8 hours of school and then tuition: Is your child learning anything?

Published: October 29, 2013

Students who are used to tuitions want to find short cuts in everything. They have never learned how to struggle and strive for something. PHOTO: FILE

I was quite disturbed to hear that Haroon Tariq – the student who secured 38 As in IGCSE – has opened up a tuition centre where he intends to offer paid tuition for O’ and A’ level subjects.

It is indeed sad that such a brilliant mind is encouraging a trend like after school classes. This article by no means serves to undermine the accomplishments of the aforementioned student, but to highlight the implications of the overall growing trend of private tuition in Pakistan, whose endorsement by Haroon is pitiful.

In my opinion, after-school tuition are a handicap, or put it more appropriately, an addiction for students. Once a child develops the habit of getting spoon fed by tuition teachers, his intellectual abilities begin to decline. He no longer strives to find solutions to the problems he faces in his studies, but instead looks towards the aid he expects to receive in the evening from the academy.

A line from the online advertisement of Haroon’s academy reads,

‘Your only job will be to revise the material; the extraction of relevant material is up to us.’

This is the worst form of spoon-feeding one can imagine and those falling for such taglines are committing intellectual suicide. It is through the practice of extraction of relevant materials and other such intermediary activities that actual learning takes place.

I remember studying for my O’ level Geography paper. The subject was not offered in my school (or any other school I knew), and thus it was impossible to find someone who had previously appeared for this particular subject’s examination. Yet, instead of going to a tuition centre, I went through the course syllabus and searched online for relevant books. After going through a number of book reviews, I finalised a couple of course books and bought them from the local bookshop.

I do understand that such measures of self-study are difficult and students can easily get confused – or worse, distracted. There were instances when even I became unsure of whether I was on the right track or not, but this where my true learning took place. After studying independently, I not only scored an A* but was also awarded Top in the World in Geography certificate by the CIE.

As a student who never succumbed to the pressure of after-school tuitions I can say one thing for sure; students who become accustomed to tuitions try and find further shortcuts and this habit continues even through university level.

Until a student realises that there is no option other than studying, striving and working hard on their own, they will never think that the struggle is worthy and will always take the easier way out. Working hard and seeing the results can change a person’s approach towards life. Allama Iqbal gives a beautiful comparison between getting end results through short cuts and through hard work stating that;

Jachtey Nahi Bakhshay Hoye Firdous Nazar Mein Jannat Teri Pinha Hai Terey Khoon-e-Jigar Mein

(The heaven, which was given as a gift to Hazrat Adam (AS) before the creation of this world, did not have that charm and beauty which a self-created paradise on Earth (through hard work) would have)

Another ‘package’ offered by Haroon was the;

‘Revised Package’: Full course in four months

This is a clear violation of the official CIE stance which says that O’ level syllabuses are designed on the assumption that candidates have about 130 guided learning hours per subject over the duration of the course. Furthermore, these kinds of convenience store ‘packages’ also serve as incentives to students be sloppy throughout the school year and just go for tuition for four months to cover the entire course.

After-school tuition are also detrimental to the health of students. Studying for eight hours continuously in school and then going to tuition centres in the evening is inhuman, to say the least. Nowadays, parents have even started sending children in primary school for evening tuition! They can barely talk yet and are already being thrust into the ‘big bad world of competitors’? I have relatives in my family who do the same and it is beyond my comprehension how this activity is relied on not just by students but by their parents too! When questioned, the usual response from parents is that they want their child to perform the very best in tests.

I have just one question for such minds. Do we want a nation full of brilliant little test takers?

Wouldn’t it be better if the students spent the same time in the evening playing sports, chit-chatting with their parents, or just reading some non-course books instead? This would not only help them maintain their social presence but will also aid them in their academic performance. A healthy body and mind can perform better than an overworked one and only an active mind can perform better. Tuition make your mind lazy; don’t encourage this dependency in students!


Osama Sajid

An undergraduate student at LUMS who is pursuing Economics, he is interested in reading and researching Pakistan's cultural and political issues.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sarah B. Haider

    My cousins first go to school, come home, eat, leave for tuition where they complete the homework they get from school, come back after an hour, then wait for a Qari sahab to teach Qur’an to them. After that, they do their homework which they get from their tuition teacher. After which, they religiously watch TV or use the computer. To add to the misery, the mother of the children have compelled them to study O’levels solely because ‘everyone in their social circle is going for O’levels’. Not only this, the kids are expected to perform exceptionally well in exams -which they somehow manage to do -and it brings immense pride to their family.

    As compared to these kids, when I recall my own childhood
    days, the concept of tuition was completely alien. We used to come home from
    school, eat, sleep for an hour or two, wake up, learn Qur’an through PTV’s
    Iqra, do our school homework in my mother’s supervision (my father always told my mom, “you are a graduate, teach the kids at home”), watch cartoon, go out
    for cycling, come back, eat evening snacks, watch 9pm Drama on PTV with family,
    read story books before going to bed. And I always remained an A+ student. Life back then was simply amazing. I pity the robots of children we see these days, whose sole purpose to seek knowledge is to fit in their parents’
    social circle, or grow up to become successful professionals (again to bring a
    sense of pride to their families, get good marriage proposals, or become
    parents’ walking sticks).Recommend

  • Aleem Zubair

    Also, these strenuous academic routines that have monopolised the evenings of most
    students have been seriously detrimental to sports in Pakistan. They have school-work in the morning and tuition in the evening, with no time to spend on activities that exercise their physical abilities.

