Most parents will agree that Singapore has one of the best education systems globally. Our schools closely follow the guidelines set by MOE in order to provide the most well-rounded and comprehensive education for our children. Albeit so, tuition centres and agencies are popular among the Singaporean parents. In view of this, the big question is, is tuition really necessary in Singapore
A common reason why many parents flock to tuition centres and agencies is to improve their children’s competitive advantage. Parents find competition in Singapore is really high as we have a knowledge-based economy. Thus, by enhancing the learning their children receive, parents hope their children will gain an edge for their future career and development. In fact, Singapore is not alone in this. In China, with the massive population size, competition for entrance into good schools and eventually a reputable job is extremely high, even more so than Singapore. As such, almost every Chinese child has a multitude of tuitions on hand. We do agree that tuition is really useful in a child’s learning. It can not only reinforce the learning from school, it can also provide a wider perspective on the subject matter or an alternative way to understand the subject matter better. However, tuition is not necessary for everyone. Some students are blessed to be matched to a school which fits his/her learning style. Some students only require slight help which they can get from their older siblings and parents. The present-day internet is also a very useful platform where students can seek help from. Certainly, as much as these students who can do without tuition, we have identified a few categories of students where tuition are helpful and even necessary. Before introducing these categories of students, we need to clear some myths that parents have about tuition.
Parents must first understand that tuition was never meant to replace school; it plays more of a supplementary role to schools in the aspect of academic. Schools are formal educational institutions which provide learning in a very wide range. They develop students in the aspects of studies, sports, art, music, social skills and network, communication skills, discipline and et cetera. The list goes on. In contrast, tuition only focuses on one aspect of the child’s development, which is the academic aspect. It reinforces what is taught in school, usually by the learning mode of repetition. Schools usually face a time constrain that makes them unable to repeat topics taught. Tuition supports this by providing students another avenue where they can gain deeper understanding of a topic taught in school. Tuition also provides students a chance to gain from having different teachers and adult figures to turn to for advice academically. Thus, the learning that is taking place at the two institutions differs very much.
Some parents with the Singaporean ‘kiasu’ spirit may hold the view that tuition does magic for their children’s academics. Surrounded by a myriad of neighbours and relatives whose children are having tuition, they blindly believe in the common trend and rush their child into having tuitions so as not to lose out. Common myths surrounding tuitions are that if the tuition centre or agency boasts impressive scores of a selected few students, and has many branches opened, they are good tuitions. However, parents need to note that it’s quality that matters, not quantity. A tuition business with huge financial backing can open multiple branches across Singapore. Yet the crux is whether there is sufficient focus placed on the education provided. While students’ scores can be a measurement of tuition’s performance, one needs to look into the performance of the unpublished scores, whether weaker students have shown improvements with the tuition, and whether the published scores are from students who are already performing well in school. There are many factors to consider and hence parents should be warned against enrolling their children into tuition blindly.