Every night after putting her one-year-old baby to bed,Tishu Sood,28,switches on her computer. The Ludhiana home-maker transforms into a stern Maths tutor. Her pupils are students based in the United Kingdom,where schools are realising that the famed Indian prowess in Maths can be used for the benefit of their students at a price that is several times less than what is being charged by the local teachers.
I start at around 9 pm and take multiple sessions. Usually,my classes go on to 6 am, says Sood,who gets Rs 500 per hour.
Munish Kumar and his team of 25 tutors do the same job from a proper office. This management graduate was comfortably ensconced in a corporate job before his desire to teach found a lucrative complement. His set-up,called Top Careers and You,teaches Maths to 3,500 students based in England.
Business has grown tremendously ever since I started this initiative in 2005. We are extending our reach to more countries in Europe and North America this year. I need at least 150 new teachers in the next few months, says Kumar.
His motley group of teachers comprises technocrats,home-makers,engineering students and university researchers. Many of them work from home. Kumar says the selection process is stringent. Apart from a thorough understanding of Mathematics,we look for a flair for teaching. Also the person needs to be articulate in English, he says. The students are mostly from Grade 4 to 9 in England schools.
One example is the Ashmount School in Islington,England. About 300 students of this school take online lessons from Kumars group.
The students typically log in to a secure site with a user name and password to work with a tutor,having booked a session at least 24 hours in advance. Each session is delivered using a range of audio and visual tools,helping to aid comprehension and reinforce learning. The virtual whiteboards allow the student and tutor to draw,type,create shapes and graphs,as well as upload presentations on any topic. Students pay about Rs 864 per hour,while the fee charged by British Maths teachers is about Rs 2,880 per hour.
Talking to The Indian Express,Tom Hooper,managing director of Bright Spark Education (the company which started this service),says,I chose India because it was so difficult to find Maths teachers in the UK. So we tracked down 100 tutors in Ludhiana. These teachers have been trained in UK curriculum so that the students do not face any problem.
Maths teachers are in short supply in the UK. Last year,only 5,980 students graduated in Maths from UK universities.
Rebecca Stacey,assistant head teacher of Ashmount Primary School,says,The online Maths sessions with tutors in India complements my teaching. We can plan specific lessons for students depending upon their strengths and shortcomings.
She adds,Once we tested the sessions on a few pupils and they were happy with it,we showed the rest of the group. Now it is regularly used alongside Maths lessons and every pupil has had 15 hours of one-to-one tutoring since March 2010. Students who may feel too shy to ask a question in class can ask their tutor instead.