Luxury Expenses of Shadow Education: A Comparative Study of Iranian Students, Parents and Teachers’ Views

Document Type : Original Article


1 ِDepartment Of Education, University of Kurdisatn, Sanandaj, Iran

2 , Department of English, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of English Language Arak University

4 University of Kurdiatn, Sanndaj, Iran

5 Department of Education ,University of Kurdistan, Sannadaj, Iran


The purpose of present research was investigating factors and attitudes affecting participation in private touring classes. A descriptive survey method with a quantitative approach was used. The participants were selected from three   groups: high school students, their teachers and parents. Using a stratified random sampling method, 900 individuals were selected as samples. Based on the findings of the study, English, math, and sciences   were the most used subjects for private supplementary tutoring. Research findings revealed that parents with higher incomes are more likely to send their children to private tutoring classes.   From the views of teachers and parents, the main goals of participating in private tutoring classes for students are to better understand the subjects and improve their performance in the exams and national tests. Most teachers and students acknowledged the effectiveness of private tutoring. Although parents and teachers noticed that a combination of factors contributed to the demand for private supplementary tutoring of students, their ratings were significantly different from what the students rated. Private tutoring, like helping the students with their homework, is one of the options parents may consider when they want to value and respond to the demands of their children for additional support and resources available within the family. Although Ministry of Education as the main administrator should monitor the activities of such centers, it does not appear to be very successful in practice. 


Article Title [Persian]

هزینه های لوکس آموزش سایه: مطالعۀ تطبیقی دیدگاه های دانش آموزان، والدین و معلمان ایرانی

Authors [Persian]

  • ناصر شیربگی 1
  • جعفر افشین فر 2
  • روژین قصلانی 3
  • شراره صادقی 4
  • شهاب نصیری نیا 5
1 کردستان -سنندج- دانشگاه کردستان- گروه علوم تربیتی
2 گروه زبان انگلیسی، دانشگاه پیام نور، تهران - ایران
3 گروه اموزش زبان انگلیسی، دانشگاه اراک
4 گروه علوم تربیتی، دانشگاه کردستان- سنندج
5 گروه علوم تربیتی، دانشگاه کردستان- سنندج
Abstract [Persian]

هدف از پژوهش حاضر، بررسی عوامل و نگرش های مؤثر بر مشارکت در کلاس های خصوصی تکمیلی بود. پژوهش با رویکرد تطبیقی و کمّی و با روش توصیفی پیمایشی انجام شد. شرکت کنندگان از سه گروه  اصلی دانش آموزان دبیرستانی، معلمان و والدین دانش آموزان انتخاب شدند. درمجموع 900 نفر به روش نمونه گیری تصادفی طبقه ای انتخاب شدند. براساس یافته های مطالعه، دروس زبان انگلیسی، ریاضی و علوم (فیزیک، شیمی و زیست شناسی) بیشترین استفاده را برای تدریس تکمیلی خصوصی داشتند. یافته های تحقیق نشان داد والدین با درآمد بالاتر احتمال بیشتری دارد فرزندان خود را به کلاس های تدریس خصوصی بفرستند. از دیدگاه معلمان و والدین ، ​​اهداف اصلی شرکت در کلاس های تدریس خصوصی برای دانش آموزان، درک بهتر موضوعات و بهبود عملکرد آنها در امتحانات و آزمون های سراسری است. بیشتر معلمان و دانش آموزان به اثربخشی تدریس خصوصی اذعان داشتند. اگرچه والدین و معلمان متوجه شدند که ترکیبی از عوامل به تقاضای تدریس تکمیلی خصوصی دانش آموزان کمک می کند، اما رتبه بندی آنها با رتبه بندی دانش آموزان تفاوت معنی داری داشت. تدریس خصوصی تکمیلی، مانند کمک به دانش آموزان در انجام تکالیفشان، یکی از گزینه هایی است که والدین می توانند  در هنگام ارزش گذاری و پاسخگویی به خواسته های فرزندانشان آن را برای پشتیبانی بیشتر و استفاده از منابع موجود در خانواده، در نظر بگیرند. اگرچه حوزه مدیریت مشارکت های مردمی و مدارس غیر انتفاغی  وزارت آموزش و پرورش به عنوان متولی اصلی باید فعالیت های چنین مراکزی  را تحت نظر داشته باشد، اما به نظر نمی رسد در عمل چندان موفق نبوده است.

