SHARJAH // At least five new after-school study centres will be set up this year in an effort to curb illegal private tutors.
The centres, operated by Sharjah Education Zone, will offer high school-level classes three times a week taught by qualified subject teachers.
The main aim, according to Saeed Misbah Al Kaabi, the head of the Sharjah Education Zone, is to tackle "the growing problem of private tuition".
"Some people who offer private lessons are not qualified to teach and may cause more harm. Parents cannot distinguish the good from the bad and spend a lot of money on poor service."
While extra lessons are supposed to help pupils understand the material taught in school, he said, that "it often happens that a child ends up confused between what they learn at school and what their tutor tells them."
Three of the centres will be for high-achieving pupils who have scored more than 90 per cent in their end-of-term exams, while the other two - perhaps with a third to be added later - will be open to any high-school pupil wanting extra tuition.
A study of 180 students at UAE University last year found that two-thirds had taken private lessons during grade 12. Slightly more than half of them were also being tutored after hours by their daytime teachers.
With salaries as low as Dh6,000 a month, most teachers illegally supplement their income with after-school tuition. But if caught, they face dismissal or even court. The new centres will represent a less risky way to boost their income.
Fathya Zaid, the head of education processes at the education zone, said the centres would help teachers stay committed. "They can plan better and more extensive resources and worksheets and also work with their colleagues and share the experience."
The centres would help pupils improve their grades, she said. "We want to build their confidence and not only prepare them for the examination but help them acquire basic life skills."
Education officials are also hoping they will encourage more pupils to pursue science careers at university.
The classes will cost Dh250 a month - far less than the Dh200 per lesson private tutors charge.
Mohammed Khali, the English supervisor for schools in the emirate, said many teachers had complained about children who have private tutors.
"They do not pay attention in class because they know they will be going for tuition after school."
Private lessons were often expensive but unhelpful, he said. "Many times the teacher may not provide the right information and that will affect the child's performance. These centres will be monitored so they will have to offer quality teaching."