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Private tuition: Do students need it?

Do you think private tuition is necessary for our students today?

Fretting over private tuition classes is a norm among students and parents here.

Recently, the issue of private tuition was thrown in the spotlight when several news reports featured students who are going for tuition classes – despite already scoring As in school.

What's going on?
In a recent Parliament session, Senior Minister of State for Education, Ms Indranee Rajah said private tuition is unnecessary in Singapore's education system, and that it may be counter-productive for students who are already acing school.

She said: "Our education system is run on the basis that tuition is not necessary."


However, some youth feel that tuition helps, especially when it comes to pulling up grades.

20-year-old communications undergraduate Sharifah Alfieyah felt that tuition is necessary for students facing difficulty in grasping certain concepts taught in school.

"I think they should (go for tuition) if they are conscious about asking their teachers too many questions. One-to-one tutoring would be best for these students. They get to clarify their doubts with their tutor easily too," said Sharifah, who tutors primary school students in her free time.


I can attest to this. I had a personal tutor for Mathematics when I was in junior college. It was out of necessity, as I was struggling to pass the core subject.

But when Ms Indranee said that "Our education system is run on the basis that tuition is unnecessary", I started to reflect on my time as a student. I managed to pass other subjects with ease, but I have
always struggled with Mathematics in school.

Will tuition help slower learners or late bloomers like myself? After all, students learn at different paces.

"In a class, the teacher to student ratio is usually 1 to 40. Apart from having to rush through the syllabus, there is barely enough time for the teacher to address each student's questions," said Ng Jian Yun, a 21-year-old undergraduate.

Not all youth feel that tuition is necessary, though.

23-year-old student Hafizah Rahman, who has never had tuition, said: "I am glad that I didn't have tuition because I learn better when I study at my own pace, rather than sitting down for two hours and listening to a tutor."


"I think people go for these classes because it gives them confidence," added Coreen Li, a 24-year-old civil servant.

Nowadays, tuition classes are not limited to school subjects. Students can go for "specialised" tuition classes that prepare them for "math and science competitions." Such classes are usually catered to well-performing students who wish to enrich themselves with "higher-order skills" like "modelling, listing strategies and trial and error for maths."

So, are tuition classes meant to help students who are trying to improve their flailing grades, or for straight A students to pick up skills that set them miles apart from their peers? Does this make tuition a game for the wealthy?


Chrystal Hooi, 18, felt that students who are going for additional tuition classes should not be regarded as "competitive", even if they are already doing well in school.

"If you're already doing well want to go further and excel, I don't see anything wrong in seeking help (tuition). If you're not doing well because you're lazy, you have no right to blame the smart kids for being too competitive," added the media and communications student.

However, Farah Adibah, 21, a student, countered: "I don't think it's a necessity. If students study hard, they'll still be able to excel in school without going for tuition classes."

What's your take?

1. Have you had tuition classes? Why, or why not? Were you happy about it?

2. Are tuition classes necessary for students to excel in school? Why?

3. Besides tuition and studying hard, how else can students improve their grades in school?

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