Keywords [Persian]

  • تدریس خصوصی تکمیلی
  • نظام آموزشی ایران
  • آموزش سایه ای
  • معلم خصوصی


Tutoring is a long-established phenomenon that roots in many cultures, from countries in the Western Asia to their counterparts in Western Europe. According to Topping (2000) this was a common practice in the Greece and ancient Rome, and its history can be found in the old texts. The development of private tutoring amongst different communities in the past centuries had a lot of ups and downs. Private tutoring has been defined in a variety of ways by different scholars. Topping (2000) defines tutoring as “those who are not professional teachers but help and support other people to learn something in an interactive and purposeful manner” (P.7). In the most common form, tutoring is done mutually; parents, senior students or volunteers may also be involved in this process. Nowadays, because of ease of access to education, private supplementary tutoring has become a relatively pervasive phenomenon (Topping, 2000)  

According to Bray (1999), all around the world, when the school bell rings, the training of millions of students is not over and many of them regardless of the break time are privately educated. Some do not even go out of their school yard and continue private tutoring at the same school and perhaps in the same class by their own teacher. Also, many of the students on weekends or other public holidays may participate in private tutoring classes. Private supplementary tutoring is primarily referred to “the teaching of additional post-school lessons” (Ysunendu, 1995, p. 75). Marimuthu et al., (1991) define it as “learning activities for formal school students outside the regular school curriculum, which may be provided by tuition or free of charge as a social service"(p1). From this definition, there would be two separate perceptions: In the first perception, the emphasis is on the financial aspect of private tutoring; hence, this is done by teachers for the purpose of gaining more income. In the second perception, private tutoring is free and is humanitarian, social, and praiseworthy.

In the present research, private supplementary tutoring is considered as additional preparation for students in academic subjects, which is practiced outside the school hours and for the purpose of obtaining more salary (Bray, 1999). In addition, academic subjects are meant to be mathematics, foreign language, physics and chemistry, and do not include extracurricular subjects such as football and theater, or sub-courses provided by teachers or family members based on their request. Private tutoring may be done individually at the teacher or student's home, in group mode and in larger classes or by post, telephone or even the internet. The extent of private tutoring can be varied from one class to another and it may be more necessary in some areas than others.

In some countries, parents, teachers and policymakers intensely criticize this process because, although the private supplementary tutoring can have positive outcomes such as improving student learning, providing productive activities for them at hours out of school and generating income and occupation for teachers, it may cause negative outcomes such as disturbances in formal curricula, pressures on younger students, aggravation of social inequalities, and students abuse of teachers (Bray, 1999). Some kind of exploitation can occur, particularly in a situation where formal teachers provide private-funded education for their students after school hours. In the worst case, this is a kind of bribing in which teachers teach just half of the curriculum during formal hours, and then they want students to take part in private classes for the other half and pay their remuneration. On a more positive side, it could be argued that private tutoring can be considered as a mechanism by which students increase their learning and gain more spiritual capital. Therefore, they not only act for the benefit of themselves, but also for the higher societies to which they belong. Private tutoring can help reduce the burden on teachers and help students learn the formal materials provided at the school officially (Bray, 1999). In addition, private tutoring for planners is not only a sign of the demands of some classes of the society, but also is indicative of activities that people pay for them.

Forces that give rise to this growing private supplementary tutoring will be different in distinguishing situations. For example, in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, an important factor can be the inadequate level of teachers' salaries that compel them to find additional income for the livelihoods of their families. In contrast, teachers in Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Singapore have relatively good salaries and the main incentives for them include the competitive nature of community and the amount of rewards that can be obtained for new generations by investing in private tutoring. In the United States and the United Kingdom, private tutoring in some cases is a response to government initiatives to make schools more competitive and raise standards for low income teachers. Ultimately in Uganda and Malawi, this issue is related to the perceptions regarding deficiencies and lack of quality in relevant educational systems (Bray, 2010).

According to Foondun (2002), factors that affect the demand for private supplementary tutoring include: employment in famous educational centers, inefficient teaching-learning processes, overcrowded classes, and peer pressure. On the other hand, some factors influencing the supply of private tutoring by teachers includes low salary and privilege, teacher reputation and colleagues’ pressure. Therefore, the supply and demand factors can strengthen each other and create a real market for more teaching and training of students.

Despite the unplanned extension and consequences of private supplementary tutoring for students, parents and teachers, unfortunately, so far, there has not been much attention from scholars and educational planners towards this phenomenon.  This is partly due to the fact that a small number of planners and policymakers can obtain necessary information about the status of private tutoring because it goes beyond the access of the information systems of governments. Tutors often do not want to announce their income, and families may be reluctant to mention their reasons for receiving private tutoring and their paying fees. For this reason, its teaching-learning processes are not subject to government supervision and many government officials prefer not to examine private tutoring, because it is a complex area that may impose responsibility on them. Thus, researchers are not able to obtain information about such kind of activities that happen behind closed doors. In sum, as Bray (2010) also points out, the issue of private tutoring seems to be of little importance for educational systems and social transformations and its consequences are not much considered.

