Singapore’s education system has been described as “world-leading” and was among those picked out for commendation by British education minister, Michael Gove, last year. Perhaps, the government’s efforts in providing each child with schooling opportunities are indeed laudable, but still, parents complain of the rigid and competitive nature of this very system. So maybe, the most nerve-wrecking, mind-boggling issue on every Singaporean parent’s mind is how can my child be one of the best? Surely, the recent implementation of “Teach Less, Learn More” does nothing to ease this tension, and to study independently seems not to be the nature of our law-abiding kids, whom our Western counterparts tend to dismiss as “lacking the inquisitive spirit and/or innovation”. But it seems our parents have found an alternative to induce this ‘spirit’ – through intensive tuition.
H2 Mathematics Tuition and H2 Physics Tuition are two of the most common subjects being sort after by Singapore’s high school students to be tutored. A Sunday Times poll conducted by the Straits Times found that out of 100 students, 97 students are attending tuition. Singaporean parents are enrolling their children in multiple tuition centers, many willing to pay up to S$3000 a month engaging multiple Top Tutors- especially for higher level education, e.g., Junior College and/or higher. With the aim of establishing a robust Science Hub, Singaporean parents see the need for their child to be equipped with the necessary, and hence are willing to pay, regardless the price, for crucial science stream subjects, investing in H2 Mathematics Tuition and H2 Physics Tuition.
There are parents who prefer to engage Top Tutors for private home tuition, which are especially common for high school students dealing with more complex and difficult subjects. The rates for Top Tutors can range from S$35/hr to S$80/hr depending on the popularity and level of the tutor. Group or class tuition is also increasingly available in Singapore. Not only is it a cheaper alternative, they also feel that their child will benefit and learn more from interacting with others while asking questions during tuition – a form of inducing an inquisitive spirit. The class size of a typical H2 Physics Tuition or H2 Mathematics Tuition classes are often small for effective teaching and learning.
It may be true that many successful people come from well-off family background, and indeed, their parents may have the capital to equip them with the necessary, but how many outlier cases have we heard, where children from working class families still made their way to the top, for instance, 42nd US President Bill Clinton. Perhaps, who makes it out successful and who does not, depends again largely on the individual.