Expensive private tutoring increases inequality, say experts

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Private tutoring is increasing inequality between high and low-income families and must either be abolished or restricted to schools where it is accessible to all, experts have said.

According to figures from statistics agency CBS, children from affluent areas have much better school results than their peers from poorer areas, partly because they have access to private tutoring, demand for which has been soaring.

In 2017, parents paid some €320 million for private lessons compared to €472 million in 2022, CBS figures show.

Some 100 tutoring agencies set up shop each year, according to Dutch chamber of commerce figures, with prices varying from €20 to over €100 an hour.

“In an ideal world there would be no need for tutoring outside school,” Hans Spekman of equal opportunities organisation Jeugdeducatiefonds told the AD. “It increases inequality and hurts children. Spekman also said the practice is unregulated and there is little quality control.

“The government must do more to earmark schools which need more funding, not spread the money evenly. You will then be able to keep the good teachers and stop parents from going to agencies,” he told the paper.

The education ministry has made efforts to stop commercial tutoring by banning schools from promoting agencies and encouraging them to use non-profit organisations.

However part of the €8.5 billion set aside for a national programme to combat inequality, has ended up in the coffers of commercial tutoring agencies, the government think-tank Centraal Planbureau has said.

“That means the private tutoring industry is getting an extra boost, financed by public money,” director Pieter Hasekamp warned.

In a reaction, the national organisation of tutoring agencies LVSI said that schools and agencies are “working more closely together” and that this has led to lower fees which enables more children from poor backgrounds to participate. In places with teacher shortages the agencies could play a temporary role in solving the problem,” it said. The LVSI also said agencies should be quality-controlled.

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