 A Glance at Iran Education System

Based on UNDP’s Human Development report[1] (2016) total population of Iran is 79.1 million with expected year of schooling average 14.8.  Iran’s education system was completely centralized in the initial years following the 1979 revolution. In 1986, some decentralization was brought by a Law on Formation of Educational Councils in provinces, cities and districts (UNESCO, 2000). Each province, city and district has an education organization responsible for local administration. The Ministry of Education retains its supervision through these organizations, but local personnel have some authority for planning, financing and administrating schools.

 In the past, Iran had a 6+3+3 model of primary, middle and upper secondary schooling. Recently this model has changed to a 6+6 model of primary and secondary levels. When a pupil reaches grade 7th, the sensitivity of parents usually increases because students are sorted into different types of schools according to their examination performance in the core subjects of mathematics, sciences, language and literature. In 10th grade of secondary education, there are three main branches, i.e. theoretical, vocational and technical. Usually the high achievers go to theoretical schools. Again, there is a highly competitive environment among students, especially in Grade 12 to prepare for the tough national university entrance examination known as Konkur. At all levels, schools are segregated for boys and girls. In general, teachers' arrangement also follows the gender division i.e. male teachers for boys’ schools and female teachers for girls’ schools. (Madandar Arani, 2015; Kakia, Popov & Madandar Arani, 2016; Madandar Arani & Kakia, 2018). 

In Iran, private tutoring has always been debated in recent years, and many families and students are not satisfied with the education provided at schools and they need additional training (Khabaronline, 2018).). The fact is that, whether the existence of private institutes in which high school courses in various forms are being taught, may lead to the weakening of formal education system and make teachers and students unconsciously feel that it is undoubtedly necessary to assign some part of the school’s responsibility to these institutions. This issue is to the extent that many students even with weak financial conditions pay hundreds of Dollars to attend such classes.

Recently, a plan has been approved in the Islamic Consultative Assembly (2015) regarding students’ admission to universities. Based on this plan, the Iranian National University Entrance Examination (called Konkur) will be removed in the next five years and students’ academic background will be the basis for their selection to the universities. In this plan, it has been predicted that, 85% of the universities’ capacity will be based on the students’ academic background and the remaining 15% will be filled through holding the entrance exam. It seems that increasing educational justice and decreasing students’ stress and anxiety are the consequences of this plan (The Education Commission of Islamic Consultative Assembly Research Center, ECICARC, 2015). However, the opponents believe that by implementing this plan applicants` competition will be intensified in order to reach 15% of the highly demanding fields and it will be more difficult. Moreover, neither the activity of private institutes for Konkur preparation is restricted by the implementation of this law, nor the volume of their advertisements decreases (ECICARC, 2015). Therefore, they believe that this plan neither contribute to educational justice, nor increases the opportunity of applicants for free education and educational justice. Given this, it has been observed that by implementing this plan, there is no reduction in the level of families and students` stress and concern about Konkur.

Private Supplementary Tutoring Institution in Iran

In order to increase people's participation in education and to support investment in the establishment and operation of schools and nongovernmental educational centers, the Organization of Nongovernmental Schools was established by the Ministry of Education.


Table 1: Distribution of Private Tutoring Centers across Provinces in Iran



N of Foreign Languages Centers

N. of Academic Centers

Total N of



East Azarbaijan





Western Azerbaijan



































Tehran (cities)





Chaharmahal & Bakhtiari





southern Khorasan





Khorasan Razavi





North Khorasan




















Sistan &Baluchestan



































Kohgiloyeh & Boyerahmad
















































Source: Iranian Ministry of Education (2018)


In this organization, the responsibilities and powers of the Central Policy and Monitoring Council were determined based on the administration of nongovernmental schools and training centers and establishing any educational institution for further private supplementary teaching should be licensed to this organization. Based on the latest statistics obtained from this organization, it has been revealed that the organization has received official accreditation from nearly 16,000 formal private institutions across Iran. Table 1 shows the distribution list of these institutions by province. The greatest number of these institutions are located in Tehran province (N=2235) and the lowest number belongs to the North Khorasan province (N=141).


Expenses of shadow education in Iran

Unlicensed private tutoring institutes with colorful and seductive advertisements are the main problems that have challenged the Iranian educational system (Entekhab, 2017). Unfortunately, their advertising center is the mass media, which illegally advertises the extensive application of educational CDs and tests. Currently, thousands of private academic institutions operate all over the country. There are about 500000 students at all levels of education in such institutes, and their programs don’t interfere with the formal programs in public and non-for-profit schools (The Education Commission of Islamic Parliament Research Center, 2015).  According to this investigation, the number of students in the fourth grade of high school is 404352 this year.  So, if all of these students use the services of private institutes, they will pay about 900 milliard Tomans[2] (2,570,000US$), which is generally spent for the tuition fees of instructors, rental of educational property, employee insurance, and other expenses during the school year (Ministry of Education, 2018).

