Educationists question the rationale of extra classes in schoolsWhile schools say extra classes prepare students to do well in exams, many believe they deprive students of free time and extracurricular activities.
Sujan is a ninth grader at a private school in Mulpani. His daily routine starts at five in the morning. The 14-year-old, along with his friends, reaches school well before six to attend “extra classes”.
After extra classes are over, he attends regular classes before returning home at around five in the evening.
“I have to spend my whole day studying and doing homework. I do not have spare time for extracurricular activities,” Sujan, who wished to be identified only by his first name, told the Post. “We have to study Compulsory Math, Optional Math and Science for three hours in the morning and after finishing the classes in the morning, we again have to study the same subjects in our regular classes.”
His mother is concerned the classes aren’t of much help. “The extra classes have not helped him score good marks in exams. His results have not improved, despite enrolling him in extra classes and paying an extra amount to the school,” said the mother. “The classes are compulsory for everyone, so we have to send him to the classes.”
Despite being located far from the city, his school charges a monthly fee of Rs2,000 for regular classes and Rs2,400 for extra classes.
“Extra classes” of late have become a fad, with most private schools imposing them saying students, especially the ninth and tenth graders, must attend them if they want to score well.
And some private schools even charge up to Rs 10,000 per month for extra classes.
A snap survey by the Post showed rates varied depending on the popularity of the private schools.
Sujan’s case is just one of several such cases.
Experts say extra classes besides regular classes have resulted in unwanted stress and anxiety among the pupils who are forced to spend their maximum time in school, studying.
“Even parents do not hesitate to pay exorbitant fees to schools, as it concerns their children’s education,” said Professor Bidya Nath Koirala, an educationist. “Many enrol their children to extra classes and tuitions in the hope it will enhance their academic performance.”
According to Koirala, extra classes are normally an extension of the school hours, which makes things very uncomfortable and tiring for the students.
“They are actually a waste of time and resources for both teachers and their students,” said Koirala.
Out of six random schools in Kathmandu which the Post contacted, all were running extra classes and many of them were running classes from the eighth grade.
“Extra classes are also the reason why school education in Nepal is getting more and more expensive with each passing year. Most of the privately owned schools, where a large number of students are enrolled at for their supposedly high-quality education, charge fees as per their wishes in the name of extra classes,” said Koirala. “Running extra classes has become an easy way for schools to earn more money from the parents. It’s kind of a business nowadays.”
The principal of Sujan’s school told the Post that often the parents themselves do not have time for their children to take care of their activities. “Parents forcefully want their children to attend extra classes, as they think special attention in extra classes may be helpful in improving their grades.”
According to Prabhakar Pokhrel, a psychologist at Kist Medical College, studying, in general, is not considered a bad thing, but studying too much can lead to serious health problems, including stress and social alienation.
“Studying too much can actually have the opposite effect, causing students to become distracted due to increased stress,” said Pokhrel. “Students might suffer from health problems such as depression and sleep deprivation due to academic stress and lack of balance in their lives.”