    Education is important but sports should not be ignored in the
    process. Sadly, fun and play have been put on the back burner for far
    too long. Children need to be allowed to have a life outside just academic achievements. Their milestones need to be redefined. They need to be allowed to
    exercise the abundance of other skills God has gifted them with. After
    all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.Recommend

  • Mr M

    I strongly agree with u. and i also recomend others dn’t waste time, money and efforts in tuition centers as the final product is always substandard.Recommend

  • Mr M

    I strongly agree with u. and i also recomend others dn’t waste time, money and efforts in tuition centers as the final product is always substandard.Recommend

  • imad

    I agree with you completely !! Self study opens your mind to critical thinking which is crucial in this complex global environment.Recommend

  • Reader

    In Pakistan, it is all about memory and not knowledge. Whoever is good in learning something by heart will get good grades and very unfortunately people not good at it are left behind and that creates social divide and imbalance.

    There is also another major reason for that. Education has never been our national priority. It has been a money making machine but no investment in training the teachers or developing the material.Recommend

  • Mariah

    Back in my days at college, i remember many girls just sitting and having fun in the class while the lecture was going on and their excuse used to be “we will study the same thing in the tution anyway” or “we have already covered that topic in the tution”. If a teacher asked a question or to solve a math problem, while the rest of us took some time figuring it out, students who went to tution would imediately raise their hands and give the corrected answer accompanied by a self satisfied smirk! But isnt that like going to two schools at the same time? My college van used to drop some girls at their tutions instead of their homes and they would get free from there around 6′ o clock! Meaning they are studying from 8 till 6 and later on in life they’ll be working for the same number of hours so practically they never enjoyed the evening tea with family, or developed a hobby, or had free time to socialize.. All of which are just as important as academics.
    I wish parents realize that getting an A is not the most important thing in the world, that if your child is average in his studies then that is not the end of the world! I wish the parents in our society educate themselves well enough that they themselves help their children with their studies and encourage them to develop hobbies, to take part in sports and co curricular activities, to socialize and be concious of personal fitness. I wish our generation takes both deen and dunya side by side. Ameen :)Recommend

  • Parvez

    Couldn’t agree with you more. By the way I also liked Geography and it was the only A I got in my O levels……….but in those days my school had Geography as a subject.Recommend

  • Reader

    Actually it is basically the parents (more specifically mothers) to be blamed for. Keep an eye on them but dont destroy their personalities. Don’t make them race horses meant to run and run fast to win. Develop the character and personality in your child.Recommend

  • muzammil

    Brilliantly pointed out the flaws of the present day education in Pakistan. I think that the acquisition of knowledge just for the sake of it has lost its currency. Now we are just producing graduates on a large scale.Recommend

  • Ali S

    I studied up till grade 6 in a GCSE system school in Dubai, and completed grade 6 through high school in Canada before moving to Pakistan for MBBS. I’ve never taken a single tuition, my mother helped me with the homework up till grade 3 or 4, and I had been a position-holder throughout school.

    In fact, in high school in Canada, I remember that every semester we had an assignment where we’d be asked to read an entire unit by ourselves and then make an essay and presentation on it for the class. It was so that we’d be able to be learn independently, which is the exact opposite of what is trendy here – which is exhaustive spoon-feeding and keeping critical thinking to a minimum.

    It saddens me to see my cousins here being worked like donkeys in the name of education. This is child abuse.Recommend

  • raafae

    Really liked this Blog. Myself being a O Level Student in the 3rd and last year. I think tuition is only necessary in subjects you have no knowledge about or cant understand the topics. For example I plan on doing so for maths but would continue my own efforts in the other 6 subjects. Its just matter of thought really.Recommend

  • Hamza

    True. Completely agree with you.
    I, myself have suffered the results of going to a tuition. I started in the 6th Grade and that is when my result started going down. Like you have said, after some time I become completely reliant upon tuitions, something that I started noticing in the 10th Grade.
    Tuition did not improve my grades, in fact, they got worse .Recommend

  • Qwax

    I’m currently studying in my final year of O levels and, not meaning to brag, I am one of the best students in my school, consistently getting A*s and top positions. I’m constantly faced by questions such as “Where do you go for tution?” Or “How mny hours do you study each day?” Hours? Every day? I can’t believe how much people study nowadays. I’ve never gone to tution nor do I study regularly. My secret? I try to balance. And it’s sad to see so many people varying from one extreme to another, a bit of moderction would go a long way in making our lives a whole lot easierRecommend

  • Hasnain Gilani

    Excellent; I hope parents will read and learn from a splendid advise. ET thanks for nice bloggers and opinion columnists.

    The comments by Sarah are excellent addition. I was an average student, yet enjoyed my childhood to the fullest which today’s children may not dream off. By the way being an average student in school and at university never stopped me from reaching to the tallest peeks of my profession.