The most famous institutes of these kinds are in the capital, Tehran, which have branches in smaller cities. Ten of the most famous centers that are involved in private tutoring and the publication of educational CDs and books are: Ghalamchi, Gaj. Gozine 2, Haft Ostad, Alavi, Parse, Mahan, Mobtakeran, Fazel and Venus. Three of these institutes are introduced concisely below:

Kanon Farhangi Amozesh (Ghalamchi): This institutes offers a wide range of educational products and services such as bi-weekly exams, private tutoring and books to 450,000 students all around the country who are competing in Konkur for university seats. In 1993, Ghalamchi held its first exam with about 100 students in a high school in Tehran. Soon after, this service proved to be extremely popular, and its rapid expansion around Iran and also the diversification of its services towards providing educational books, customized planning and personal tutoring was encouraged. These services were designed to allow students to evaluate their performance nationally through different periods in order to show them where and how they could improve their learning. One of the iconic attributes of Ghalamchi’s publishing is its classified educational books, which are branded in different colors (Kanon Farhangi Amozesh, 2018).

 Joukar Educational Group (Gaj): This educational and publishing center, aims at meeting students’ educational needs with a high quality by offering a variety of services such as global tests, educational apps, books and so on. The gourmet website consists of three main sections of the book, the exam and the apps. In the book section, one can order his/her required books with special discounts and subsequently receive them at home. In the exam section, there are also the requirements for applicants of Gaj, and in the apps section, students can also download free training apps and learn lessons faster and easier (Joukar Educational Group, 2018).

Venues: Venus institute has been able to design and produce the oral and visual educational DVD of all the textbooks for all grades of high school. In addition to the aforementioned educational packages, free expert counseling services are provided to the students during the schooling period. Students can also use special periodicals at different times of the school year including summer and New Year holidays (Venus, 2018).


How is the private tutoring fee calculated?

There are many questions to be asked about this, including how much the actual fee of private tutoring by the teacher or the centers is, or whether the students can rely on these prices. Do low private teacher prices meet students’ needs or do high prices guarantee students' success? It can be observed that in a market where there are many claimants and there are no criteria and benchmarks for evaluating them, so how can we trust the prices of institutes or teachers? Is the education provided our children with really worth these costs? It has been observed that, private teachers whose prices are very different include: mathematic, physics, biology, chemistry, and Arabic. The teachers of this market are at every level, and their commonalities are their desire to teach and earn money in this way. Not long ago, in order to find a private tutor, students and their families had to trust the newspapers advertisement, but nowadays, with the advent of technology this field of cyberspace has come up with a simple search.

In search browsers, students can find huge information on private tutoring, but it seems that it is infinite and disorganized information. Authors believe that the pricing of private tutoring depends on many factors. For example, what does a student expect from a private tutor? What kind of teachers does the candidate like in math and language? Influential factors in private tutoring are presented as follows: Educational level of tutor, Experience and teaching experience of tutor, spacing distance to the applicant, hours and time of the classes, and finally students’ expectation regarding the result.

Teaching experience of tutors in universities has a great influence on the calculation of private tutoring fees. Other factors affecting the price are, for example, teaching during the weekends and night, and in this way, teachers may usually ask for further money.

 In order to obtain the optimal result, the time is one of the most important factors affecting the price. Private teachers have different ways to calculate the price of classes, the most common of which is based on the hours. That means a fixed price per hour of teaching. Another type of calculation is based on holding sessions, which is usually one and half hour for each person with fixed price for each session permanently. Some private tutors work in a project - a commitment to teach a certain amount of syllabus. One of the reasons of holding online classes is to moderate many of the above factors such as the distance or class time and in this way the costs of online classes can be reduced up to 30 percent. The large amount of private tutoring institutes’ turnover has created some problems and concerns for Iranian educational system. However, the responsible organizations for supervising such institutes are those which issue licenses such as the Ministry of Education. Unfortunately, in the process of issuing licenses, there is not enough supervision on the activities of private institutes (Entekhab, 2017)


 Aims of the Study

The purpose of present research was twofold: First, presenting some information about private supplementary tutoring by describing the nature, content and scope of supplementary tutoring in Iran. Second, investigating cultural factors and attitudes affecting participation in private tutoring. Given these issues, the following research questions were developed:

 1. What are the content, duration and severity of private supplementary tutoring in the subjects of the curriculum?

2. What are the values, attitudes and motivations for participating in private supplementary tutoring?

3. Is there any significant difference in students’ level of participation in supplementary teaching programs regarding their demographic factors?


Research Method

In the present study, a descriptive survey method with a quantitative approach was used.


Field of study and sampling method

In most of the studies conducted in the area of shadow education, three potential references are primarily employed: students who receive private tutoring, parents, and ultimately, private tutors. One of the significant factors in collecting data from students is related to their age. Hence, the lower the age of the students, the lower their level of accurate information and prediction (Bray, 2010). Therefore, the participants of this study were selected from three distinct groups: high school students, teachers and parents from Sanandj city, in the west of Iran. Using a stratified random sampling method, the researchers selected 900 individuals (300 participants from each of the above groups).



