Parents want Sinda tuition to cover more subjects

Parents want Sinda tuition to cover more subjects
Seven year old Kamalakanan Kumar doing his sums at the Sinda STEP'EM UP tuition programme which aims to give primary one and two students a sound foundation in Mathematics and English.

Since 1992, students weak in English, maths and science have been improving their grasp of these subjects through Step - the Singapore Indian Development Association's Sinda Tutorials for Enhanced Performance.

But can the programme, which has benefited more than 60,000 so far, be extended to include other subjects such as Tamil?

This was one of the questions raised by 45 parents of students in the Sinda flagship programme at a half-hour dialogue session with Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.

Responding, Mr Tharman said: "The main emphasis of Sinda, from the point we started up till now, is to help them in their weakest subjects. And the weakest subjects are mathematics, science, and for some of them, English."

Sinda is also not against teaching other subjects, pending demand, and is in talks with the Singapore Tamil Teachers' Union to see if Tamil can be included in the programme.

Mr Tharman is also the chairman of Sinda, the Indian community's self-help group.

Under the programme, tuition classes are conducted on weekday evenings and weekend mornings for students at Primary and Secondary levels. Each class comprises no more than 10 students.

Mr Tharman noted that Tamil language performance has been good, but "the main gap between the Indian students and the national average, compared to the Chinese students... is in mathematics (and) science".

The Step programme, aimed mainly at children from low-income families, helped 3,500 students last year.

In addition to a one-time payment of $5 per subject, primary school students pay $10 per subject each month while secondary school students pay $15.

The programme costs Sinda about $2,000 per child per year on average, and a total of about $6 million to $8 million a year in all.

Most of the programme's teachers are certified with the Ministry of Education.

This article was first published on April 2, 2015.
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