The Booming Tuition Industry of Lahore

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Private tuition has been defined as “Teaching that complements the instruction given by a teacher at school”(Keeves,Watanbe,2003,p. 756). The culture of private tuitions has always been relatively unique to the students of South Asian countries like Pakistan. Although this culture has always been prevalent, it has particularly thrived over the last five years in Lahore: amongst the students of O and A levels. Going to tuition centres has become such a wide spread practice that it is not really considered a matter of concern by people. There are a number of reasons which help explain the rising trend of tuition centres. These include social factors, psychological factors, institutional policies and so forth. Tuition centres not only influence students and teachers by modifying studying patterns and teaching strategies but they also impose a considerable financial constraint on parents and affect the wider society owing to mismanagement like parking problems. Therefore this study has been conducted with the purpose of determining the reasons for the rising trend of tuition centres, the extent and implications of this practice and possible solutions to the existing problems.

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With the purpose of carrying out effective research, the parameters were clearly defined. This study has been conducted with special reference to Green Hall Academy (GHA), the most popular tuition centre of Lahore which is located in Liberty; in the building of National Grammar School(NGS). GHA is a combined project of the three most famous teachers of Lahore. It was set up two years ago but different tuition centres have been operating in the building of NGS since the last five years. Therefore the time period under consideration is five years that is 2004 to 2009. To ensure that the issue was covered in depth, two different domains were worked on. The reasons for the rising trend of tuition centres, particularly GHA has been covered by me, Sidla Nasir and the problems faced by tuition centres specifically GHA has been worked on by Mehrunisa Shahid.

Literature Review

In a study ‘The issue of private tuition: An analysis of the practice in Mauritius and selected south Asian countries’ by A-Raffick Foondun, the origin of private tuitions has been traced. According to the writer private tuition was originally meant as a remedial class for weak students or for students pursuing a qualification for which regular instruction did not exist. However it is now considered a desirable practice for every other student. The author has described how improved living standards have led to increased demand for education and contributed to the development of private tuition. According to the writer private tuition is more common amongst students representing high income families. Children from such families often take two tuitions for the same subject. To explain the extent of private tuition, the writer describes how In Mauritius, the proportion of students who were tutored has risen from 37% to 88% (Joynathasing et al. 1988:p. 5)

The writer goes on to explain the reasons which have led to the growth of private tuitions. These include demand for places in prestigious schools. This is applicable in Pakistan where admission into reputable universities is based on tests like SAT, GRE, LCAT and so forth. Therefore many students take tuitions in order to prepare for admission tests. According to the writer ineffective teaching strategies at school, low salaries of teachers and peer pressure leads to more students attending private tuitions. In order to validate his argument, the author has incorporated the views of the parents, students and teachers on the issue. It could be concluded that parents and students have mixed opinion regarding private tuitions but teachers are generally in favor of it.

This is a balanced study focusing on all aspects of private tuitions. The reliability and validity is improved by the given statistics, references and views of the those affected by this phenomenon.

The issue of The News International published on Saturday, December 19, 2009 contains an article by Saadia Khalid on ‘Mushroom growth of tuition centres questions role of teachers.’ In this article the author has tried to establish whether the rising trend of going to tuitions has been caused by the falling standards at educational institutions. The writer believes that the major reason for the popularity of tuition centres is “The unprofessional attitude of the teachers who are putting the future of the country at stake”(Khalid, 2009 Para. 5). This idea is consistent with the previous study. In order to prove her point, the writer has incorporated the view of the President Teachers Associations’ Professor who believed that it is the low salaries of teachers at schools due to which they opt for teaching at tuition centres as part time jobs. In addition to this, the writer has mentioned that the teachers teaching at the tuition centres charge a rather high fee due to which, students representing low income families are unable to avail this facility. The writer has also discussed how tuition centres advertise their services extensively–through banners, leaflets and newspapers–with the purpose of attracting more students. While reading the article, it could be concluded that the writer regards the practice of taking tuitions as an unhealthy activity. However, it is important to note that this article just focuses on one side of the picture. The writer has not touched upon the advantages of the rising trend of tuitions.

