SINGAPORE - The national debate about tuition was reignited in Parliament on Sept 16, when Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah, in her reply to Nominated MP Janice Koh, said that "our education system is run on the basis that tuition is not necessary".
Straits Times journalist Chua Mui Hoong declared in a subsequent column that, contrary to the comments made by Ms Indranee, parents who spend a significant portion of their household income on tuition "clearly think that tuition isn't unnecessary".
I remember having lunch a few years ago with one of the most senior civil servants in the Ministry of Education (MOE). This person, while chatting about tuition, whispered that his own children had private tuition. I am sure this is the case with almost all MOE administrative service personnel and, I believe, even the children of politicians.
I don't think they are hypocritical. But I do think they face a dilemma. There is a big gulf between policy intent, outcomes and expectations. Policymakers accept that tuition is necessary for their own children as a short-term solution. But it is not one they will proclaim publicly.
Many observers cannot understand why tuition is so common in Singapore when the country's education system is one of the best in the world, possibly second only to that of Finland. Why is it that Finland does not have a tuition culture like we do?
Currently, I run one of the largest tuition franchises in Singapore. My aim in writing this article is to educate the public on the proper role of this often-misunderstood industry.
Clearly, the popularity of tuition is a symptom of several serious deficiencies in our education system.