Stakeholders say parents responsibility to ensure children able to cope with tuition
Stakeholders say ultimately it's the responsibility of parents to ensure their children are able to cope with the pressure of tuition.
The reactions come a day after Education Minister, Heng Swee Keat, said excessive tuition can be harmful, and result in boredom among school-going children.
But others say mindsets will not change anytime soon.
Some parents send their kids to tuition - and it's not because their children can't keep up with their school syllabus - but to ensure their kids are better prepared for their lessons at school.
Anna Tan is a parent who enrolled her six-year-old child at a centre that screens students before they take them in.
Her four-year-old son will undergo the same screening soon.
"What's happening in his pre- school now is that they're learning more things than I could ever teach them on my own. You'll know that science is actually introduced to the children when they're in Primary three. But My son is learning water cycle already, in pre school itself- not to mention enrichment centres. If in pre-school they're introducing this, it hits another panic button - that do I need to prepare him for the subject that is only expected when he's in nine?"
In his speech to educators on Wednesday, Mr Heng said the ministry can do its part not to contribute towards the need for tuition.
Dr Zhong Rui Wen, Director of Raffles EduHub, feels the buck stops with parents, as many still continue to send their children for tuition, even though they're performing well above average.
"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 only below average to average."
Dr Zhong says she turns away about eight such requests on average, every month.
Educators like Lee Shu Jun, Head of Department of Humanities in Tanjong Katong Girls' School, agree there's not always the need for parents to enrol in tuition.
"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 $800m on tuition in 2008, figures from the Department of Statistics the dependence on tuition is unlikely to end soon.
We asked some parents for their views on tuition.
"It actually inculcates a 'kiasu' syndrome right- it's like making things worse. As it is now, a lot of kids are not having a childhood."
"Parents tend to compare, you know 'how's your kid doing in school?' or your results."
And so many parents say they'll continue to send their kids to tuition classes to give them a headstart in life.
-By Monica Kotwani
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