Three questionnaires adapted from Ireson and Rushforth (2005) and Silova, Budiene and Bray (2006), were selected as the main instruments. Eight items were similar in all three groups. The selected questionnaires were translated from English to Farsi by an associate professor of English Language. The Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was used to assess the internal consistency of the questionnaires. For all of the questionnaires, the reliability coefficient was at the desired level above 0.70.


Table 2: Statistics of research questionnaires



N. of Items


N. of Respondents

Students’ Questionnaire




Parents’ Questionnaire




Teachers’ Questionnaire





Students’ Questionnaire: The main objective was to provide students with information regarding the nature, extent, and intensity of the private tutoring which they received, as well as the reasons for having or not having a private tutor and its advantages and disadvantages.

Parents’ Questionnaire: It was used in order to obtain information about the nature and extent of private supplementary tutoring provided for their children, the reasons for providing or not providing supplementary tutoring for their children, and assessment of received teaching.

Teachers’ Questionnaire: It should be mentioned that items in Teachers’ Questionnaire were the same as those in Parents’ Questionnaire.

At the beginning of these instruments the respondents in the target groups were required to provide their demographic information. Since the establishment of a trusting atmosphere for collecting information from students was assumed to be of high significance, a group of graduate students in the field of Educational Management (B.A. Level) who had passed their practicing teacher preparation course (practicum) under the supervision of the corresponding author of this paper and who had been fully briefed, were selected in the process of distributing and collecting research questionnaires. These students had full confidence in the researchers, and in turn, they were able to build the participants` trust during their classroom sessions.


Data Analysis

The most important findings from the analysis of data in relation to the main research questions are presented using descriptive and inferential statistics:

Research Question 1: What is the content, duration, and severity of private supplementary tutoring in the subjects of the curriculum? Information regarding these items was obtained from the participants` answers to the “student questionnaire”.

  • Content: Students were asked to specify titles for which they attended private tutoring classes. Percentage of responses to this question was as follows: English language (32%), Mathematics (30%), Physics (17%), Chemistry (11%), Biology and Arabic language (about 5%).
  • Duration:  students were asked if they had ever had a private tutor. From the total 279 students who completed the questionnaires, 61.3% (171 students) declared that they had had a private tutor. Among them, 21.9% used private supplementary tutoring just for one year, 13.3%27 for two years, 41.2% for three years, and 16% for four years and more. However, more than half of them used private tutoring classes for more than two academic grades. Students were asked also to indicate whether they had participated in private class during the summer, in addition to the school year. Their responses illustrated that 62% (107 students) attended private tutoring classes during the summer. Finally, the students were asked if their private supplementary tutoring classes were at home. Only 13% (23 students) declared that their private tutoring classes were also held at home.
  • Severity: Students were asked to specify the total hours they had spent in private tutoring classes per week. Among 171 respondents, 64% indicated that they had private tutoring for more than four hours during a week. In addition, about 20% of students revealed that they had spent three hours per week in private tutoring.

Research Question 2: What are the values, attitudes and motivations for participating in private supplementary tutoring? The purpose of this question was to clarify why students, parents, and teachers chose supplementary tutoring.


Table 3: Students, parents and teachers' reasons for enrolling students in private supplementary tutoring classes







N of Agreement

% of


N of Agreement

% of Agreement

N of Agreement

% of Agreement

A better understanding of the subject matters








Increasing students’ self-esteem








Helping students to obtain higher test scores








Increased assurance of admission in universities








Helping students to perform school tasks








Not receiving adequate school-based support by the student (R***)








Students’ inadequate learning from teachers (R***)








Increasing students’ study time








* At the level of 0.05 is significant.  ** At the level of 0.01 is significant.   *** Reverse items


Firstly, students were asked “who encouraged them to go to private supplementary tutoring classes?” Their responses demonstrated that the most significant factors for encouraging students to participate in these classes were respectively: their relatives (25.2%), teachers (22.6%), classmates (19.3%), and finally, parents (12.8%).

In the next step, a list of major reasons for students’ participation in private supplementary tutoring was presented to all three groups (Table 3).

As shown in Table 3, three of the most important reasons stated by the students were “better understanding of the subject matters, helping students to obtain higher test scores, and increasing students’ self-esteem with a rate of 92.1%, 85.3% and 82.4% respectively.

Parents who completed the questionnaire and provided supplementary tutoring to their children, selected items including “increasing students’ study time, 76%", "increasing students’ self-esteem, 75.2%”; “helping students to obtain higher test scores, 74.4%”, and ultimately “increasing confidence in Konkur admission, 72.2%” as the major reasons.

For teachers who completed the questionnaires, the main reasons for selecting the private supplementary tutoring by student respectively were: “A better understanding of the subject matters, 85.3%”; “Increasing students’ self-esteem, 77.1%”; “Helping student to perform tasks in the school 72%”; and, finally, “helping students to obtain higher test scores, 66.5%”.

