Manama: Kuwaiti authorities are taking legal measures against 13 people for giving private tuition to students in cafés.

A team from the manpower authority discovered the illegal activities during an inspection tour.

Eight of the people are employees in the public sector, four in the private sector and one who was not supposed to take up any job in Kuwait, Mohammad Al Dhufairi, the head of the team, said. 

The news triggered public concern about how far students and tutors would go to secure private lessons despite a ban imposed by the education ministry.

In 2014, the ministry stressed that it was against any form of private tuition, arguing that private lessons discouraged students from working harder to achieve good results and pass the grade. 

The ministry also highlighted that private tuition was a financial burden on families and that resources were being drained.

In 2014, a university lecturer warned that the booming of private tuition had grave social and economic implications.

“The problem of add-on education has moved up from high schools to universities and the phenomenon is increasing,” Ghazi Al Rashidi, a professor at the University of Kuwait, said. “Students now pay up to KD150 (Dh1,950) for one hour of private tuition and tutors are making fortunes, raking in up to KD500 (Dh6,500) a day or KD15,000 (Dh195,000) a month.”

Guided by the belief that they cannot pass their end of the year exams without assistance from private tutors, students have been rushing to ensure they are included in small study groups if they cannot have individual tutoring. For parents keen on the success of their sons and daughters, private tuition has become the default option.

“This has created a new culture. Today, several university teachers are booking tables in restaurants and high-class cafés in Kuwait City for the private courses. Most courses cost KD150 (Dh1,950) per hour, so tutors who spend six hours a day giving private lessons make KD900 (Dh11,720) day in day out,” Al Rashidi said. “In one case, a teacher made KD1,000 (Dh13,000) in one day of private tuition. Should he continue doing this, he will be a millionaire within two years.”

The financial onslaught is extremely heavy on families and the situation could be compounded in the future, he warned.

“During exam days, families have to put aside more than KD800 (Dh10,400) to finance the private courses, especially that the tuition is no longer limited to science subjects. This phenomenon is now turning into a general culture in Kuwait as parents seem helpless and the authorities are lapsing into silence,” he said.

“Private tuition is in fact a black market where parents and students are pushed in order to secure success. Teachers are of course taking full advantage of the situation, seeking to make easy gains in the shortest time possible. All this is a clear indication of deficiencies in the educational system in Kuwait,” he said.

Al Rashidi added that the social and economic consequences were far too important to be ignored and stressed the need “to stop this haemorrhage and prevent education from turning into a way to make easy money by selling the illusion of success to students and compromise their future.”