What Parents Should Know About Extramural Classes

By Gloria Ibesi

Most parents in Nigeria entertain the idea of extramural classes as a means of helping their children improve in their academic performance and rise above their equals. For many, it is a thing to be proud of that they could afford to register their children for one. Others see it as a way of making up for teachers’ inefficiency in schools. This piece is not basically against extramural classes but against some seemingly hidden ills that have been birthed as a result of it, especially as it pertains to Nursery, Primary and Secondary School children.

His Lordship, Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor in one of his sermons opined that if one trains a child only to be academically intelligent, the child may end up as an intelligent criminal.

Let me expose you more to this concept of Extramural classes. They are tutorials that take place outside the normal school routine and environment and which students pay extra fees aside school fees to participate in. They are either held at organized centres, teacher’s or student’s residence as the case may be.  Another issue about extramural classes which is the major reason for my contention is that often times, it is organized by teachers for the same students who they have already been paid by the school management to teach.

Some people may argue that extramural classes was designed to assist students with low IQ or low learning ability, who may not understand when they are being taught alongside other students in class and who may  require extra efforts from a teacher to catch on.

Nonetheless, here is my own experience. This happened  sometime ago during my secondary school days. A teacher in my school, Aunty A (not real name) was assigned to our class to take us on Mathematics. Now Aunty A has a lesson centre where she organizes extramural classes or what some call extra lessons, on the same subject she teaches us.

What do I have against Aunty A? Aunty A comes to class sometimes after half of the period she was supposed to take us on Mathematics was gone. When she finally enters the class, she introduces a topic and then spends most of the time in between the class period either telling us funny stories, giving motivational speeches or even looking for students who are not properly dressed to punish.

She never minds whether she has done justice to the topic she has introduced or at least covered the topic to a reasonable extent for a lesson period. When the bell goes for change of lesson, she quickly concludes and leaves.

Oh! I forgot to tell you that she also uses her class periods to advertise her lesson centre. Her  technique was teaching her ‘special students’ (our class mates that have already enrolled in the lesson) ahead of the us (not enrolled) at her lesson centre. When she comes to class and introduces the same topic, she starts asking questions and of course, only her ‘special students’ could answer.

She gives class works on topics she had barely taught which only her lesson students could solve. She singles them out and praises them and then tells the rest of us to come to lesson. She often jumps some topics in the scheme of work or abandons them halfway and goes to the next.

As young as I was then, I am not sure I understood those actions like I do now as her tricks of getting people to enroll in the extramural lesson she organizes but my little sense of justice told me then, that her actions were not fair. For some of us including myself that refused to enroll, she strictly warned her special students never to share their notes or anything she has taught them with us.

Was Aunty A good in teaching? Yes. She was quite skilled at it. She also had this jovial character which attracted her the admiration of many students including the ones she was not teaching. And Yeah! She achieved her aim of increasing the number of students in her lesson centre and I’m sure she made a lot of money.

Many students who were able to convince their parents to pay for the extra lessons enrolled and they always scored higher than others who do not attend the lesson. At some point, a  rumor among our class mates had it that she favoured them with extra marks and revealed exam and test questions to them before the exam day and this was evident because even the dullest students among them performed much better than any of us who were not attending the extra lessons. Now, what is my point? She sidesteps teaching us appropriately in class to make us come acquire the same knowledge at extra cost in her lesson centre.

Talking about the harmful effects of extra mural classes which are yet to be seen by many parents, my experience made me understand that most teachers organize extramural classes for selfish gains more than to assist the students. Nowadays, many schools, especially private schools do not dismiss until 5pm.

One may wonder: Is it that the brains recently created by God are duller or inferior that they cannot pass with normal school routines without extra lessons? Why are schools unnecessarily stressing children in the name of academics? Parents are made to pay extra fees asides the tuition fees for their children to spend extra time in school.

Some people may want to blame it on the poor state of Nigerian’s economy, unemployment rate, hardships  and struggles for survival happening in the country. But I choose to perceive it from the angle of parents being fooled and some others, dodging their parental duties while burdening their children with unnecessary loads. This is in addition to the fact that some  dubious teachers impose this lessons on students in order to make extra and illegal earnings.

Bishop Ezeokafor in his argument stated that during his own days, there were no extramural classes and yet students passed excellently and became successful and productive members of society just like himself. He noted that some parents employed extramural classes to cover up their responsibilities towards their children and thereby fail to raise children with good moral background.

Most children who are unable to learn alongside other students need closer attention and changed approach to teaching other than longer hours of academic exercises. Some of them need to be psychologically studied and understood to know what their problems really are as a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder may not be able to cope in class with normal students because they conceive things differently.

Some extramural classes rather disorient the student instead of helping or upgrade their performances. This is ascribable to the fact that some of the teachers employed to tutor students in lesson centers are inexperienced and are barely under any supervision to do the job well.

The emergence of special centres where students are aided to achieve excellent results in external examinations especially O levels, have been ascribed to some extramural lesson centres. The organizers encourage students to pull out from their schools and register the exams with them where they are later admitted in a certain school and supplied with answers during exams after liaising with some corrupt exam officers.

Some children had also been sexually assaulted or acquired bad habits from peers due to the periods they spend outside the home or  school to attend lessons under little or no supervision.

As stated earlier, this write up is no generally against extramural classes or extra lessons but only tries to expose the fact that just like some lazy parents are willing to enroll their kindergarten children into boarding schools to flee from their parental responsibilities, some parents send their children to extra lesson so as to dodge their duties as parents towards their children.

Let us also remember that teaching is not meant for professional teachers alone. Parents should also be teachers to their children. They can take their children on extra lessons during their free time which will always be a different and perhaps better experience for the children. Parents should try to imbibe the culture of reading and self study in their children.

In conclusion, the children should also be made to experience or learn other things asides academics such as culture, morals and the church’s teaching, so as to be balanced and productive members of society. And may I also remind us that too much academics loads, lessons upon lessons, do not make a child brilliant. It is not quantity of learning but quality of learning.

Gloria Ibesi, a staff member of Fides, writes from Awka.