A new program to outsource math tutors in Britain is receiving mixed reviews. The London-based company BrightSpark Education is offering interactive online tutoring to help students in London get assistance from teachers in India.
The feedback from parents, students and the schools has been good so far, according to the New York Times. Students report they enjoy doing math problems on the computer and they find it helpful that their session is recorded so it can be replayed. Parents said they liked the fact that they didn't have to transport their children to tutoring sessions.
Teachers and their union representatives are criticizing the plan because they fear it could bring job cuts and there is a concern about the qualifications of teachers abroad.
The founder of BrightSpark, said teachers' unions were missing the point. "This is supplementary and in no way replacing teachers," Tom Hoooper said.
Hooper is quoted in the New York Times article as saying, "There is a huge thirst for support in the U.K. That combined with a huge pool of skilled and available academics in India--it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the potential."
BrightSpark charges £12 or about $19 per tutoring session. That compares with £20--or $31 per session for a private British math tutor. Hooper says his rate pays teachers £7 or $11 an hour more than the double minimum wage in Punjab, India.
Critics of the outsourcing tutoring plan say they are concerned about the impersonal nature of the Internet and question the quality of teaching.
Similar one-one-one online tutoring from India has been in the United State for at least 5 years. The chairman of Britain's National Outsourcing Association was quoted in the New York Times article as saying, "There is a social resistance (in Britain) because outsourcing here is always coupled with unemployment."