An article, ‘Tuition centres – a thriving business’ published on August 28 includes the views of parents regarding sending their children to tuitions. Unlike the previous article, this article also considers the merits of the tuition centres. Parents have stated that they send children to tuitions since their busy schedule does not allow them to help them in their studies. They believe that at tuition centres children are provided individual attention and taught in an easy manner. Some believed that it was a need since these tuitions help students make up for the poor standards at some schools (especially government schools) and keep up with their studies. This article presents a balanced argument since it states that although there are some good tuition centres which provide high quality education to students, most of them are operating with the purpose of generating profit.

The above mentioned account shows how the practice of going to tuition centres is generally regarded by the society and points out the various merits and demerits of this practice.


A number of research tools were relied upon which helped us in collecting sufficient information related to our topic. The use of these tools enabled us to analyze the issue better by looking at it from different perspectives.

Firstly a questionnaire was prepared which was distributed to a sample of thirty students, between the ages of sixteen to nineteen years and currently studying at Green Hall Academy. The questionnaires consisted of twelve questions which enabled us to extract quantitative as well as qualitative information. The results of these questionnaires helped us consider the issue from the students’ perspective and assisted us in analyzing the information with the help of pie charts and graphs.

Secondly two in depth interviews were conducted: One with the administrator of GHA and one with the Business Studies instructor who is currently teaching at GHA. A set of questions which had to be asked from the interviewees was prepared in advance.

Moreover method of site-observation was also used to gather information. Several visits to GHA helped us in personally analyzing the tuition centre and the way day to day activities are conducted there.

Analysis of Data

The Reasons for the Rising Trend of Tuition Centres

The increasing number of educational institutions in Pakistan lend support to the fact that over a decade people have become more inclined towards education. Ten years ago there were just a few schools in Lahore which offered O and A levels: However with the passage of the specified time period, perhaps owing to the comparatively low standard of our local system, more institutions have incorporated O and A levels into their curriculum. This expansion has been accompanied by the rapid growth of O and A level tuition centres and the number of students heading to these tuition centres for evening classes. Such large number of students taking tuitions has made this culture take root in the present educational system of Pakistan (Patel, 2008, Para. 1). Tuition culture is relatively unique to South Asian countries like Pakistan. It is not prevalent in countries like Singapore where education is completely privatized and commercialized. Five to six years ago there was no proper tuition centre offering the complete range of O and A level subjects. In fact tuition teaching was restricted to either the students or the teacher’s residence. The more experienced teachers would gather a group of students at their residence and teach to them in the evening. Therefore it would not be wrong to say that the teachers dining table used to serve the purpose of a classroom. However over the past five years there has been a proliferation of tuition centres in Lahore. O and A level teaching has transformed into a proper industry.

Green Hall Academy (GHA) provides a remarkable example of the rapid growth of tuition culture. Located in the busy city centre; Liberty, in the building of National Grammar School (NGS), GHA is presently the most popular tuition centre of Lahore. Different tuition centres have been operating in this building since the last five years. Initially, a tuition centre known as Éclat was established, which offered O and A level tuitions. It was a rather small scale project since the student body comprised of twenty five students. After two years, the name of the tuition centre was changed to Old Man’s Academy but the number of students, popularity level and scale of the business remained the same. Thus, after two years Old Man’s Academy was closed down and Green Hall Academy was established. GHA is a combined project of the three most famous O and A level teachers of Lahore: Namely Mr. Imran Latif, Mr. Shameel Khalid and Mr. Mehwar Mustafa. These three teachers have joined hands to run the tuition centre with the help of an administrator (Mr. Amjad), who is responsible for managing the day to day affairs of the tuition centre. The tuition centre employs thirty workers including the guards, attendants, disciplinary officers and tea boys.

