Fighting the tuition wars

Fighting the tuition wars

SINGAPORE - Madam Hong Tan Chuen insists that all her three children take private tuition.

The florist, who runs a stall in Bedok North Road, calls it her "mission in life" to ensure that her sons, 15, 14 and 11, are "armed with the best to help them gain a firm footing in society".

The affable single mother, 44, admits in a mixture of Mandarin and Cantonese that sometimes she finds it hard to cope financially.

"Running the business is not easy. It's hard to make ends meet sometimes, especially after the kids' father 'disappeared' (since 2007). "It's this reason that I want my children to do well in their studies."

Tuition, she reckons, will give them the head start in school. She considers their results average, even though her two younger children get mostly As and Bs. Her eldest son, she adds, is "hopeless" with mainly Bs.

Madam Hong defends her definition of their grades: "It's not like they are getting straight As. That is considered good."

She is miffed when this columnist brings up Senior Minister of State for Education, Ms Indranee Rajah's comments Parliament on Monday.

She had heard some comments on the radio, but she needed more details from this correspondent. On Monday, Ms Indranee said the education system was run on the basis that private tuition was not necessary.

She added that for children who perform well, tuition was counter-productive as it added stress. The minister also said that weaker students could go for remedial and supplementary classes in schools and community schemes.

Madam Hong shakes her head in strong disagreement and says: "My sons are all in neighbourhood schools. The teachers are okay but you can't expect the best from them."

She offers her second son's results as an example. He was in the top 25 per cent in his cohort and received the Edusave Merit Bursary for three consecutive years.

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