Almost every second school student in Dubai now goes to an after-school private tutor according to figures cited in UAE newspaper Gulf News, which reports the "Shadow Education" market is experiencing rapid growth at the cost of both students who cannot afford private tuition, as well as to schools themselves.
The report cites Dr. Mark Bray, Director of Comparative Education Research Centre, at the University of Hong Kong, argues the sector is burdening students with extra academic work, and creating and widening the social divide.
“One of the biggest repercussions of unchecked tutoring is that it increases social inequality as quality tutoring can’t be afforded by all, meaning only rich students can access it while poor students loose out.
Even for those who can just afford it, "it consumes a lot of household money,” he added.
The source of the problem
Personal tuition centres are mushrooming in many areas of Dubai the newspaper reports with both licensed and unlicensed institutions opening. The report claims over 50% of students now getting personal tuition with the weakness of schools seen as the key driver.
“Schools are not fulfilling all the needs of the students: there are many students who need personalised coaching. We are trying to cater to the needs of a section of the society,” Vikram Ghor of Dubai Tuitions, one of the very few licensed tutorials in Knowledge Village, told Gulf News.
“The good thing about tutoring is that if a tutor is good than he can really help a weak student to catch up or a good student to do even better, according to Dr Bray. "Some students might have problems understanding a lesson in a classroom of thirty or forty students and need personalized tutoring to do better. This is the only good aspect of shadow education,” he said.
Rising entry requirements, lower salaries
Two other drivers for the rise in personal tuition is cut throat competition to get into the best universities, and the low salary of teachers who are forced to use their out of hours time to earn extra income - despite this not being legal in the UAE.
“There is no way you can survive on the pittance that we are paid in schools," a popular tutor of the Indian curriculum told Gulf News.