Singapore tuition industry is approaching a billion dollar market.
Private tuition are mainly based on four different types of tutoring approaches such as TOP notch tutoring, group private tuition, home based tutors and tuition from government bodies.
The TOP notch tuition accept students who are highly capable of achieving good results and above average students. They conduct diagnostic tests for students prior to their admissions. Their main concerns are to be one of the top tuition centers in Singapore. By being selective of their students intellectual capabilities, they keep up to be the top notch tuition. Having a low teacher to student ratio of 1: 20, the students perform well and the tuition centers will remain to be the top tuition centers in Singapore.
Group tuition are catered for those who have a combination of being above average and below average. Both of these capabilities are mixed with the pool of students, in a group tuition. They focus more on integrating the two individual group and coming out with a common good. Eventually, the integrated group perform equally well in such a setting. The teacher to student ratio is 1:15, hence, it is manageable and fair attention is provided to individual student.
Government based bodies are those like CDAC, SINDA and Mendaki. These are catered for neighborhood children. Some parents do not want to send their child far away for tuition classes, therefore, these bodies act as a support within their neighborhood. These bodies also act as mediators for racial balances when it concerns the academic performances of each ethnic group. However, they also accept other ethnic group to attend their classes. In such government based programmes. The teacher to student ratio is 1:25 or even more based on the population of each ethnic group, in the neighbourhood. In such big class sizes, the weaker students may get neglected at times and thus unable to perform well academically. These situations affects the popularity and demands of government based tuition, among many parents and students.
In private home based tuition, parents pay hefty price to engage tutors to come to their house. The prices vary according to the qualifications of the tutors, example; an undergraduate is paid $30-$35 per hour and school teacher $50-$70 per hour and based on their experiences. In such cases, when a child attends a two- three hours lesson per week conducted by a school teacher, comes up to an average of $800-$1000 per month.
In Singapore, where manpower is crunched, both parents have to go to work. Thus, these home based tutors act as a guide and mentor for the two to three hours per week.
In Singapore, both parents go to work to match the fast pace competition of the society.
Being parents, they are often concern about their child’s academic performance and well being, in their absence. They easily get anxious when their child does not perform academically well incomparison to their neighbours’. Parents also fear of their child getting into the bad influences and spending too much time on computer/games, in their absence.
Therefore, these tuition seem like ‘a light at the end of the dark tunnel’ for them or an alternative solution for most parents.
Parents seek support from these tuition to engage their children meaningfully.
Moreover, the ‘PSLE’ anxiety among parents are higher since PSLE is a national exam and students are required to perform well to get admission in high end secondary schools such as Raffles Institution, Anglo Chinese, National Junior College and etc. Most parents believe that high end schools provide them with status and pride so they push their child very hard to achieve their dreams. They want their child to be equipped with all the knowledge and confidence they need, in order to perform very well in PSLE.
Hence, parents pay a lot more to get their child to attend the extra enrichment classes such as ‘Confidence Building’, ‘Time and Stress Management’ and many more which are held in these tuition centers apart from normal subject tuition
Some parents get their child to attend group tuition to judge /gauge the position of their child’s learning potential among their peers.
Therefore, tuition have became a norm for most parents and students. As what PM Lee mentioned in his speech, ” Tuition is a minor obsession”.
Students who require tuition are either those who are below average or those who want to strive and be the best in a particular subject.
Nowadays, students have became more demanding and comfortable, in Singapore. When they are questioned about their low marks,they complain that teacher’s explanations and presentations are not clear and insufficient to understand topics.
Instead of hard work and sufficient self practices to get to the depth of the topics, students demand for tuition to get expected results.
Most primary school students do not enjoy tuition because it takes takes up their leisure time in which they can have outdoor activities. Whereas, most secondary school students would prefer tuition to have better understanding of the subjects since they have to grapple with six to seven subjects incomparison to the students in primary school.
After an overview of the above situations, I realized that private tuition are not necessary for children below the age of ten years. I feel that naive children become victims of competitions and peer pressures. These children are being nurtured to be competitive and academic excellence becomes their nature of learning. In Singapore, many parents are stereotype. They get easily influenced and carried away by comparing their child results with another.
Such comparisons and competitive nature, make parents plunge into decision to provide private tuition for these naive children.
Children of these delicate age should enjoy their childhood and develop holistically. School teachers are well trained to cater to all types of learning needs among these age group and schools are well equipped to provide sufficient support to help them develop more holistically.
These children grow up to be life long learners and have positive views about education.
Private tuition are more effective for children above eleven years old. At this age, a child begins to mature. Their thinking ability increases and they tend to have inquisitive minds.
Maturity helps the child to understand and accept learning as a personal need for development rather than a chore. The word ‘education’ becomes more meaningful when the child wants to gain his own identity in society or among peers. Therefore the government has taken initiatives to push tertiary education to be completed at an early stage.
A bigger step can be taken to bring forward the secondary curriculum to Primary 5 and Primary 6 levels. This is to further encourage and develop keen interests among these matured children.
Therefore, private tuition play a vital role in nurturing the next generation. Students at these age can determine the kind of tuition they need and absorb better when they have keen interest rather than attending tuition just for the sake of attending.
The other concern that arises in the rising market of private tuition is that schools are losing capable teachers to private tuition The income of a private tutor is more than a school teacher. Therefore a teacher rather chooses to be his/her boss and work at a flexible hour and earn more, thus, education system is at risk and schools are threatened.
Perhaps, schools could think of ways to get students engaged in school enrichment programmes. Schools could cut down making teachers do admin jobs and employ more admin staff to do ad-hoc jobs, thus, allowing teachers to be part of the enrichment programmes and tapping on their expertise. As such, teachers could be paid based on hourly rates based on the hours spent and showcase their expertise. This way teachers could get an opportunity to understand their students well and both teacher student bonding becomes better making learning easier and enjoyable.
By providing such programmes and opportunities for teachers to be engaged with students, schools could refrain from losing their teachers to private tuition Children need not seek help from private tuition bodies too. The government approach of having holistic development can be achieved when school are being held from 9am to 3pm. As parents come back from work just two hours later. If the private tutors are there they can always approach them to ask for progress. Some parents need not have tuition by spending quality time with their children.
Private tuition and tutors are forms of making the rich and poor gap more easily visible. A rich parent engages tuition of high quality and vice versa for the other family group. However, those parents stuck are those with averagely achieving children. To match the rich group, these parents spend more on quality tuitioins for their children. The authorities can strike a balance by capping the tuition fees of private tuition groups. By encouraging this stance the rich and poor gap will not be seen so widely as portrayed by tuition centers or private tutors.
With this issues I conclude the discussion on ‘Private tuition in Singapore’
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