Tuition for sports?

Tuition for sports?

Every Wednesday, Rachel Seet is rushed from Marine Parade to Bukit Timah just for tuition.

She gobbles up her lunch after school at 1pm and makes a quick change before she sprints out of the door for evening lessons. Rachel is only 10. Her tuition is not in Chinese or mathematics.

That's reserved for other days of the week. Books and stationery give way to sports gear that she takes to her "tuition centre" - the Ministry of Education's Co-Curricular Activities Branch Stadium at Bukit Timah.

She spends two hours watched by eagle-eyed professional track and field coaches from Fabian Williams Coaching Concepts. They watch her every stride, correcting the budding 100m sprinter's running posture and technique. Yes, Rachel, like several other children now, is put through sports tuition.

This is on top of the track and field training sessions with her own primary school. Those are conducted twice a week for two hours each time. On some days, it's a 7am to 7pm day for Rachel. She's part of a growing trend as parents push their children to excel in sports so that they can enrol in a school through the Direct School Admission (DSA) programme.

Last month, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said in a written parliamentary response that about 15,000 DSA applications are received by secondary schools each year. But only about 2,800 students - or 15 per cent - get a place .

With such fierce competition, Rachel's parents felt she wasn't doing enough, even with eight hours of extra curricular activities a week. So earlier this year, they signed her up with Fabian Williams Coaching Concepts, hoping to bolster her success on the track.

"She's doing fine in school, but we cannot rely on PSLE grades alone," said Rachel's mother, Ms Joyce Neo, a housewife in her 40s. "So we decided to push her in other areas that could give opportunities for her to enter the top schools."

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