GHA provides a complete setup for students where evening classes are provided for almost all the subjects which are offered at O and A levels. The increasing popularity of GHA is possibly due to the fact that it is similar to a school. At the entrance the identity cards of the students are checked to ensure that unauthorized people are not allowed to enter the tuition centre. Right at the front is an administration block comprising of a photocopier room and an office. On the left is a small cafeteria where a range of food items is available for students. The tuition centre comprises of two floors with proper classrooms which are used for conducting lectures.

Such great similarity of GHA to a proper school raises an important question: Will tuition centres soon replace schools? “With students going for tuition centres for each and every subject, private tuition centre is fast acquiring the status of a parallel schooling system”(Yenning,2010,Para. 2). To majority of the people, the idea of tuition centres replacing schools would seem inappropriate since attending schools is essential for the social, moral and cognitive development of the children. Tuition centres are not responsible for the grooming of the children. In fact at tuition centres students are just provided with an opportunity to enhance their knowledge (A.Mahmood, personal communication, March 10, 2010).However as far as O and A levels is concerned, the programmes are completed in three and two years respectively by schools. The same programmes can be completed in a shorter time span if tuitions are joined. For example, for most of the subjects offered at A levels, tuitions are provided at GHA which enable students to complete the same course in three to six months. This is a major reason which helps explain the growing trend of tuition centres. It has also been observed that due to the rising trend of tuition centres, the number of students appearing privately–registering for the course individually rather than through a school–for O and A level examination has risen over the past five years. The rising trend of tuition centres is also a possible reason for the plummeting attendance ratio in schools. A proportion of students stay enrolled in the educational institutions but do not attend the lectures hoping that the same course would be covered at tuition centres. According to Mr. Imran Latif, for such students, schools merely play the role of a social platform and a place where their extracurricular activities can be performed. As far as studying is concerned such students rely on tuition centres which they believe would facilitate them in securing decent grades(Personal communication, March 10, 2010).On the other hand, Mr. Shameel Khalid suggested that there is a general preference amongst students for going to tuition centres since it enables them to interact with students coming from other schools, particularly the opposite gender(Personal communication, March 15,2010)

Although some students appear privately for their final examinations by choice, others are forced to do so by their institutions. Nowadays privatizing the students is a widespread practice adopted by many schools of Lahore, including Lahore Grammar School, Atchison College and Convent. Admissions of some students for final O and A level examinations are not sent through school if the school management believes that the performance of the students does not reach the required standards and they would not be able to score well in the final examination, leaving an adverse impact on the overall school result. Through the results of the questionnaire, it was found that 20% of the students were coming to GHA since they had been privatized by their educational institutions. (Refer to Figure 3)Therefore when students are privatized, they head to tuition centres which act as a last resort for them. It has been observed that many privatized students succeed in scoring well in their examination.

The results of our research revealed that majority of the students take tuitions owing to psychological reasons. In today’s competitive educational world, almost every student is motivated to perform well in academics. The results of the questionnaires which were distributed amongst students revealed that 80% of students have joined tuition centres with the purpose of gaining additional knowledge(refer to Figure 3). Therefore even those students who are already doing well in schools join tuition centres hoping that they would be able to improve their performance further. In some cases, it is parents who are keen on sending their children to tuition centres.”Tuition is seen as a minimum requirement for any kind of achievement in our academic sense marked by competitive pressure and high aspirations (Frontline,2009,Para. 10). Thus taking tuitions at O and A levels is just a general trend which has thrived over the last five years. The student body of GHA which now comprises of fifteen hundred students helps verify the above mentioned statement. Number of students at GHA exceeds the number of students enrolled in NGS which operates as a proper school in the morning.

