In a country that places extensive emphasis on the education system such as Singapore, students battling the current of meritocracy will nevertheless find the overwhelming need to excel. The “one size fits all” education system places a rigorous practice on students and it would naturally be fallacious to say that every single student could adhere accordingly. With that kept in mind, academically weak students constantly find themselves lacking in the ability to propel forward to the same standard as their smarter peers. That’s where private tuition enters the picture.
The whole idea of private tuition is to assist students with their problems in understanding the syllabus. This, in and of itself is a boon since it helps the student catch up with what they are lagging behind in, be it a topic or a subject. In Singapore, for students not to attend any tuition class is a rarity as some parents even sign their children up for private tuition classes as early as kindergarten. The greatest advantage of private tuition is for the tutor to tailor their teaching style according to the student’s speed, needs and ability which directly tackles the problem of being left behind due to their school teacher’s speed. One to one tutoring helps to answer any question the student may have in their work and also stimulate better learning by allowing the tutor to access any doubts the student may have. In essence, private tuition is largely advantageous to students with study woes; this explains the popularity of private tuition as a solution for many students slow in their work.
As much as the benefits of private tuition are evident, a problem lies when moderation is not practiced. A phenomenon is witnessed when a student improves in their weak area thus causing tuition load and sessions to multiply. This practice is common in Singapore where the competitive spirit is ingrained in our culture to avoid losing out to peers in fear of being seen as inferior. In the act of excessive tuition, families inherently invest a large amount of income in hopes of seeing their child succeed academically. Blackbox Research conducted a recent survey in 2012 which reported 51% of Singaporeans with kids enrolled in tuition spend more than $500 a month per child which surmounts to a large expenditure in one year alone, not to mention the families that are less financially well-off and/or have more than one child. Private tuition hence causes a considerable strain on family finances which may result in a trade-off in the standard of living as many parents strive to work harder to pay off their monetary responsibilities. Furthermore, the extra time taken up by more tuition sessions disallow students to enjoy their free time which results in an unhappy studying experience caused by resentment. Private tuition also potentially causes complacency in students as they are provided with “insurance” outside of class to catch up on their accepted slowness.
All in all, private tuition is still popular for one reason: it works. But the line that distinguishes the necessary and unnecessary amount is frequently crossed for the sake of getting ahead despite the negative repercussions such as diminishing wealth and happiness. Private tuition is important as it contributes to the good results of students but it must be kept in mind to act as a supplementary option rather than a substitute.