a saying, "Knowledge increases by sharing, not by saving." Tuition provides a great opportunity to share knowledge and enlighten the self. Keeping the visible benefits aside, the home tutors need to have sympathised with their hardship and the parents hiring them should not lessen the honorarium if it is not a burden for them.
Shafin Saif is studying International Relations at Jahangirnagar University.