Mailbox: Reward those who excel without tuition

It is comforting to know there are still parents out there who resist the temptation of tuition ("It's a struggle, saying No to tuition for the kids"; last Sunday).

When my son was in pre-school, my neighbour constantly cajoled me to send him for tuition to prepare him for Primary 1.

For me, tuition is for when he has problems with lessons taught. Tuition is not a preparatory course for the next level, nor a head start. In that context, how could I send my son to tuition classes when I did not even know what he would be weak in, if at all?

Tuition is highly misunderstood and misused; it should be for students who genuinely need help in their studies. It has become a "dirty" word, but it seems to be the norm.

It is easy to say that is the way our society and education system work. But, it is the people who make a society and system. Unless we change the rules, our society and system will maintain the status quo.

Perhaps schools can maintain a database of their students' results, and the authorities can centralise this database and a registry of all tuition centres.

At the end of each academic year, students who fare above a pre-set performance level without tuition get some marks added to their final grades, enough to make a meaningful difference.

This is to encourage students to be self-motivated and work hard on their own.

Parents may also be thus incentivised not to seek tuition for their children at the first opportunity.

Hopefully, this will rebalance the need for tuition and give our children more time to explore their interests beyond the classroom. This will be a truly holistic education, and creates a better study-play balance for our children.

- Wendy Yuen Woon Yoke (Ms)

This article was first published on November 9, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.