Tuition can be unhealthy: Expert

Retired teacher Ho Kong Loon, 65, says: "There's no need for tuition if the student is doing well. "The trouble is parents demand it because they want their kids to do well, and schools tolerate it because they want their rankings to go up."

National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan agrees.

Those who continue with tuition despite improved grades will have a "crutch mentality", says the associate professor.

"It's not healthy because a child is not realising his or her potential," she maintains. "Where is the independence to achieve things on their own?"

Mr Ho adds that if students are not interested or motivated to have tuition, "any improvement (in grades) will be marginal".

Some students says they take tuition to score even better marks, or to beat the system.

Brian Foo, 18, a National Junior College student, who has tuition in economics and maths, says: "A tutor helps you tackle hard questions (and teaches you) how to manipulate the content of what you've learnt to answer the question."

His reason does not surprise Associate Professor Straughan as "enrichment classes and tuition centres serve to teach students to be exam-smart, rather than independent thinkers".

As for those who do not take tuition, many of them feel it is unnecessary as they can do without it.

Dylan Wong, 15, from Whitley Secondary School, says: "There's already too much homework from school. Having tuition will add to the stress."

Melvin Chia, 16, also from Whitley Secondary School, admits that he cannot afford to have tuition.

But he says: "The teachers in my school are good and they are willing to help."

That should be the way to go as "schools are already providing supplementary and remedial lessons", says Mr Ho.

Tuition centres, however, serve to create "anxiety" in parents, Associate Professor Straughan believes.

She says: "Parents have become insecure - it's not good enough to pass exams any more - you have to be in the top 10 or 1 per cent.

"Why? Because our education system has become too competitive with all the elite tracks that we've created.

"And we've invested so much in our children, equating advanced education with upward mobility for the family - all this is fuelling the tuition industry and stressing the child."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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