Private coaching industry in India has emerged as one of the fastest growing industries in the service sector catering to all levels of education including preparations for engineering, medical, management examinations and more. According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce in India (ASSOCHAM) study on ‘Business of private coaching centres in India’ conducted in 2013, India’s private coaching market was estimated at 23.7 billion USD in 2013 and was likely to touch 40 billion USD by the end of 2015. Over the years, the demand for private coaching has increased significantly not only in India, but worldwide too. According to a study by Global Industry Analysts conducted in 2015, global private tutoring market is projected to surpass 102.8 billion USD by 2018 (Crotty, 2012). The study further states that United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific region are responsible for more than 90 per cent of the global private tutoring market and South Korea alone is going to reach 19.5 billion USD—roughly 20 per cent of the entire market. In addition, India is leading the way in online tutoring by offering professional linguistic and academic coaching capabilities at an affordable cost. The mentoring industry in India, has shown a record growth of almost 35 per cent in the last six years. In 2015, the size of private coaching industry was estimated at 45 billion USD which was likely to touch 70 billion USD by 2017 as per the report.
Looking at the significant growth of private coaching market, one may argue that it is a trend rather than a necessity. However, in the backdrop of faulty infrastructure of a weak education system, it just may indeed be a necessity. In government schools, with large class sizes resulting in poor pupil-teacher ratio, it is not possible for teachers to pay attention to each and every student, thus leading to lower learning levels among students. Moreover, with increasing peer pressure and tough competition in the labour market, students who desire to excel in academics have to seek private coaching in addition to attending classes in school (Gupta, 2016). The ASSOCHAM survey points out that the basic reason behind the increase are parents who find it easier to rely on tuitions—one due to lack of time in the case of working parents, and secondly if they are ill-equipped to teach their children. According to this survey, a whopping 87 per cent of primary school students and 95 per cent of high school students in metros receive private tutoring. Interestingly parents are spending about one-third of their income on these tuitions (ASSOCHAM, 2013).
Proportion of students coached
According to the NSSO 2014 report, around 71 million students (26 per cent) were enrolled for private coaching in India. The report further shows that a larger proportion of male students (41 million) opt for private coaching as compared to female students (30 million), 27.3 per cent males and 24.3 per cent females combining all levels of education were taking private coaching. About 89 per cent of the students cited ‘augmenting basic education’ as the major reason for additional tuitions. At the school level, the proportion of students taking private coaching was marginally higher at 27 per cent, constituting 28.4 per cent males and 25.2 per cent females, which rose sharply to 36 per cent when secondary and senior secondary level was considered (MOSPI, 2014) (Fig. 1).
The spatial aspect
The regional distribution reveals a strong urban bias with a significant proportion of students availing private coaching in urban areas (34.2 per cent) as compared to rural areas (22.6 per cent). Interestingly the trend of private coaching is popular even among students belonging to lower usual monthly per capita consumer expenditure (UMPCE) quintiles both in rural and urban areas. In rural areas, students opting for private coaching from bottom two UMPCE quintile ranges between 17 and 25 per cent, while this proportion rises steeply in urban areas ranging between 29 and 32 per cent. The significant proportion of students seeking private tuitions even from among the lower quintiles clearly indicates quality issues in India’s basic education system in schools (Nanda, 2015).
It is pertinent to point out that although private coaching is prevalent across all states in India, the eastern states however show higher proportion of students taking private coaching compared to other parts of the country (Fig. 2). Among major states, the top five places are occupied by West Bengal with the highest proportion of 78 per cent followed by Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Delhi. The north-east region constituting 7 states shows that 28 per cent of their enrolled students in general education were taking private coaching. The bottom five states with lowest proportion of students opting for private tuitions are Telangana, Himachal, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
Spending on private coaching
Between 64th and 71st round of NSSO, the average private expenditure on general education per student increased significantly by 18.4 per cent at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from INR 2461 in 2007-08 to INR 6788 in 2014. Rural India shows higher growth in educational expenditures (19.4 per cent) compared to urban India (16.6 per cent) between these two periods (MOSPI, 2010).
The component wise breakup of private expenditure on education provides interesting insights. As per the NSSO survey 2014, private coaching has emerged as the third most important component under educational expenditure with 15.3 per cent share in total expenditure at all India level, after course fees (46 per cent) and books, uniforms and stationery (22.4 per cent). The percentage share of average expenditure on private coaching per student out of average expenditure on general education per student has gone up from 10 to 14 per cent in the rural areas between 2007-08 and 2014 whereas in urban area, this proportion has increased from 13 to 16.5 per cent. In terms of growth rate, however, the average expenditure per student on private coaching for general education has increased by 20 per cent between 2007-08 and 2014. Rural areas record higher growth of 23 against the 17 per cent growth in urban areas.
Among all levels of school education, Figure 3 reveals that the share of expenditure on private coaching is highest for students enrolled in government schools followed by private aided schools, clearly pointing towards quality gaps/facilities in these schools compared to private unaided schools. While for government schools, the share of expenditure on private coaching is highest for secondary education at 35.6 per cent, for private aided schools, it is highest in case of higher secondary level of education at 24.3 per cent. Even in the case of private unaided schools, higher secondary education shows highest share of expenditure on private tuitions.
State wise spending
Huge disparities exist in the pattern of private expenditures incurred on private coaching across major states in India excluding North East region and UTs. The average per student expenditure on coaching ranges from as high as INR 3082 spent in West Bengal to as low as INR 115 incurred per student in the state of Telangana. Overall, state-wise percentage share of expenditure on private coaching in total expenditure on general education reveals that West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar are among the top three states with highest shares of per student expenditure on private coaching, whereas the southern states of Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh falls in bottom the three category (Fig. 4).
In the world of changing educational scenario, the learning outcomes are now not just limited to classroom teaching. Private coaching has emerged as an additional agenda for preparing students for their future and providing them the customised services at their doorstep. Although, it does serve the need for those whose pockets can afford it, but for children coming from the lower income strata it results in serious consequences. Moreover, the expansion of private coaching to a great extent does affect teaching quality in schools as school teachers turn sanguine, leaving it up to the tutor to cover the syllabus. Apart from the neglect which prompts coaching by private tutors, the quality and commitment of the tutors themselves are additional concerns.
Although schools cannot be blamed entirely for such a phenomenon, it has to be admitted that private coaching emerges because of systemic problems such as shortage of teachers leading to high teacher-pupil ratio; insufficient attention to the grasping faculty of students and an apathy of teachers towards students in general.
Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), 2014. NSS Report 71st Round on ‘Education in India, National Sample Survey Office, MOSPI: GOI.
Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), 2010. NSS Report 64th Round (2007-08) Education in India: Participation & Expenditure, MOSPI: GOI.
ASSOCHAM, 2013. Private Coaching poaches mainstream education. Available at: http://assocham.org/newsdetail.php?id=4050
Gupta S., 2016. Business of Private Tutorials in India Now a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry, Business World, 28 July.
Crotty J. M., 2012. Global Private Tutoring Market Will Surpass $102.8 Billion By 2018, Forbes, 30 October.
Nanda P. K., 2015. Private tuition thrives in India: NSSO survey, Livemint, July 1.