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.
YOUR SAY: Is tuition necessary? Will we ever see the end of it? Sign in below and post your comments.
How not to have tuition? My son will have relief teacher every year for few months for each subject. Take instance this year, Pri 5, his English teacher went for course from Jan to end May and Math & science teacher went on course from Jul till Sep. During these period of relief, we depend very much on tuition as the relief is always behind schedule compare to other class or relief teacher simple cannot cope with the class. If these period there is no tutor to help him, to build up his confidence, to stay in pace with other class, how do you expect him to score for exam.
Pre primay tuition not needed? I still remember, I learn the stroke of chinese words like father, mother in Pri one. Math additional and substraction in pri one. Nowadays, the children are expected to know before they go to pri one. I heard from one of my friend, her son went into this school and child suppose to take a test to determine his standard and allocate the class accordingly.
Goverment and school focus too much on result and certificate. Fun time childhood is no longer be available. If child can cope with the school, why we parents wants to spend money on tuition, spend time to send and fetch? We will rather have a good and enjoyable weekend for family bon****ing the same money and time.
There's once incident where my daughter doesn't understand what the teacher was teaching, went up to her and asked. The teacher just told her to tell us get a tuitor for her.
Every year the school will do the streaming, good one 1 class, moderate one 1 class, lousy one 1 class. And for very sure, the lousy class will be allocated with a very lousy teacher. And the lousy students will been look down by other parents, teachers & students.
Who's fault?? Parents, Teachers or MOE???
My Primary 5 daughter was assigned to a Class led by an Award-Winning Chinese Teacher (Best Teacher Award).
During the first day of class, the teacher spent the whole lesson pressurizing students that she was to cramp her lessons, and students would have to complete Primary 6 Syllabus at least half a year before PSLE.
From Jan till now, she had been overloading students with tons of homework, including 52 model compositions for copying (many of them have lots of spelling mistakes). Out of the 52 articles, she had never even read one to her students, not to mention that no explanation was given to the difficult vocabularies used in the articles. Her other loads for students also include recitation of Oral examples, and memorizing “so called” good phases to reproduced word by word (which also includes many spelling mistakes).
She did not teach the materials given to the students, but just keep nagging in class.
Since most of the students cannot complete the homework in time, she started to call parents, asking them to put in effort to make sure that their children can do the homework reasonably well.
Homework submitted were not marked (until one parent had filed a complaint to the school, then there were just a tick on the papers and a mark for the compositions submitted without details of how the marks were computed. Comprehension and Multiple Choice questions continued to be self-marked). She only post the answers or suggested answers on internet and expect the students to do self-marking. Needless to say, students after self-marking might know the correct answers for particular questions, but not the reason why those answers were correct. In other words, they are not learning (just answer copying).
I had gone through some of the suggested answers and noted many mistakes even in Han Yu Pin Yin in multiple choice questions. I had talked to the Form Teachers about such “self-marking” practice, who replied me that she did not have time to mark the English, Mathematics and Science exercises given to the students too. Workloads are just too heavy that students are expected to self-mark. The situation was expected to be worse in Primary 6.
With Award-Winning Teachers like this, how do we ensure the students know the subjects? Parents are not experts in all subjects, parents are not NIT trained, parents have many other roles to play besides most parents are having full-time work. Without tutor, how do students survive in such school?
My point is, parents have a huge part to play. And my mum did well with me, by thoroughly understanding my strengths and weaknesses. I may not be the cream-of-crop, but I'm doing well. Most importantly, my mum didn't pass on her insecurities of "her kid not able to do well" onto me. She prep me on REAL world, by training my confidence and sociability, and that's the true survival skills, not just grades.
You want you kids to stand out and be better than the rest, get them to do something that others are not.
It all started with streaming at primary school and changing how students get into secondary schools. These set the entry bar level and since then everyone has been clamouring to get their kids ready and able to meet this bar. As more and more could make it, the only way out is to keep on raising the bar ........... and we excuse ourselves from this fact with the allocade of having a very 'good' education system here that churns out good and bright students.
