It’s no secret that academic performance and the quality of the school experience has been on the decline in Botswana.
Many parents are worried about their children’s future based on their performance now. And many students are finding it harder to be motivated and enjoy their schools years.
We had a chat with Thobo Khathola from Lion Tutoring Botswana. He’s set up tutoring centres all across Botswana, and in South Africa, and asked him about the benefits of a private tutor. And how private tutors can help students improve their test and exam results.
What Got You Into Private Tutoring?
I started tutoring when I was a student myself. My parents were paying for my university tuition. To help them with the tuition fees and to cover my living expenses, I started tutoring. This turned into a passion each time a student’s eyes would light up as they grasped what I was teaching them.
After graduating as an Economist and making my return to Botswana, I noticed how great the need for private tutoring was. So I launched Lion Tutoring offering tutoring at home from qualified tutors. This was a game-changer in tutoring and improving the learning experience in Botswana.
Below are the five main challenges students face in Botswana. As well as how a private tutor can help improve a student’s learning experience, academic confidence and their test results.
1. One-On-One Teaching
The teacher to student ratio in both public and private schools is high. Every student has different ways of learning and understanding.
In a classroom setting, a short time’s allocated per subject. While teachers do their best it’s a hard task to give attention to each student.
The one-to-one experience a private tutor provides helps to deepen the students understanding. According to their unique learning skills. This comes in handy at university, where there are more students in lectures and each lecture covers more teaching material in a short time.
We also understand that some students prefer a more discussion-based approach to learning. We have a shared cost package that’s cheaper for parents and exciting as a group study. The teacher-to-student ratio remains low, while the group study experience remains an option.
A private tutor’s job is to support the student’s learning experience in the classroom. We train our private tutors to ask the student what the teacher said in the classroom and use the same approach the teacher used. This is important to avoid confusing the student. At the end of the day, the student’s learning experience and improving their grades is a shared goal between the teacher and a private tutor.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
We noticed that with some students – it wasn’t that they didn’t understand what they were learning – but they weren’t getting the amount of practice they needed. We’ve adopted the motto, “practice makes perfect” because it’s true in learning and getting better marks. Even when a student’s a fast learner. They may be able to grasp the concepts, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be prepared for the tricks that come up in exams.
We spend 50% of tutoring time tackling the school syllabus. The rest of the time is spent on revision. Because the school syllabus is constantly changing, we make sure to source the most recent and relevant past exam papers for practice.
This has helped both homeschooled and formally educated students to better prepare for exams. This is one of the reasons why our students end up doing so well in exams.
3. A Relatable, Reassuring Voice When Needed
In many school settings, there’s usually a huge age gap between the teacher and the student. Which may affect the student-teacher interaction and how they understand each other. Also back to the high student-to-teacher ratio, not every student gets one-on-one attention.
We have vibrant tutors, close to the age of the students. Our young tutors are able to act as older brothers and sisters who can be a voice of reassurance when it’s needed. And can understand any distractions a student may be facing.
4. Qualifications And Experience For All Types Of Learning Needs
The magic in private tutoring happens when the student finds the right tutor. In schools, students don’t have a choice with who gets to teach them. This is why we created an App, that has profiles for our tutors. Students can view the tutor’s location, check their reviews, ratings and qualifications. Then parents and students can chat through a tutor they like.
It’s important to match the tutor’s experience and qualification to the needs of the student. We had a student who had a learning disability where they couldn’t read in black and white. I did my research on the condition and they were matched with a tutor with the right qualifications. The student’s grade improved by 15% in less than two months. They were able to pass their entrance exam into a formal school.
In private tutoring, each student is treated as an individual and their unique learning needs are met. Especially important for students with special needs such as epilepsy, autism and other learning challenges.
5. Safety During Covid-19
Online learning has become a necessity because of Covid-19. This has also affected us as private tutors as we experienced a 2% decline in our pass rate from 96% in 2019 to 94.4% in 2020. Thankfully we managed to stay above the 90 percentile.
This also applies to our international students. We cover the South African syllabus, and a student of ours in Canada experienced a 6-7% increase in their pass rate in 2020 despite the many challenges.
All our centres have Covid-19 screening that our tutors adhere to. To keep our staff and students safe at the centre and families safe at home. We practice social distancing at the centres and now students are not allowed to linger around. Because of our low student to tutor ratio, classes are not overly populated.
Thank you Thobo Khathola for answering all our questions.
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