x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Private tuition 'needs regulation'

While the use of private tutors is officially banned in the UAE, educators acknowledge that the ban is not working.

ABU DHABI // An increasing reliance on private tuition by the country's students is attracting the attention of parents and education experts, some of whom argue that the practice is in need of regulation. While the use of private tutors is officially banned in the UAE, educators acknowledge that the ban is not working. A study published by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development in January found that almost one third of Emiratis with school and university-aged children paid for them to have private lessons, spending Dh1,400 per month on average.

Speaking at a forum at the Dubai School of Government this week, Prof Mark Bray, the director of the Comparative Education Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong, said the practice should be regulated and suggested that teachers should be prevented from tutoring their own pupils outside of school hours. The Dubai School of Government is a teaching and research institution that focuses on public policy.

Khalifa al Nuaimi, a grade 6 mathematics teacher at the Al Tamiuz Model School in Al Ain, agreed that a regulatory framework would be more effective than an outright ban. "Instead of trying to stop it they should try to come up with some system to deal with it. It should be regulated," Mr al Nuaimi said. "Parents and teachers want it so it will happen anyway." Mr al Nuaimi said he would support a system where teachers gave extra tutoring after hours at school.

"The administration can take some percentage of it and the teacher can take the rest," he said, adding that some schools were already doing this. The mother of a grade 12 student at Our Own High School Al Warqaa said she would support a move to prohibit classroom teachers from tutoring their own students. "Sometimes tutors are like, if you come to me I'll give you good grades. It's becoming a little commercial, I guess."

But she added that the practice had its positive aspects. "There are always two sides to the argument. Probably the extra coaching gives [students] an extra edge in the exams, so in a way it's good also." A father of two students at Dubai Modern High School said teachers should be banned from tutoring their own students, as this could lead to favouritism. "If [students] are going in for private tuition to the same teacher then obviously the teacher has to give special preference to anyone who is taking tuition."