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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Private Tuition Not Necessary in Singapore

It appears that Miss Indranee Rajah has asserted that...

(1) private tuition is not necessary in Singapore in order to pass exams

(2) exit interviews done by MOE of teachers who leave the teaching service show no evidence of teachers leaving to join the private tuition industry.

Some People Join The Teaching Service With the Intent to Leave
I'll tell you this. My neighbour is an NIE trained Math tuition teacher who runs a thriving tuition practice. She explained to me 2 years ago that she had encouraged her daughter to join the teaching service, work for a few years and then quit to become a private tutor like herself. "There is good work-life balance, classes are smaller... and the money is good." she explained. Hence, her daughter JOINED the teaching service with the express intention to serve out her time and THEN become a tuition teacher.

Of course, I doubt her daughter will reveal this at her exit interview when she leaves the teaching service sometime in the next 2 years. Why would people tell you the truth about why they're leaving?

What Happened to Grooming Each Child to His/Her Potential?
When it comes to crowing about Singaporean students' results at the PISA rankings, MOE professes that it has done a good job bringing every child to his/her full potential. Indeed, on THIS PAGE, under the heading "The Basis of Survival and Success", the MOE states that through education, every individual should reach his/her full potential.

So what happened? Now the schools teach only to a pass? 

ONLY PASS?

Private tuition may not be necessary for our smartest children to pass exams... but it IS necessary to bring them to their full potential. Where do these children access the learning and the materials they need to excel in school? Aiyo... tuition lah!! High quality and expensive tuition lor! 

The OECD PISA report does show that Singaporean children with richer parents do better in school. See HERE for more details on what the report showed in terms of how the playing field gives advantages to those children with rich parents. Where do these children access the learning and the materials they need to excel in school? Aiyo... tuition lah...!! High quality and expensive tuition lor...!

The fact is this... our excellent PISA rankings are due largely to difficult exams that light bonfires under the butts of parents who then scramble for the best tuition they can afford... or they quit their jobs to personally teach their children what they can figure out. Those who are richer can afford better quality tuition. The better educated ones can figure out better and teach their own kids better.


Enough said.


Please Don't Deny The Problem Exists
Compared to many netizens, Petunia takes a relatively moderate position. I am contented to know that the government acknowledges that a problem exists and seeks actively to resolve it. See HERE how moderate and supportive of this government I am...

I get worried however, when pronouncements by Ministers and Ministers of State (in this case a SENIOR Minister of State) seek to re-craft real life with words. If you don't acknowledge there is a problem, it is worrisome. It means no one in government is working to solve it.

On what basis does Indranee Rajah claim that the tuition industry is negligeable/harmful in its impact? She has children in the system? Is she aware that certain Ministers send their children for tuition too? Or did she merely repeat a response crafted by MOE civil servants who have every reason to justify what they have done or failed to do?

Has our National Conversation become a tussle between MOE civil servants and the populace via the intermediary of the politicians?


Real Parents With Real Experiences
I spoke to 5 parents today. They have no blogs. They have no bandwidth to speak up. It's all they can do to muster enough time and energy resources to make a living and help their children thrive and in some cases, survive. These people don't want trouble. They try their best to work within the system, spending $500+ to $1200 a month on tuition for ONE child alone. NONE of them believe that Every School is a Good School. None of them believe that tuition is unnecessary because they have personally seen their children's grades go to the top AFTER administering expensive tuition to their children.

One of them told me... "Don't hope. I believe it is impossible for this lot of government servants and politicians to change policy very much."... and I was myself embarrassed because I was just only telling her that "Nothing is impossible. We must always hope for the better."

I begin to lose hope too. Maybe it IS impossible for the PAP to change. It cannot SEE the problem so it cannot solve it.

I am guilty of writing posts that are critical of the education system in Singapore as in HERE. Such posts get shared and re-shared on Facebook and get thousands of hits. I am as guilty of writing posts that support MOE's initiatives as in HERE. This one achieved only 800 hits. From these numbers, I am getting a sense of where the silent majority is swinging to on matters of education.

6 comments:

Melodies said...

She just missed all the points! By maintaining her two points, would it help to solve the tuition problems? or rather she does not see this as a problem and hence does not bother to find out and solve the problem? I'm VERY disappointed and regret that MOE has not seriously look into the tuition problem after all the feedback for all these years. Even with the aid of tutors or full-time mothers, most kids are struggling by those tricky and high order thinking questions. I have all my empathise for a brilliant student comes from a disadvantaged background and has no access to expensive tuition or resources to handle the ridiculously hard even by adult standards of the current primary school exams and assessments. When these children come to Secondary and they are mature enough to figure out themselves, they get hit by the education system again as the system make it difficult for them to get into TOP secondary schools. I just hope that these students are resilient enough to keep on trying.

Lil Bookworm said...

You should read this, Petunia.
http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/forum-letters/story/tuition-not-necessary-good-grades-20130919

mummy wee said...

Hi Petunia,
A friend just recommended your blog to me. Finally I found a like-minded mother! Most other mummy blogs do not speak about this issue. I have been trying to bring up these same issues in our education system for the past 9 years. The only way I could do it was through the ST Forum. I do have a blog now, and I realise that this problem is of such a huge scale that we can't expect the MOE to rectify it without the involvement of the parents, teachers and principals. I hope that together, we can all provide our input from the ground and build a better education system... http://www.mummywee.com/2013/09/a-chat-with-our-mp-about-education.html

Jo Fong said...

I personally believe that "all schools are good schools" when the ministers themselves send their own kids / grandkids to schools named after a street even though their kids T-score is much higher than the rest.

Wobbles said...

In 2008, when I just entered the LKY School of Public Policy, they got Minister of Education at the time, Ng Eng Hen, to deliver a speech.

Predictably, he crowed about our excellent test results on PISA and other international tests, trying to impress upon the audience and my newly gathered classmates in the Masters in Public Policy class, just how good our education system was.

I punctured him by commenting about the prevalence of tuition. He tried to handwave it away - 'We can't stop parents from getting tuition for their children', but the damage was done. Not much was asked after that because nobody trusted his credibility.

Until the ministry itself acknowledges to the public there is a problem, this problem will persist. Even during my time in the LKY School, education was the ONE developmental area where no courses were offered, for several reasons.

1. The prevalent orthodoxy of public education
2. Lack of experts
3. Politically very sensitive subject

Which, in my opinion, is a damn shame.

Wobbles said...

In 2008, when I just entered the LKY School of Public Policy, they got Minister of Education at the time, Ng Eng Hen, to deliver a speech.

Predictably, he crowed about our excellent test results on PISA and other international tests, trying to impress upon the audience and my newly gathered classmates in the Masters in Public Policy class, just how good our education system was.

I punctured him by commenting about the prevalence of tuition. He tried to handwave it away - 'We can't stop parents from getting tuition for their children', but the damage was done. Not much was asked after that because nobody trusted his credibility.

Until the ministry itself acknowledges to the public there is a problem, this problem will persist. Even during my time in the LKY School, education was the ONE developmental area where no courses were offered, for several reasons.

1. The prevalent orthodoxy of public education
2. Lack of experts
3. Politically very sensitive subject

Which, in my opinion, is a damn shame.