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.
HOUSES FLOODED: The ground shook in Tonga as explosions were heard, followed by gushing water and pelting rocks, sending people running to higher ground A massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific caused “significant damage” to the island nation’s capital and smothered it in dust, but the full extent was not apparent with communications still cut off yesterday. The eruption on Saturday was so powerful that it was recorded around the world, triggering a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the US. Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, suffered “significant” damage, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding that there had been no reports of injury or death, but a full assessment was not possible with communication lines down. “The tsunami has
‘ZERO’ STRATEGY: Carrie Lam said the airline faced a probe over its compliance with the rules after an outbreak was traced to air crew who breached quarantine Cathay Pacific is being investigated and faces possible legal action over an outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong that began with the airline’s employees, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) said yesterday. The revelation came as Lam announced the suspension of all kindergarten and primary schools until after the Lunar New Year early next month. Like China, Hong Kong maintains a “zero COVID” strategy that has largely cut the international finance hub off from the mainland and the rest of the world for the past two years. A recent outbreak traced to Cathay Pacific air crew who breached home quarantine has sparked
PORT CONGESTION: Ships heading for Omicron-affected Dalian and Tianjin are being redirected to Shanghai, which does not have the capacity for the sudden cargo influx China has detected the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in a second major port city, deepening concern that the vastly more infectious variant could spread quickly across the world’s largest trading nation, upending global supply chains. Chinese officials said yesterday that at least one person has Omicron in Dalian, a city of 7 million. A second person also tested positive for the virus, but the variant is unknown. Both are college students who returned home for the Lunar New Year holiday from Tianjin, where at least 137 other cases were traced as of Wednesday. Dalian joins Tianjin as the second crucial port city
Japan extended measures barring almost all new foreign arrivals until the end of next month and is to reopen mass vaccination centers as it battles an surge of COVID-19 cases, the government said yesterday. “We will keep the current border control policy until the end of February while taking necessary measures from a humanitarian viewpoint and considering the national interest,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. Local media said that there would be some new exemptions for members of Japanese families as well as students studying in Japan, but there were no immediate details from officials. The government is also to reopen