(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?
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.
For this reason, the OECD report shows that kids born to better families do much better in school as compared to Finland and even Shanghai as well as Hong Kong.
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.