2 months ago

Private tuitions post-pandemic

How are the students who earn by tutoring?

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Life in the metro was somewhat 'normal' until the COVID-19 pandemic happened. Besides the loss of lives, a lot of people were rendered jobless. In the huge classification of the lost jobs and closed income sources, a significant part was the loss of tuition by private student tutors. Has the situation changed post-pandemic?

Before the pandemic, Mahir Sakib (pseudonym), a fourth-year student at the University of Dhaka, used to bear his educational expenses with the remuneration he'd receive from providing private tuition. He could bear his educational costs and send money to his mother in Satkhira.

However, since April 2020, Mahir's income has decreased as the demand for private tutors fell with a prolonged closure of educational institutions. Guardians stopped hiring tutors, and many discontinued the contracts with their tutors to avoid risks of Covid-19 infection and handle their own shrinking financial condition.

Like Mahir, the pandemic made surviving in the capital more challenging for many student tutors. Now, after the pandemic is thankfully gone for over a year, the situation has improved for the tutors, although it's hardly the same.

Student private tutors in Bangladesh have faced myriad problems in their line of business for quite a long time now, and the pandemic only added salt to the pre-existing wounds. The number of tuition suddenly dropped, leaving countless tutors jobless or some lucky ones with online tuition.

Sohanur Rahman Sohan, an Aeronautical Engineering graduate from MIST, said, "Pre-pandemic, only offline classes were available where teachers would visit students' homes or vice versa. However, online classes have proven to be equally effective during the pandemic."

"Students now ask for teachers with proper online setups, allowing for class recordings, lecture materials, and easy revision. Post-pandemic, the middle class is struggling to continue due to the financial burden."

Sohan has been tutoring for five years now. He believes that although there were many difficulties during the pandemic, the situation is more stable now. The pandemic has indeed influenced the requirements for education, but its impact on availability has been relatively limited.

But when a bigger dimension is considered, the availability of traditional tutoring has digital competitors now. Many online platforms are gaining notable popularity among students. Ed-tech platforms such as Shikho and 10 Minute School have geared up their resource pool to attract more and more students to the online platforms.

As social media is a popular platform to seek tutors now, it is easier to post for a tutor based on the requirements and salary offered and expected. But many tutors fail to get the expected tuition or salary in the stereotypical 'reputed institute equals better tutor' prerequisite. They reluctantly adjust to what they are offered only to stay in the field.

Fahmida Nusaiba Sinha, a final year English major student at East West University, shares her experience, "Before the pandemic, fewer people were looking for tuition on the social media groups and pages, and it was easy to get tuition if the requirements were met. After the pandemic, the number has increased, and most of them are students from reputed universities. Now it's difficult to get tuition even if anyone fulfils every requirement."

Sinha also highlighted the decrease in the standard salary after the pandemic, "Following the pandemic, the salary is lower than before but the conditions are high. Also, tuition media pages and groups ask for more media fees than before."

Sinha is currently home tutoring five kids. She'd lost two tuitions during 2020, given the issues like lockdowns and health hazards. However, she had support from her remaining students and their guardians.

The requirements for tutors in Bangladesh generally depend on the educational background of both the students and teachers. The difference in the remuneration offered by Science, Business Studies, and Humanities background students varies according to the tutors' study discipline.

For example, the guardians or the students prefer students from Engineering, Medicine, or Pure Science disciplines for their Mathematics and science-focused subjects from after the Secondary level to the Higher Secondary level. The posts in the tutor-seeking social media groups show that public university students are preferred over private university students. But this works as a huge block for others seeking tuition, and thus most of the teachers from other universities, backgrounds, or disciplines have to adjust to a lesser salary.

Humaira Jim, an MS student of the Mathematics Department at the University of Dhaka, has been tutoring for 10 years now. She'd taken classes for ed-techs as well. Her experience in tutoring earned her a reputation that resulted in a handsome salary matching her skills. But she had to withstand the hardships during the pandemic. She lost all her tuition and had to go back to her hometown. Jim bounced back after the pandemic, and her remunerations are almost the same as before.

Jim also agrees that it is tough for students, except for some reputed universities, to manage good tuition with an adequate salary, as the rigidity of requirements does not melt that easily. She also added that there are many cases where guardians demand a lot of time in exchange for a low salary, which is hard for the tutor to maintain, as they are also students.

In contrast, some tutors feel there has been no significant change in the tuition situation post-pandemic. They describe it as a temporary blockade that was removed over time.

"During the pandemic, the overall tuition sector had taken a serious hit. I lost all my tuition, and some of my friends faced the same thing. But after the pandemic, it only took months for everything to go back to normal. I feel the availability and salary are also slightly higher than before," shared Kazi Ashikur Rahman Shuvo, a 3rd year CSE student at IUBAT.

Md. Yasir Arafat, a final-year student at the Islamic University of Technology, sheds light on some bright sides, "As students are now comfortable with online classes and they prefer to study from home, it has increased the availability of tuition. Flexible class hours and lecture plans are now possible and plausible."

Yasir considers tuition an extra source of income that he makes after he is done with his academic studies, but not as his primary income source. Many private tutors only tutor until their undergrads, and then they are invested in finding other jobs.

Md. Anuar Hossain, a student of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Dhaka, raised some significant points regarding this, "There has been a slight decrease in the number of available tuition post-pandemic. Students prefer coaching centres and ed-tech platforms to private home tutors. The requirements are also changing."

"The recent surge in the prices of the daily necessities and the worsening traffic of Dhaka roads have added to the basic lifestyle cost and made the bare minimum difficult. In my case, everything is quite okay except for the time that is wasted being stuck in traffic for hours. Salaries in comparison to the requirements are not provided in most cases. This has made it difficult for new tutors to compete with experienced tutors," he added.

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