    Hasnain GilaniRecommend

  • SJ Z Sadanah

    There is another stance to this too. Most of the schools are English Medium, while at home we speak Urdu. This essentially means that the child actually does not understand what is he learning, that is why he tries to just remember it

    In addition to this, mothers are not ready to take the heed of assisting their children for work, coz this will ask their time and energy over it. They then send the children to tuition so that this could also be handled

    Though I also want that my child should play and enjoy, but given the amount of workload that he receives from school, he is unable to do soRecommend

  • Sidra

    Sadly, the education trend in Pakistan is leaning more and more towards exam-oriented learning, rather than learning for its own sake (INCLUDING the O/A level system). The tuition center trend not only reinforces this, but is also flawed for other reasons, such as being a – a status symbol and b- the teaching style is exactly as you mentioned, i.e. ‘shortcut based’.
    No offense to Haroon Rashid, but the goal should not be achieving a certain number of A*s, but learning to the best of one’s capabilities, both with theory and practice, and actually retaining that knowledge in the future.Recommend

  • Osama Sajid

    So true! After getting exceptional O Level grades (Alhamdulliah), I remember being bombarded by similar questions from all sides (relatives, friends, neighbours, and even teachers!) The most weird one, as pointed by you is “How many hours do you study each day?” Ahhhh. To avoid these irritating questions, I stopped telling people my grades, or if asked I used to avoid this topic as much as possible.Recommend

  • Osama Sajid

    Sir, I think we need to teach our children the art of balancing. I mean if all what your child does after getting home from school is study, I would consider it even worst than bonded labour. As parents, you need to realize and appreciate this fact that even if your child is not getting the top most position, he is at least living a ‘normal’ life.
    If the mother is a housewife and educated, and she is still sending her children to tuition centers, then this is an example of height of negligence from her side. I personally think that the role of mother in the early years of child’s education (say up to class 5) is extremely crucial. I remember that my mother used to make me revise all what I have done in school in my primary years, and that training is even helping me today.Recommend

  • Osama Sajid

    Awww. Thank you so much for your comment. Sarah, the comparison you gave is really touching and heart breaking. We, as a society, seriously needs to change the yardstick for measuring ‘success’.Recommend

  • Osama

    YES. Tuitions do not help you in actually studying and are certainly not advisable for primary school kids. However, O Level/ Matriculation and A Level/Intermediate students appearing for their final exams can take tuition because their grades will play an important role in their future careers and they cannot afford to mess up their exams. At the same time these students should not become entirely dependent on tuition because the spoon feeding culture will decrease their brain’s abilities and they will not be able to cope with university life and career.Recommend

  • Mehreen

    Its not only the O and A level system, FSc is worse. The kids have tutions for the entire subjects one after the other for atleast 4 to 5 hours straight. Academies like KIPS, Star and many other have made it their logo that without their tuitions one cant get top most (ridiculously high may i say – and all rote based learning) marks. And the generation to generation trend is continuing and getting worse!Recommend

  • Muneeb

    Not sure how correct such a generalisation is. There was a very well reputed school that I was studying at which failed to provide a good teacher for a particular A Level subject. That is when I joined tuition classes for that subject after school hours. I was the kind of student who would usually study himself but at least, I needed some guidance and direction regarding the syllabus of that particular subject (Note: I’m talking about guidance, not spoon feeding) and the tuition classes in that subject inspired me to analyse things critically and to discover my own analytical skills and that was something that my school failed to provide me. Tuitions are not always good but not always bad either- it’s the teachers who are either good or bad. Therefore, we can’t generalise all tuition classes/sessions as uninspiring or counter productive- it depends on who the tutor is. If the ‘tutor’ is better at his/her job than the ‘teacher’ at an established school, then maybe tuition might turn out to be the student’s saving grace. However, I agree with you to a certain extent. These day a lot of tuition services are more about earning some quick few bucks for the tutor rather than providing quality education (Even I don’t like the idea of the ‘packages’ being offered by Mr. Haroon Tariq neither the spoon feeding approach being encouraged there). However, just because it’s common does not mean that we get judgmental about tuitions generally.Recommend

  • Ibne Abu Shafi

    Sadly to admit, a good number of CIE teachers are also taking it as DHANDA to make money and thereby encouraging students to go for tuitions without least bothering the stand and grasping abilities of their so called students. I know of a CIE Student who was a position holder in class but now due to a series of tuitions at his home he hardly gets time to initialize his personal input in the topics he is taught resulting in gradually deteriorating his grades AND those money makers are simply concerned of their so called DHANDA…..
    Be it informed, I am also a CIE English teacher and strongly discourage it.Recommend

  • Osama Sajid

    Thank you for your feedback Muneeb :) It’s good to see the other side of the coin.Recommend

  • Caymon

    Brother, tuition classes are useless 90% of the time. So yes, we can generalize.” it’s the teachers who are either good or bad?” What is that supposed to mean? Teachers can merely tell you what to do. In the end, its all about what YOU want to do. If you have had ‘bad’ teachers, then before going to tuition classes, there are these tools for guidance called books!Recommend