Pandemic hits tuition centres hard

COVID-19 Education

Low enrolment, plummeting revenues pose a big challenge

Panchkula: Tuition centres in Panchkula are struggling to sustain their business due to low enrolment for online classes amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Tuition centres were forced to stop classes in March because of the nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ritu Gupta from Ace Tutorials informed The Observer: “Our institute was closed during March and April.” 

Ace, one of the big tuition centres in Panchkula, has started online classes. “Yes, we have started online classes from May. But students cannot get the same clarity as they received in classroom teaching,” added Gupta. 

Lack of government guidelines and parents’ concerns over Covid-19 are preventing tuition centres from re-opening after the lockdown was lifted.

Unlike Ace, some of the smaller coaching centres could not sustain and had to shut down. Ashutosh Sharma, a retired government officer, ran a small math tuition centre at his home in Sector 20. He was forced to shut his classroom in the lockdown, and has not been able to restart since.

“I was done with the syllabus for 2019-20 batch and then the lockdown happened. After Unlock 1.0, parents were not comfortable sending their kids,” said Sharma. He feels he can only start teaching again once the pandemic ends. 

Vishal Institute for Mathematics in Sector 14, another reputable coaching centre, planned to expand its operations to more subjects from the 2020-21 academic year. But due to the pandemic, they had to stop. “The lockdown was imposed in March, and all plans came to a halt,” owner Vishal Sood said. 

Parents are not comfortable sending their children to classrooms in the current environment.

Rajesh Verma, father of a class XI student said: “Studies may suffer, but safety is my priority. I am not willing to send my ward to tuition classes until Covid-19 is over.” Pratima Rani, parent of a class X student, shared a similar opinion: “I am satisfied with online classes.”

On one hand, parents are reluctant to send their children for physical classes, on the other students prefer offline teaching. Aryan Pandey, a student of class XI who is enrolled with Ace, informed: “I am not comfortable with online classes.” He feels it is time coaching institutes start offline classes with proper safety regulations. 

Kanav Goel, a class X student, told: “The level of interaction with teachers is not the same as in offline classes.” 

Ritu Gupta from Ace also mentioned that students complained about feeling tired after attending back-to-back online classes.

With fewer students enrolling for the new academic year, revenues of the big tuition centres have dropped. Even the new enrolments are being charged less fees than usual. Due to this, institutes are struggling to meet their expenses. “The teachers are cooperating with their salaries, but the biggest problem is rent,” said Gupta. 

Sood from Vishal Institute shared similar problems. “Parents enroll their children only if we reduce the fees. Sustaining with such low fees is very difficult,” he said. Vishal Institute’s plan of expanding operations has been deferred until the pandemic subsides. 

The Delhi government earlier had released an SOP for both private schools and coaching centres, but the Haryana government is yet to do the same. With no clear instructions and guidelines to operate, and with schools remaining closed at least until December 10, the future for these tuition centres remains uncertain.

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