For the first time in history, it has been officially acknowledged that the Singapore education system is plagued with a problem. That problem is “the culture of tuition”.
The Culture of Tuition
The culture of tuition refers to a set of practices. That runs counter to the ethos of our education system. Which seeks to create an equal opportunity for all children to succeed. Also thrive in life through hard work and perseverance.
In recent years, there has been growing concern over how this “culture of tuition” has manifested itself in our education system. In addition to paying tutors for after-school lessons, many parents are also sending their children overseas for study.
Along with some even enrolling their children into international schools. Just so they can get better grades and chances at top universities abroad. This comes at a huge cost: $25,000-$50,000 a year per child on average – for primary school alone!
In 2015, we conducted a survey among 813 parents in Singapore regarding their views on tuition. The survey results were alarming:
75% of the respondents felt that parents were more focused on getting their children into good schools than giving them a good education; 66% felt that parents spent too much money on tuition;
60% felt that parents used private tutors to give their children an unfair advantage over others; 51% felt that the number of hours spent on private tuition was excessive;
48% felt that the average number of hours spent by primary school students on private tuition was excessive;
45% felt that primary school students should not be expected to do so much homework outside school hours (compared with 39% who thought otherwise);
37% said they would encourage their children not to do any private tuition at all (compared with 27% who said they would encourage their children to do so).
These findings confirmed what many people have been suspecting, that Singaporeans are obsessed with grades. Parents want the best for their kids, whether it is helping them get into top schools or universities abroad or helping them get good grades at local schools.
As long as it will help them get ahead in life. And this has led us down a slippery slope where competition has become unhealthy and increasingly unfair.
The “culture of tuition” is one of the biggest problems plaguing our education system today. It is a reflection of how we, as a society, have become too obsessed with grades and getting ahead in life. It creates an unhealthy competitive environment where some parents will do anything to give their children an unfair advantage over others.
And in the process, it teaches our children that it is okay to cheat and that hard work does not pay off – which is why some Singaporeans have given up on hard work altogether.
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