Is private tuition fostering or harming children? | Daily News


Tuition industry - Part 1

Is private tuition fostering or harming children?

This is the first article on this subject. The other aspects and viewpoints will be published in Part 2.

Private tuition classes in Kurunegala have become a norm for the modern student population. Parents as well as students are of the view that private tuition is a must to get through the examinations conducted by the Department of Examinations.

It is a fact that a sound education is essential to succeed in life. Therefore, parents do everything possible to give their children a sound education. They willingly allocate a big slice of their salaries or income to equip their children with additional knowledge from private tuition classes to pass public examinations with high marks. This trend and the mindset of parents has created a number of unwholesome social issues in the Kurunegala district.

The latest informal survey conducted by the North Western Provincial Council in the Kurunegala administrative district has revealed that there are more than 8,200 large-scale and small-scale institutions offering private tuition at present and nearly 175,000 school students attend these classes regularly in the weekends.

It is also a matter of concern that senior students of certain leading schools in the Kurunegala district have become addicted to harmful drugs and a large number have been nabbed by police officers, either with drugs in their possession or while trying to buy drugs. Kurunegala District former DIG Kithsiri Jayalath told the Daily News some time ago that a number of teenage couples were arrested during the past two years in the parks and around the Kurunegala Lake area; these students were found to be playing truant from the weekend private tuition classes. Consequently, these misguided students waste the hard-earned money of their parents.

The Chairman of the Wayamba Human Resources Development Authority told the Daily News when he was contacted in Kurunegala to learn more facts on private tuition classes in both Kurunegala andPuttalam districts of the NWP, that the Authority has decided to investigate whether institutions offering private tuition meet minimum standards with teachers who hold the necessary qualifications for the subjects they teach.

The Chairman added that he has been vested with powers by the law to investigate such issues as these factors directly affect the future generation of the NWP. As tuition classes are conducted on Sunday mornings, the attendance at Sunday Dhamma schools in both the Kurunegala and Puttalam districts is reported to have been badly affected. Students prefer to attend tuition on Sundays and they are reluctant to attend Dhamma school. Parents too encourage their children to attend the tuition classes as almost all public examinations held by Department of Examinations are competitive. A former NWP Chief Minister pioneered in pushing for private tuition classes to not be held on Sundays from 6.00 am to 1.00 pm to facilitate students to attend Dhamma school. However, many private tuition teachers violate this regulation and continue teaching as usual on Sunday and Poya days.

Strict legal measures would be introduced shortly to ban private tuition on Sundays and field officers have been deployed to regulate the tuition classes in the North Western Province.

Meanwhile, 45 chief incumbents of Buddhist temples in the Kurunegala district have handed over a memorandum to a Kurunegala district UNP Parliamentarian requesting to explore the possibility of prohibiting the conducting of private tuition classes on Sunday and Full Moon Poya Day mornings. “Due to the lack of moral values in modern students who attend private tuition classes, the rate of crime and incidents of ragging in state universities has increased. This has to be addressed by the relevant government authorities,” said a visiting English lecturer attached to the Open University, Kandy Regional Centre, and a resident of the Kurunegala district. “As a result of unlimited freedom that senior students enjoy at private tuition classes, the discipline among the majority of school students has decreased. Further, the competition for the best results at public examinations too has led to unfavourable sentiments among students, such as selfishness and jealousy,” the lecturer said.

Venerable Bebalagama Rathanapala Thera, a senior sectional head of Hettipola MV in Kurunegala told the Daily News that almost all parents a large slice of their earnings and income to offer a quality education for their children as education is an asset to ensure children become productive citizens. However, teachers, elders and parents have to be extra vigilant when they send their children to distant urban areas for tuition. A number of teenagers have developed clandestine affairs while studying in private classes and later, they have either eloped or the girls have become pregnant. Some students were also reported to be victims of sexually transmitted diseases, while others have become drug addicts. “The government should launch awareness programmes for the school community to enlighten them of the consequences of alcohol and drug addiction. The religious dignitaries too should take the lead in this regard. We need not worry about labels of religions in this regard but as responsible senior citizens, we should get together to achieve the desired results of saving our younger generation from the drug menace. There were print and electronic media reports to say that even senior politicians and their children have become victims of drugs. If this trend goes on unheeded by the responsible authorities, undoubtedly, the future generation of this country would be badly affected. Then they will neither do a service to the country nor to themselves. It is very clear that a number of international organisations and world famous racketeers are working actively behind the curtain with the blessings of the powerful politicians and influential government senior officials in the previous regime. Otherwise, how can these massive rackets be operated without such support from such powerful characters?” he said.

“Under these circumstances, we have a great responsibility towards protecting our children from anti-social elements active in society,” Venerable Bebalagama Rathanapala Thera added.

A Deputy Manager at People’s Bank, Makandura Branch in Kurunegala, expressing his personal views on private tuition said that passing competitive examinations alone is not sufficient to create a balanced future citizen. Any future citizen should be equipped with noble human values too. A misguided individual will influence others negatively, creating disharmony in society.

“All religions have preached noble teachings and they are essential to build civilised societies. Inculcating positive thoughts and attitudes in the minds of children from childhood is essential to create well-balanced individuals in society. The four major religions have been practised in Sri Lanka for centuries. All these religions have helped and guided Sri Lankans to live in peace and harmony. By following our forefathers and their valuable traditions and conventions, our present-day citizens too can live that meaningful way of life even now. Almost all modern students are heavily influenced by the ultra-modern era of science and technology. Western culture and western attitudes are highly admired and valued by these so-called ‘intelligent scholars’. Eastern attitudes and cultural traditions are undervalued. This mindset is unhealthy and is also contrary to the nation’s cultural and religious identity,” he said.

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