Parents hire tutors to do kids' school and tuition assignments

Her child is burdened with so much tuition, school assignments and co-curricular activities (CCAs) that he is finding it tough to cope.

Madam Irene Tan's son, a Secondary 3 student in a top boys' school says: "It gets so crazy some days that I just want to give up school. I don't mind the lessons but I hate doing all the stupid homework."

So what does Madam Tan do?

A. Cut down on tuition?

B. Help him with his assignments herself?

C. Hire people to do his school and tuition assignments when he is too tired to do them?

Yes, it's option C.

Madam Tan says: "If my son does not get enough sleep, he will not be able to focus in class and that's definitely a no-no."

She pays the specialised tutors $200 per hour if they have to swing by before midnight and $250 an hour when it's later. She found out about the tutors through word-of-mouth as they do not advertise.

The tutors are on her mobile phone's speed dial.

But how does that help her son?

Madam Tan says: "They will finish whatever homework (that is) left while he goes to bed."

The tutors do what he can't finish so he can get some sleep. And, they don't have to explain the workings or formulas.

She says: "It's not like my son doesn't know how to do it. He just does not have the time."

Madam Tan insists it's fine because it has not affected her son's grades.

"The tuition that he gets is to help him master the subjects and prepare him for the major tests and exams," she said.

"And he has managed to consistently score As for all the subjects."

A check on the boy's result slips showed that he has not slackened even after the specialist tutors were hired since last year.

The New Paper on Sunday polled 80 parents outside some elite tuition centres and found that nearly half had hired or will hire such tutors.

One such parent who also gets tutors to do her daughters' homework is Mrs Pauline Soh. Her daughters are 11 and 14.

But her reason for wanting such tutors is different from Madam Tan's - her tutors are hired to help with her children's assignments from the elite tuition centre.

Given that the centre demands students get consistently good results, Mrs Soh, 40, a civil servant, says it can get tough for her daughters to cope with "mounting school assignments plus the extra homework".

He daughters take English, mathematics and science at the tuition centre.

Aside from the academic classes, her daughters also has ballet, piano and art classes. Her younger daughter also gets tuition for Higher Chinese.

The older girl is in an independent school.

She says: "It took my daughters nearly a year before they were given a place in the tuition centre."

Mrs Soh, who lives in a condominium in the east, says: "After all that effort, it'd be such a terrible waste if they had to give up their spots for others on the waiting list just because they cannot finish the work."

She adds: "I try very hard not to let the tutors help with the school homework as well so that my girls won't be too spoilt."

She sets aside an extra $500 to $700 a month for the specialist tutor for each child.

Mr Ong Kwee Lam, 39, who has a 10-year-old son, says he knows of friends who have paid for such services.

The architect reckons that if the need arises when his son gets to secondary school, he "will not hesitate" to do the same.

Says Mr Ong: "It's nothing illegal. At most, you can only argue whether it's morally right or wrong.

"It makes no difference if my child ends up copying his homework from his classmate. At least, with a tutor, I can be sure that he'll get it right."

A secondary school teacher in a top girls' school says she has not come across any such cases among her students.

But she admits she has heard about it from her peers in other schools.

Says the English head of department: "It came as a shock when I first heard about. It's so totally wrong.

"How can any parent condone this or, worse, encourage it?"

The teacher adds: "Should we discover that any of our children here are guilty of this, we'd not hesitate to haul them up for disciplinary action."

Madam Dawn Chionh, 44, feels it's fine for parents to send their children for intensive tuition but not in this manner.

Her daughter, who is in Secondary 1 in an Independent School, also has tuition at an elite centre.

Madam Chionh, a housewife, says: "What kind of values are we teaching our kids? That it's okay to 'delegate' your work?

"It's downright dishonest."

Mr Wong Ju Ping, 36, managing director of Lynn Tuition Centre, says he has heard of this practice among his students.

Says Mr Wong: "Teaching is like selling; you cannot make a sale unless someone buys. You have not taught unless someone has learnt.

"Parents who resort to such tactics (think) they know what is best for their children."

But, he adds: "Perhaps they could allow their children to learn experientially so they will adopt greater initiative and self-direction, which happen to be two of the skills under the (Ministry of Education's) 21st century learning competency framework."

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