Sending their two children for tuition is costly, and in recent months, housewife Sujata Devi, 44, and her husband Rajesh Natarajan, 43, who works in the IT line, have had to cut back on their expenses.
Their daughter Annushiyaa Rajesh, 16, who is sitting her O-level exam in three months, has been attending mostly one-to-one lessons for five of her eight subjects, two more than last year. Earlier this year, 10-year-old son Anirudh Rajesh, a Primary 4 pupil at Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School, started attending tuition for mathematics and Tamil.
The fees for their tuition lessons add up to over $1,500 a month, up from about $700 last year.
"I can guide them through simple questions, but I know only that much," said Madam Sujata, adding that they seldom speak Tamil at home in their four-room Housing Board flat in Bishan.
They avoid eating at restaurants, which they used to do at least three times a month. They visit food courts instead.
Last year, the family made trips to nearby destinations like Bali, Bintan and Malacca. But this year, they went only for a one-day staycation four months ago. "We, as parents, want to give our children the best," Madam Sujata said. "Hopefully, with tuition, they can do well, and go to good schools."
After resigning from her senior human resource executive position in 2011 to look after her children, Madam Sujata did without a domestic helper. She now does most of the housework but her children help with the chores. Annushiyaa does the dishes after dinner, while Anirudh waters the plants daily.
Both children appreciate the sacrifice their parents have made for their future. Annushiyaa, a Secondary 4 student at Crescent Girls' School , said: "It is good to have a tutor to clarify my doubts because I do feel lost sometimes when I attempt past-year papers, and my teachers may not have the time to go through them with me."
She added that her grades for subjects like Tamil have improved.
Despite sending her children for tuition, Madam Sujata, who now runs an online business selling Indian ethnic wear, still goes through their homework daily.
"It doesn't mean that with tutors, automatically there will be results," she said. "Parents still need to be involved in their children's education."
This article was first published on July 4, 2015.
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