A Comparison of the responses demonstrated that in all cases, there is a significant difference in the frequency of the responses of all three groups. Students, more than their parents and teachers, believed that private tutoring would provide a better understanding of the subject matters. Also, students more than other respondent groups believed that private tutoring classes would produce higher test scores. In addition, they acknowledged that they received little support and guidance from the school. On the other hand, parents, less than their children and teachers, believed that private tutoring classes would result in a better performance in school tasks. However, less than the other respondent groups, teachers believed that private tutoring would result in more confidence in Konkur admission and they believed less that these classes would increase the opportunities for study.

For more in-depth investigations and in order to increase the reliability of the viewpoints of teachers and parents of the above items, other items entitled “Reasons for not enrolling students in private tutoring classes” were presented to both groups of parents and teachers. Table 4 shows a comparison of the frequency of parents and teachers’ responses.


Table 4: Parents and Teachers' Reasons for Not Enrolling Students in Private Tutoring Classes






N of Agreement

% of Agreement

N of Agreement

% of Agreement

The high price of private tutoring






Excessive pressure on children through private tutoring






No need for private tutoring due to the provision of extracurricular classes in the school






Difficulty in finding an appropriate private class or a good tutor






Unfair attendance of only some students in private tutoring class






Believing that individuals should develop based on their abilities






The difficulty of coordinating the students’ transport service






  * At the level of 0.05 is significant.     ** At the level of 0.01 is significant.


Table 4 illustrates that there are significant differences between the frequency of parents’ and teachers’ responses in three of the above seven items. Parents mostly believed that in the price of private tutoring classes is high. Also, about half of the parents reported that they do not require private tutoring for their children due to the existence of extracurricular classes in their schools. In comparison to teachers, parents mostly believed that finding an appropriate private tutoring class or a private tutor is difficult.


Table 5: Students` Reasons for Not Enrolling in Private Tutoring Classes










Others make fun of me.








My time is wasted.








I become tired and weary.








I get angry and sad.








We do highly simple tasks that don’t appeal me.








We do have activities that is different form school activities and make me confused.







  ** P is significant at the level of 0.01


In order to investigate the effect of psychological factors on non-participation in supplementary tutoring classes, students who declared that they did not attend private classes were asked to express their viewpoints in the form of six items. Table 5 shows the degree of agreement and ranking of the stated reasons.

As Table 5 demonstrates, the students’ viewpoints were ranked and compared using Friedman test. Friedman’s K2 was statistically significant, indicating that reasons for not attending private tutoring classes were not ranked similarly by the students. The findings showed that the highest average rankings are related to row 1 “others make fun of me”, and row 6 “we do activities that differ from school work and confuse me”.

Research Question 3: Is there a significant difference between students’ participation in supplementary teaching programs based on demographic factors?

Gender: Regarding gender, the number of the girls in the study were 57.5% (160 students) and boys were 43.7% (119). There was a difference between the number of girls and boys who had private tutoring classes. But the results showed that this difference was not statistically significant between girls 59.4% (95) and boys 63.9% (76). (X2=0.58, df=1, P=0.44).

The mean scores of students for the variables of attending private tutoring classes, regarding gender was tested and the results are presented in Table 6.


Table 6: Boy and Girl Students' Participation In Private Tutoring Classes













Reasons for attending classes







The number of years of attending classes







The number of attending classes per week







       * At the level of 0.05 is significant


As Table 6 illustrates, there is no significant difference in the mean of reasons for going to private classes among students with respect to their gender. There were also no differences in the number of hours of attending private tutoring classes between girls and boys. But there were significant differences regarding the number of years of going to the private tutoring classes between girls and boys. The results indicated that average years of attending private tutoring classes for girls are more than boys.

Out of a total number of 279 students who answered the questionnaire, it can be observed that 237 students (85%) were in public schools and 42 students (15%) were in other schools. But this difference was not statistically significant (x2= 0.58, df = 1, P=0.34). In addition, from the total number of students, 103 were in the first grade of high school (36.9%), 87 in the second grade (31.2%) and 89 in the third grade of high school (31.9%). The findings revealed that there were differences in the number of students in the first (61), second (57) and third (53) grades who had private tutors. But this difference was not statistically significant (x2 = 0.95, df = 1, P=.062).

Moreover, the data regarding parents’ educational qualifications was collected from the students’ questionnaire. It was indicated that there was a significant difference between the degree of students’ fathers according to the amount of private tutoring provided (P=0.03, df=3, X2=30.65). In other words, the fathers of students with higher education and university degree were more likely to provide supplementary tutoring to their children.


Discussion and Conclusion

Young people are the most influential classes of society who play a significant role in the development of the country. Admission to universities and higher education institutes also has become one of the goals of the youth in terms of the social and cultural value.  Admission to the university itself is a very good incidence, in that young people pay attention to higher education.