But to what expense? With the pressure to the government to nationalize pre-school - this pressure will be pushed further downwards to poor little precious tots. Ask kids nowadays what is their daily experience and they would tell you things that are devoid of things of childhood dreams and fun.
This is very sad ............... so the question is not whether there should be tuition or not ............. just to side track - there is NO such thing as a tuition teacher unless you are learning to be a tutor (I read this even in the straits times !!!! ........... maybe they need English tutor)............. back to subject at hand ............... but if the education system is serving us well. What is an education system supposed to fulfill? .......... train little kids on mathematics so they would be a mathematics professor at 18 years old? How many of those stuffs they crammed thier heads with are useful in their lives ........... not just practical but as a civilized human being ...... ?
Personally, I am truly disgusted with our education system and all those who are making it more and more disgusting ................... SAVE OUR CHILDREN !!!!!!!!!!!!1
It's very ironical to hear nowadays that the banded classes in schools seem to have more homework, more supplementary classes and better teachers coaching them in school.
I thought the good teachers should be assigned to weaker classes, and more supplementary classes should be given to weaker students to help them to understand and get better in class.
Sadly, it's not the case... Sigh....
My view is tuition is necessary only if children cannot cope with any particular subjects. Why send children for tuition when they are doing well? Even if they aren't doing well, parents should identify which areas the child is weak at and then engage a tutor on a need basis to help the child in a targetted approach. Seriously, children must have time to enjoy their CCA, have time with friends or just relax at home. I simply can't understand those parents who send their children for tuition when they are doing well, one I know has loads of tuition even though she is in a top class of one of the IP school, just because she doesn't want to leave the top class!
Tuition (not referring to enrichment classes ie music or drama etc classes) will be here to stay. It is indeed useful for struggling students. But I hope there will be an end of those top students clamouring for tuition just to be one up against their friends or for whatever reasons.
There are an average of 20 students in class, will the teacher slow down the syllabus if only 1 child is lacking behind? The answer will be no. This is a reason why tuition is required.
Sometime having a different teacher tea****nd explaining a same concept but in a different way may help the child to understand better. Not 1 teacher's method fits all children.
Even my child's preschool teacher encourages me to send my child to enrichment classes.
Children will not feel pressure if they are allowed to learn at their own pace. Though there may be enrichment classes but doesn't mean parents are expecting their child to perform better than peers in class.
I guess the reasons for so many of such topics being raised on tuition is because there are many parents who are unable to afford their children tuition and they are afraid and jealous. For me, I believed in giving my child the best within my jurisdiction.
My child is enjoying his class and making more friends, he has shown great enthusiasms in enrichment classes. I m not expecting him to do better when he goes to Primary 1. I just want to get his foundation firm and solid. If he does not do well in future, I have no regrets as I have done my part. If he does well, my efforts pay off.
For instance, many parents saw their children scored full marks in their spellings would thought that there would be no problem for their children when they come across the words again. However, if we make an effort to study how our brains work, we will realised that we need to study the words over and over again for weeks or even months to impress these words deeply into our mind. Not forgetting that we may know how to spell the words but may not understand their meanings nor know how to use them.
Doing homework distributed from schools will not be enough. Parents have to sit down with their children to ensure that their children repeat solving previous exercises which were given from school weeks/months ago. This is because they might have gotten the answers correct through some guidance. If we let them solve the questions again, they may not know how to do it independently.
Another point is: children may not really learned from their mistakes. Revision is an enhancement to ensure that they understand and learn from their mistakes. It is really not necessary to buy assessment books (these are for enrichment) for them to solve for the time being (unless the child got everything right after revising). Schools' worksheets, revision, test and examination papers are very good source to use for revision. This will enable children to keep to the standard of the school because not every school has the same standard.
As parents, we really have to put in a lot of effort and it will pay off if we are willing to learn from our children in how we can teach and help them.