A tutor was recently revealed to earn a mind-boggling $830,000 - on average - a year, and the tuition industry is estimated to be worth about a $1 billion according to a recent report. CATHERINE ROBERT and NG JUN SEN speak to parents who say they feel the pinch of paying for tuition, but have no plans to stop any time soon.
Her Primary 2 boy got straight As last year, but his mother was worried that she did not start him on tuition and enrichment classes early enough.
Despite scoring between 88 and 92 marks for his subjects, he was placed in the third quartile of his cohort.
"Which means he was not among the top 50 per cent," says his mum, Mrs Jaclyn Chew, 41.
Her son, who attends an all-boys school in north-eastern Singapore, was crestfallen after he asked his parents how he fared.
"I had to tell him the truth about where he stood compared to his peers," Mrs Chew says.
"It's just bizarre that with his grades and the tuition, he's still in the lower half of the grade spectrum."
Mrs Chew suspects that his peers are having more tuition classes than her kid is. She feels guilty and wonders if she should have started him on extra help earlier.
She says: "I have friends who start their kids on enrichment classes at the age of four.
"Even though I'm not one of those competitive parents, I'm now thinking of sending my six-year-old son for tuition before he starts Primary 1."
Right now, she has two school-going children - the eldest, a 10-year-old girl, gets help for Chinese and science, while the boy gets help for Chinese.
They have two tutors for Chinese: One who focuses on Paper 1's composition, and the other on Paper 2 which comprises a comprehension passage and questions.
Mrs Chew and her businessman husband spend about $900 on the kids' tuition monthly.
She reckons that the expenditure on tuition will only grow as her third child prepares for Primary 1, and her fourth, at 10 months old, joins his siblings in several years' time.
"I have registered my elder daughter for another creative writing class next year and I foresee signing my elder son up for more classes as he gets older too," she adds.
Although they live in a condo and her husband owns his own company, Mrs Chew says: "No matter how much one earns, you are bound to feel the pinch when paying for these fees.
"Sometimes, when I consider getting myself a new dress or two, I think of using the money for tuition instead, and I ditch the idea of buying things for myself.
"No doubt it's money well spent, but it doesn't come without a little sacrifice."
She adds: "As my kids get older, it's going to cost more for us as a household but it is something that has to be done."
This article was first published on Nov 16, 2014.
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