Private tutoring (PT) is understood as fee-based instruction in academic school subjects that is complementary to instruction mainstream schools provide free of charge. Several studies confirm that PT has become a wide-spread phenomenon across the world. Besides countries in East Asia, where PT was historically rooted and is still omnipresent, it has also become associated with educational systems in countries of different size, quality of educational systems, level of economic development, political institutions, or geographical locations. Its presence, importance and scope have become so prevalent that in some countries spending on private tutoring has become almost comparable to spending on the formal public education system. Research has indicated that PT is also widely spread in Central and Eastern European countries.
To get a better overview of the situation in Estonia, a case study was carried out. Its main conclusions are:
- Similar to many other countries, private tutoring is a well-known phenomenon in Estonian education.
- Private tutoring occurs most often in difficult subjects like Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.
- Private tutoring is needed because not all pupils are able to keep up with the rhythm of work at schools.
- Tests and examinations have also created a demand for additional help and assistance.
- Structures of remedial teaching at schools do not always fulfil their functions. Hence, private tutors are needed for providing extra help.
- Gaps in teacher education also seem to have given rise to private tutoring.
- The lack of functioning communication channels between schools and homes have contributed to using outside helpers.
- Parental expectations regarding schools reflect a clientelistic view that knowledge can be bought.
- Private tutoring compensates for irresponsibility on the side of the pupils.
- The need for private tutoring can be reduced by using current resources more effectively.
The project was continued with a comparative analysis, where different aspects of PT in several countries were delved into. Some questions that answers were looked for were why people decide to use PT, what role do the teachers and parents play in connection to PT, how does the background of students affect using PT, and how does PT affect students’ access to education.
More detailed information can be found in the report of the first analysis as well as in the book published on the second one.