A great increase in the number of applicants for universities and the limited capacity of them has made the youth encounter with an obstacle called Konkur. This has in turn, led to a false sense of need to attend private tutoring institutes out of school in order to succeed in Konkur and enter university. In addition, such institutes also intensify this emotional atmosphere by colorful and seductive advertisements.

However, what has happened during the years of Konkur is a chaos in students’ admission and consequently, the extensive growth of private educational institutes in turn provides the context for financial abuse and economic, social and psychological damages.

Hence, parliament members passed to Student Admission Law at Universities and Higher Education Institutions Law for educational justice in last years (Islamic Consultative Assembly, 2015). According to this law, 85% of the university's capacity will be filled based on the student's three-year academic record and background. For the remaining 15% of the universities' capacity, in addition to the academic background, Konkur will also be held. According to the aforementioned law, educational system is required to provide the required mechanisms for national exams and investigation of students’ three-year schooling background in high school. If the final tests that are annually held by the Ministry of Education are standard, they can also be very effective in students’ admission in universities. The correct implementation of the student assessment law and admission is possible by standardizing education tests, and this requires moving ahead with the gradual elimination of the Konkur. The educational justice at Konkur should be taken in such a way that no student is ignored. The complete removal of Konkur requires special arrangements ().

The results of an investigation (The Education Commission of Islamic Parliament Research Center, 2015) demonstrate that the turnover of such institutes is about 7 milliard Tomans (2,000,000 US$) each year.  During the decades of the emergence of Konkur, not only it was not beneficial for the educational system, but also it had some negative impacts upon this system.  Unfortunately, Iranian educational system has always been influenced by Konkur. The school examinations are also under the influence of this exam and private institutes and this has resulted in students’ concern and stress. In addition to the negative impact on the educational system, the activities of private institutes have also eliminated students’ basic rights to free education and educational justice.

One of the reasons that families turn to private institutes for Konkur preparation is inadequate information provided by educational system and the mass media. A survey (The Education Commission of Islamic Parliament Research Center, 2015) illustrates that %70 of the exam’s questions are repetition of the previous year’s questions. The education does not inform the students whether or not they should study the previous years’ questions, and they will succeed if they easily study the textbooks and questions of past years’ exams. The education does not provide students with such information and this affects students’ willingness to enroll in such institutes.

Iran’s Broadcasting Organization also plays a key role in shadow education, but in fact they are ignorant of the rules in this area.  It can claim that for 70% of the applicants, there is no need to attend private tutoring classes because such classes are useful only if the students completely learn the lessons at their school According to the existing statistics, private tutoring classes for Konkur are not effective for students whose average is less than 85. However, it would be much more beneficial for such students to take single-course remedial classes during their school period (Tabnak, 2018).

The role of private institutes in raising the level of students’ knowledge cannot be ignored because private academic institutes have the potential to increase the academic level of students and university applicants and to strengthen students’ understanding of the lessons rather than strengthening their memory (Khabaronline, 2018).  Although private institutes have great entrepreneurship capacity, their current conditions are not appropriate and they should be seriously organized. Our advice to families is that they should expect their children to succeed in Konkur based on their intelligence and knowledge and in consultation with the experts, not based on the false advertisements of private institutes.

Based on the findings of the study, students stated that English, math, and basic sciences were respectively the most commonly used courses for remedial teaching. These statistics may in the first place contribute to the importance of these lessons in the national curriculum. On the other hand, since math and English are required for students to advance at higher levels of education, it is likely to be of particular significance for parents, teachers and students. Hence, there is a greater demand for private tutoring courses in mathematics and the English language at private institutes. This increase of demand may reflect the lack of educational assistance provided by families to students or the low quality of education in the classroom. On the other hand, the nature of the evaluations in these subjects tends to make improvements in more private and remedial tutoring.

         Research findings also revealed that parents with higher education and higher incomes are more likely to hire private teachers to help their children pass their exams and national tests that are introductory stages toward higher-level entry of universities and excellent jobs. In other words, parents who have the experience of higher education have found that getting good grades in Konkur exam is a way to reach higher levels of education. These results are consistent with the findings of Silova, Budiene and Bray (2006) that parents who understand the benefits and pleasures of higher education are more likely to encourage their children to obtain a position at university. Since achieving higher education is likely to be associated with the acquisition of high-profile jobs, these parents are likely to be able to pay the fees for hiring private tutors. Consequently, participation in remedial tutoring reflects a significant economic investment by parents in students’ education.  The above-mentioned results are consistent with Shiravand, Madandar Arani, and Nikpey’s (2017) and Madandar Arani and Mirzamohammadi’s (2018) research about Iran in which, they found that the subjects in which such courses are taken are ranked by students as math and English, and Arabic language. Girl students seem to be taking more of such lessons, while teachers promote taking them. Furthermore, they found that taking these classes is more frequent among the higher grades with no relation to the parental income level.

