By Adrie Schoeman

Managing Director of Master Maths.

We live in a very competitive world. Mathematics and physical science are central to many different careers, including engineering, medicine and economics. Because of this, there is a great emphasis for learners to do well at these subjects at school. Every year, the Grade 12 results are released and leave everyone wondering about the effectiveness of the education system. Finding academic help for maths and physical science to support your  child can be an answer to this problem.

Tuition is not a new service and is not limited to South Africa. Master Maths itself has been operating since 1976, and we have seen that the need for help with maths has increased sharply, especially in the last few years. France and Germany were spending more than three billion euros a year in 2011. This amount has definitely increased since then.

Sadly, the public is faced with a problem regarding tuition. There is no quality assurance process or monitoring body in South Africa that can assure that you receive the highest quality tuition. We cannot speak on behalf of other institutions, but for Master Maths and Master Science, the lack of formal quality control is a concern for us. We can only trust and hope that organisations, such as UMALUSI, will be able to find avenues whereby each person or company who offers these services will be forced to apply for accreditation. In our opinion, this cannot happen fast enough!

So, for now, the responsibility of finding out about whether or not a tuition service is credible falls to you: the parent. Extra lessons are expensive. So before you find yourself dealing with someone who is just out to put some extra money in their pockets, think about what works for you and your child. You deserve the best you can find from this service, and value for your money.

To help, we have put together some guidelines for you to use while looking for the right tuition service:

  • Take immediate action when you are alerted to a problem with your child’s academics. In our experience, these problems never just “go away”.
  • Companies use advertising as a tool to work on your emotions and concerns. Many of these companies also make unrealistic promises which are impossible to keep. Be aware of promises like “Guaranteed 20% increase in results”. Each child is different and needs different amounts of time practicing the subject to be able to see results.
  • When a company lists all of their “accreditations” (as we have just said, there are none) or other foundations and companies they are associated with, double check this. Some companies try to ride to coat-tails of other companies’ reputations and will not be able to deliver a quality service.
  • Do your research to make sure that the service you are interested in has a proven track record.
  • You have every right to ask questions about the product, the programme that the company follows, how assessment works and how often you can expect feedback. These are important concerns.
  • Ask yourself: Does this company use a structured training programme that can be adjusted to be specific to my child’s needs? Each child is different and has different deficits in that need to be focused on.
  • Realise that your child does not only need help with the classwork they are currently busy with. Often we find that learners may need help filling in gaps and mastering certain basic skills before they can start work on grade-level skills. Make sure the service you pick can offer exactly what your child needs.
  • Find out more about the tutors. Ask for their qualifications and their work experience. Just because someone is well versed in a certain subject, does not mean that they are able to transfer their knowledge to someone else in a way that the learner can understand.
  • The most important aspect to find out about is how often you will receive feedback about your child’s progress. You need to be kept in the loop as to how your child is faring.

We hope that these guidelines help you to choose a tuition service that is best for your child. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us here.

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