Teaching strategies have also possibly contributed to the growth of tuition culture. In tuition centres, teachers teach in a more enthusiastic manner since the monetary return is positively linked to the number of students taught. On the other hand, in schools teachers are paid a fixed amount of salary regardless of the number of students taught (I. Latif, personal communication, March 15,2010). Therefore it is perhaps the low morale and unprofessional attitude of the teachers due to which students are not satisfied with the way they are taught in schools and they opt for private tuitions instead. (Khalid, 2009, Para. 5).

The various reasons that have led to the general trend of tuition centres, including Green Hall Academy have been considered. Although GHA has boomed over time, it was able to avoid many problems faced by businesses at introductory stages. It is logical that, in any business situation if a quality product is offered, it would help create a market for itself and attract customers.GHA was established with the purpose of providing quality education in a congenial environment (A.Mahmood, personal communication, March 15, 2010). This purpose seems to have been fulfilled since the project was initiated by the top notch teachers of the city. These teachers were and still are teaching in the best schools of Lahore. Thus, such capable, experienced and popular teachers lent credibility to the project and have played the most crucial role in ensuring sustained progress of the tuition centre. The questionnaire results show that 93% of the students go to GHA due to the availability of best teacher (refer to Figure 4).

Moreover tuitions for the complete range of O and A level subjects; business and science group, are offered at GHA. This greatly facilitates not only the students but the parents who no longer need to worry about picking students up from one tuition centre and dropping to the next for a different subject. Another important factor which has facilitated the students and the parents is the location of GHA. Located in liberty, the centre of Lahore, it is easily accessible to students from all over the city, ranging from those residing in Defense Housing Authority to those living on the canal bank. It is probably one of the factors which have led to such a large number of students at GHA.

Research showed that it was a wise idea to initiate this project in a proper purpose built campus, equipped with better facilities. Observation and visits to other tuition centres revealed that GHA definitely enjoyed an edge as far as campus was concerned.

Generally when Mr. Amjad was asked about the level of competition faced by GHA, it was claimed by him that there is no other tuition centre in Lahore of the same standard as GHA (personal communication, March 15, 2010). However there is another tuition centre in the area of Gulberg which is perhaps better known for the quality of science subjects offered.

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Having considered the various features of GHA, which have helped it thrive, the promotional aspect will now be analyzed. Promotion refers to the activities carried out with the purpose of making a good or service known amongst potential customers and increasing its sales. It is a common observation that tuition centres promote extensively. As far as GHA is concerned, word of mouth–transfer of information from one person to another–has a strong impact. Ninety three percent of the students had mentioned in the questionnaires that they got to know about the academy through their friends (refer to Figure 2). Thus when one student decides to take tuitions, he/she recommends it to his/her friends, acquaintances and so forth.

Other forms of promotion are also relied upon by GHA, including indoor and outdoor advertising. As far as outdoor advertising is concerned, leaflets are dropped in houses throughout the city especially when a new session is scheduled to begin soon. In addition to this, for a few months television was also used for promoting GHA; However this method of promotion was soon stopped since it proved to be expensive and ineffective. It was found that the purpose of promotion carried out by GHA is informative rather than persuasive. The leaflets which are distributed contain information regarding the teachers, subjects offered and location of the tuition centre. Therefore indoor advertising is also used for informative purposes. Banners are often put up containing information regarding the beginning of a new session, timings and so forth. Another indirect yet interesting method used for promotion is the pens available in Mr. Imran Latif’s classes. The students are allowed to take these pens everyday, which have the name of the tuition centre, teacher and contact number printed on them. Once these pens are in the students’ possession they are seen by more and more people and help spread awareness about the tuition centre.

With regard to the fee structure of GHA, it was found that the fees of the teachers are competitive–similar to what is charged by teachers teaching in different tuition centres–.The fees charged from the students is entirely in accordance with a teacher’s requirements. From every teacher’s monthly income a certain proportion is deducted to account for the expenses of running the tuition centre. The cut taken from teacher’s salary is decided after negotiations amongst the teachers and the administrator. Generally, the more experienced a teachers is, the smaller cut he would agree upon (S. Khalid, personal communication, March 15, 2010). Therefore, the more popular teachers benefit from this trend more than the less renowned ones.