Evidence from the present study showed that from the viewpoint of teachers and parents, the significant goal of participating in private tutoring for students is to better understand the courses and improve their performance in the exams and national tests. The extensive advertising of private tutoring institutes also suggests that preparation for final examinations and university entrance exams is the main objectives of many of the founders of these private centers. The results clearly showed that parents, by investing in private tutoring, expect to increase their children's academic achievement.

Many teachers and students acknowledge the effectiveness of private tutoring. This claim is supported by some researchers, but there is limited scientific evidence in this regard and there are mixed findings. For example, Smyth (2008) did not find any meaningful relationship between academic achievement and private remedial tutoring when the main variables were statistically controlled. In contrast, studies of some scholars such as Mischo and Haag (2002) demonstrated that private remedial tutoring improves students’ academic achievement. In addition, Erison (2004) states that the quality of private remedial tutoring as a factor that probably influences the effectiveness of education deserves more attention in future research.

In addition, a high percentage of parents consider the increase in their children’s self-esteem as one of the other important reasons for sending them to private classes. Because parents may believe that self-esteem plays a major role in academic progress. This is consistent with the results of psychological researches that prove the mutual effects between students` self-concept and school’s academic achievement (Marsh, Byrne and Yeung, 1999). On the other hand, parents may not want to acknowledge the competitive advantages of private tutoring that they seek through the use of hiring private instructors for their children.

         Although parents and teachers noticed that a combination of factors contributed to the application of private remedial tutoring for their children/students, their ratings were significantly different from what the students ranked subtly. Investigating the viewpoints of students demonstrated that private Supplementary tutoring helps students learn faster and better, continue their task, and attend the sessions that may be delayed due to factors such as illness.

Some students recognized that they do not well understand their teachers in formal schools. In approving this idea, the research findings revealed that most of the students had private remedial tutoring simultaneously in the same months as in the school. It seems that those students, who say they are not going to private classes, consider the fear of being mocked by teachers, classmates or family members as the most significant factor in not attending in private remedial tutoring. This finding is consistent with the study conducted by Bray (2010) in which it was indicated that attending supplementary private classes sometimes embarrasses some students to others.

From the perspective of the parents who participated in the research, (see table 4) the most important obstacles for the attendance of their children in private tutoring classes were the high prices of such classes and their high psychological and mental pressure on the children.  But the teachers pointed to the extra-curricular classes in state schools and the failure of parents to find qualified private tutors as the main reasons in this regard.

However, private tutoring seems to be used to help students succeed in the educational system. Parents use private tutors to help their children perform well in exams. A large percentage of students select private tutoring in order to help them with their learning needs. Although schools have a legal commitment to provide adequate educational support for all students, the amount of participation in remedial tutoring suggests that in most cases these supports was inadequate and resulted in families seeking additional teaching. On the other hand, many students feel that they do not receive adequate educational support from their families and therefore need a private tutor. This finding may reflect the value that parents attribute to their children education and their children willingness to provide them with educational assistance. Parental support has been recognized as an influential factor in the learning and development of children (Desforges & Abouchaar, 2003). Private remedial tutoring, like helping the students with their homework, is one of the options parents may consider when they want to value and respond to the demands of their children for additional support and resources available within the family.

This research was subject to some limitations. First, due to cultural and social issues, some students did not want to declare the number of weekly hours they were taught during their classes. For some, private tutoring may be related to low academic performance and may bring shame on them. In addition, some others who have high academic performance may be regarded as an unfair advantage. No study can cover all areas of the phenomenon of remedial teaching, so researchers must select and study specific elements.  Roesgaard (2006) identified a list of main areas that could be studied; among these topics are the general atmosphere, curriculum, admission policies and advertising (quoted in Berry, 2010). Other scholars may be interested in studying teachers instead of students, or may look at the nature and essence of this phenomenon or mechanism for regulating and monitoring it. Therefore, the list of research topics in remedial tutoring can essentially be as general as those of the common educational systems. However, the formal education system is easier to monitor and supervise, since most of its information is required from the area of budgets and educational processes. Education officials usually insist that state schools report at least information on student enrollment statistics, class size, curriculum, and academic achievement. The phenomenon of remedial teaching puts hundreds of thousands of people into service and sometimes ruthlessly squanders their money and wastes a great part of students and teachers’ lives. The question raised here is how far private classes and free academic institutes should lead students to achieve educational goals? Although education as the main administrator should monitor the activities of such centers, it does not appear to be highly successful in practice. Accordingly, improvement of the current situation and the prevention of the expansion of private tutoring centers require more supervision and stronger rules and regulations.

[1] United Nations Development Program

[2] Iranian Currency, one US$ was 3500 Tomans in 1st Sep. 2017

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