Thursday, September 21, 2006

Private lessons, a necessary evil?

Gigi Douban has a good piece on private tutoring in the CSM today. Just a week after the school year began, and 15 million students entered the classroom after a long summer break, this article comes very timely indeed.

Education is not something that anyone takes easily, in any society, Egypt is not an exception to that rule, quite the opposite. It used to be the safest way of achieving social mobility, but nowadays, When students embark on their journey of endless private tutors at the age of nine, with all the amount of stress that follows with the years of preparing for a window of hope that will open for a month,(or two with the new system)years and years from the time you start taking private lessons , all your efforts as a student is aiming at that point in time, when you carry the hopes of yourself and your family alike on your shoulders. Aiming for the Thanawiá amma, the high school diploma, with enough grades to get you in to what you want to be, or want to study.

It´s perfectly true that visiting a household of any student during the year of his/her final high school exams is like going through a mine field, everything is done for the student, in order, not to fail his/her(or the dream of their parents), the private lessons is a must for most students if they want to pass the exams, and no stone is left untouched. The parents of poor students has to try and give their kid what they need, but ultimately there will be an imbalance in the system, to the benefit of students, with a somewhat more priviliaged background.

The teachers are just as trapped as the students, the low amount of salaries to teachers is of course the villian in this. Many of my friends and family live with this , teachers and students alike, what Yousry describes is unfortunately a very accurate picture of the state of things, teachers not teaching their student the complete courses does happen , but there are a few things more that complicate matters, the high figure of students in every class, and the old school of learning things by heart, dosen´t exactly help things either.

And if someone fails the exams, it´s like going to a funeral, and there are plenty of examples year in and year out of these tragical cases, with students not copeing with the pressure.

Frederik Richter wrote about this, two weeks ago, you can find it here

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