As far as the revenue–amount received from selling a good or service–is concerned, profit is not the primary motive of the academy. Although over two years, the student body has increased, the expenses have also risen leading to only a slight increase in revenue (A.Mahmood, personal communication, March 10, 2010). However, it was found that Green Hall Academy generates rupees 1 million monthly. The total cost incurred by the tuition centre including the running expenses and the staff salaries is five hundred thousand rupees. This leaves GHA also with a profit of around five hundred thousand rupees (S.Khalid, personal communication, March 15, 2010). Therefore such substantial revenue generated helps verify the point that private tuition is indeed a booming industry of Lahore(refer to figure 6).

Problems Faced by Tuition Centres

Analyzing the information provided, one is made aware of the positive aspects of tuition teaching. The success of this profession can be witnessed by the extent to which it has prospered. It is a source of extra knowledge to the students and helps in the creation of successful business as well.

The Green Hall Academy offers all the facilities that are required for the successful establishment of any evening tuition centre. The top most teachers, purpose built campus, quality education, respectable disciplinary procedures and so forth. A universally accepted fact is that a business cannot be free from problems. Despite all the positive aspects mentioned, Green Hall Academy has almost seven areas that are potentially problematic and steps should be taken into consideration in order to counter them.

Owing to the growing number of students, serious traffic and parking issues prevail in the area around Green Hall Academy. It is located in the centre of Liberty Market. Where several shops are adjacent to it, many offices are also found opposite the academy. Therefore during the rush hours of the academy; from four till seven in the evening, the traffic outside the academy is a mess (refer to Picture H).The road from Capri restaurant leading to the academy is mostly blocked. When asked from a mother who came to pick her daughter, we were told that she was stuck in front of Capri restaurant from the past twenty minutes and thus got late for some other commitment. 80% of the students of Green Hall Academy thought that traffic jams in front of the academy was the most critical problem they had to face (refer to Figure 5). These problems cause delay for the students attending the classes as well as the teachers taking them. Moreover the academy’s parking is usually congested and many people have to go about without getting a parking space for their cars. During the time period mentioned, there is already a lot of activity taking place in the city of Lahore. At this time most of the tuition centres experience the same problem but it is a severe cause of concern for the Green Hall Academy due to its location. No doubt it is an ideal location for people residing in the area of Gulberg, Cavalry, Defense Housing Authority and even the canal bank. Green Hall Academy has the best location for an academy that could be thought of by the management (S.Khalid, personal communication, March 15, 2010).However the fact cannot be ignored that Liberty is the most popular shopping area in Lahore.

Although the campus is purpose built, adjustments have to be made in order to run such a vast system. For this purpose six guards have been appointed outside the academy to control the traffic. Separate lanes are made and the guards make sure that nobody deviates from them. No car as allowed to stop in front of the academy for more than one minute. Specific parking space is allotted to the teachers and no student can park their car over there. Another possible solution which would be helpful in resolving the parking issue could be that there are a few empty plots near the academy, so the management can negotiate with the authorities and expand the parking over there.

The campus of the Green hall academy is huge and it was claimed by the administration that this was the most gigantic building located in the premises of Liberty market, Lahore (refer to the Picture D). In contrast to this information, the building is still crowded and it becomes difficult to accommodate such a large number of students. This is specially applicable during the months of May and June; considered to be the peak season and also popularly known as “past paper session”. The academy has to fit in at least fourteen hundred students during these months. The children are willing to get a quick revision of the courses they have covered during their academic years as the Cambridge examination take place in the month of May.

The size of the class rooms is also a concern for the management as even in the most spacious classrooms of the academy, the number of students cannot exceed fifty. However, there are a few classrooms in which more than seventy students have to sit and this creates an extremely uncomfortable environment for the students as well as the teachers.

