Dependence on tuition unlikely to end soon?

SINGAPORE: Some parents send their kids to tuition because their children can’t keep up with their school syllabus while others do so to ensure their kids are better prepared for their lessons at school.

Education Minister, Heng Swee Keat, has said excessive tuition can be harmful and result in boredom among school—going children.

Stakeholders say ultimately it’s the responsibility of parents to ensure their children are able to cope with the pressure of tuition.

Others say mindsets will not change anytime soon.

Channel NewsAsia spoke to a parent who enrols her six—year—old child at a centre that screens students before they take them in.

"My son is learning (about) water cycle(s) already, in pre—school itself, not to mention enrichment centres. If in pre—school they’re introducing this, it hits another panic button — do I need to prepare him for a subject that (will only be introduced to him) when he’s nine?" she said.

In his speech to educators, Mr Heng said the ministry can do its part not to contribute towards the need for tuition, but those Channel NewsAsia spoke with said the buck stops with parents, as many still continue to send their children for tuition, even though they’re performing well above average.

Dr Zhong Rui Wen, director and founder of Raffles EduHub, said: "We had a parent who came to us and wanted to enrol the kid with us. So I asked the parent what marks did the child score, and the parent said the child was scoring 85 to 90.

"I told the parent that my policy here is that we only enrol children who are (scoring) only below average to average (marks)."

Dr Zhong said she turns away about eight such requests on average every month.

Educators Channel NewsAsia spoke with agreed there’s not always the need for parents to enrol their children in tuition.

Lee Shu Jun, head of department for Humanities, Tanjong Katong Girls’ School, said: "In school, the teachers are putting in a lot of effort and time to give supplementary lessons to our students. So really, the students should come to us as the first line of help, rather than to seek external help."

But for a country in which households spent more than S$800 million on tuition in 2008, the dependence on tuition is unlikely to end soon.

"It actually inculcates a ’kiasu’ syndrome... it’s making things worse. As it is now, a lot of kids are not having a childhood," said one parent.

"(Parents) compare grades definitely... I’m just caught in the rat race, so the only way out is to join them. All parents would like to prepare their child for life, and judging by the way assessment books are being written and sold in bookstores, you realise that we can only over prepare them and not under prepare them," said another.

Many parents said they will continue to send their kids to tuition classes to give them a headstart in life.

— CNA/cc
 

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