The offices of Educomp Datamatics in Delhi looks like any other Indian call center, apart from one crucial fact: Its staff are math tutors offering support to students in the US. Welcome to the latest "big thing" in outsourcing. \nAmerican schools desperate to improve their students' math grades are hiring Indian companies who provide tutors at a fraction of the cost of American tutors. These tutors sit in New Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore helping youngsters with their math homework or going over already-learnt concepts so that they do not lose ground during the holidays. \n"The world over, parents have a problem helping kids with math homework," says Shantanu Prakash, CEO of Educomp Datamatics. \n"The kids need help. It's painful. So if they can go to their computer and get someone to guide them and help them, it's a huge relief." \nTutors either speak using headphones or use a whiteboard and digital pencil so that one side can see what the other is writing. \nOthers -- such as Educom Datamatics tutors -- do not offer a voice service. Here, the tutor and student communicate only by writing on the whiteboard as they go through the stages of solving a problem. \nThis new form of outsourcing makes sense for a simple reason. Indians generally tend to be good at math which explains why so many of them write software. And India did, after all, invent the zero (it reached European civilization much later through the Arabs). \nAmerican schoolchildren, in contrast, tend to do badly in math. According to US statistics, about 40 per cent of 13-14 year-old American students fail to meet the grade in math and, as it happens, English. \nBecause of the Bush Administration's 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, if schools do not improve their pass percentages, they lose state funding. This has led some schools to turn to American tuition companies for help. Known as Supplemental Education Service providers, some of the larger ones such as Tutors.com, Smart Thinking and eSylvan, can charge up to US$40 an hour. Educomp Datamatics in India, on the other hand, charges only US$20-25 an hour. \nIt's a developing industry and to date only four or five Indian companies provide online tutors but of the ones which are up and running all are targeting the US. \n"It's just so vast," says Satya Narayanan, chairman of New Delhi-based Career Launcher. "We're just warming up. There is a huge dearth of tutors in the US, UK, and Middle East, too." \nNarayanan said, "Students want help and don't care where it comes from. They think it's quite funky to be sitting in California being taught by a math teacher in India." \n"The image Americans have of Indians is that they are smart, brainy people and so they think the educational system in India must be good. So no one has a problem accepting Indian tutors," says Prakash.
FEELING THREATENED: The first military commission under Kim Jong-un’s leadership to last longer than a day is a sign of a growing escalatory doctrine, an analyst said North Korea discussed assigning additional duties to its frontline army units at a key military meeting, state media said yesterday, suggesting that the country might deploy battlefield nuclear weapons targeting South Korea along the rivals’ tense border. The discussion comes as South Korean officials said North Korea has finished preparations for its first nuclear test in five years, as part of possible efforts to build a warhead to be mounted on short-range weapons capable of hitting targets in South Korea. During an ongoing meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and
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China’s COVID-19 outbreak is shifting to its south coast, with a flareup in Shenzhen triggering mass testing and a lockdown of some neighborhoods, while Macau — an hour’s drive away — is racing to stop its first outbreak in eight months. The new cases come as China’s two most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, look to be subduing the virus after months of strict curbs and repeated testing. Shanghai yesterday reported nine local cases, while Beijing reported five. Nationwide, China yesterday reported 34 new COVID-19 infections. Yet new clusters continue to emerge, prompting action from local officials. Borders are increasingly under pressure, with
New Zealand stargazers were left puzzled and awed by strange, spiraling light formations in the night sky on Sunday night. At about 7:25pm, Alasdair Burns, a stargazing guide on Stewart Island, also called Rakiura, received a text from a friend saying to go outside and look at the sky. He went out and saw a huge, blue spiral of light amid the darkness. “It looked like an enormous spiral galaxy, just hanging there in the sky,” Burns said. “Quite an eerie feeling.” “We quickly banged on the doors of all our neighbors to get them out as well. And so there were