In order to rectify the crowd problem of the campus, guards are appointed in the premises of the building. These guards make sure that no child stands, specifically in groups, in the corridors and outside the classrooms. For this purpose special waiting areas have been maintained for students who study more than one subject and have to wait for their classes as well as for the parents who wish to wait for their children. This reduces the level of crowd and congestion in the campus.

For creating a comfortable environment for the students in the classrooms, the administrator of the academy has started restricting the number of students for each subject, ( A.Mehmood, personal communication, March 10, 2010). This idea has been supported by the students as 60% of the students were of the opinion that not more than twenty students should be allowed to sit for a lecture. This would also assist the teachers in conveying their lecture quickly and more effectively.

Fights between boys was a distinct feature of the Green Hall Academy at one point in time. Mostly personal issues were the reason of these conflicts. Young boys took out their personal rivalry using the Green Hall Academy as their base. This a common issue faced by every tuition centre catering to the age-group of students ranging from fourteen years till eighteen years. Children are found to be very aggressive. The young blood provokes them to even physically take their vengeance out on their contemporaries. This issue can get very serious if not much attention is paid to it, as students prefer using solid material, such as bats, chains and so forth, to beat each other up. Therefore, the management of GHA has taken all the necessary measures in order to take care of this problem. Any student who tries to create any kind of chaos is not reprimanded but directly expelled from the academy. This policy has been strictly enforced by the management of Green hall academy, and there have been few expulsions in the past, ( A.Mehmood, personal communication, March 10, 2010) .The situation has improved over the last two years as only 7% of the children considered it to be a major issue,(refer to Figure 5).

There is nothing new about the fact that when children are a part of a co-education system, there will be some kind of interaction between them. This might be an issue for parents, particularly when they have to send their children to evening tuitions. This interaction leads to the development of troublesome matters. One of the weighty ones is called Bunking. Bunking is a universal activity which basically means skipping lessons. This is more easily done at academies, particularly the popular academies. This matter concerns the parents a lot, as they have to bear additional financial burden by paying the child’s academy’s fee. 33% of the students gave a positive response when asked if their parents felt overburdened due to extra payment they had to make to the academy ( refer to the Figure 7). So they do not want their children deceiving them and resorting to places other than the academy.

Green Hall Academy has worked on the most common root cause of this situation that would be to reduce the interaction between boys and girls who are a part of this academy. Disciplinary officers have been appointed who make sure that there is absolutely no interaction amongst students of both the genders. The guards who are appointed inside the premises are also responsible for performing the mentioned duties. This practice is carried out so vigorously that once two people were warned for not interacting with each other, until later it was discovered that they were siblings! The classrooms are also segregated– girls and boys are supposed to sit on separate sides–

Food is considered to be a vital source of entertainment. Schools have canteens and cafeterias to facilitate the students with lunch as the students have to spend half of their days in schools. Earlier it was not very common to have cafeterias in academies but since Green Hall Academy’s foundation is based in National Grammar School’s building so it does provide the students with certain eatables.

There are two cafeterias in Green Hall Academy. One is at the top most storey of the building and the other is on the ground floor. The cafeterias have undergone a few changes over the last two years but there are a few areas that should be further polished. The cafeteria at the ground floor permits any student to avail the services that it offers whereas the cafeteria at the top-most storey caters only to the male students. The menu offered by both the cafeterias is common and very limited. The list of items sold includes chips, roles, patties, juice, soft drinks and so forth. According to 7% of the students the menu is not of superior quality, (refer to Figure 5). The range of items that are offered for sale should be widened and the quality should be improved. Green Hall Academy is considered to be a very popular venue for youngsters and an attractive cafeteria would just add a cherry on top of the cake. Almost half of the students attending the academy take tuitions for more than two subjects and some students advance to the academy directly from school. These factors should be considered by the management of the academy and students should be provided with proper meals. The owners of the cafeterias should be instructed to add more variety to the food items and sell them at lower rates. Over the last few months a few changes have been


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