Tuition, enrichment classes not the same

The letters by Mr Sng Ah Beng (“Why allow private enrichment classes in school?”; last Tuesday) and Mr Muhammad Dzul Azhan Haji Sahban (“Enrichment classes in school can be helpful”; last Thursday) both raise valid points regarding enrichment classes in mainstream schools.

Mr Sng’s letter states: “The Government has made it clear that children do not need tuition, yet the school allows a private organisation to run enrichment classes on subjects that are already covered in school.”

While it appears that some mainstream schools are contradicting themselves in this regard, there is a vast difference between tuition and enrichment classes, which many parents do not recognise.

Mr Muhammad’s letter correctly points out that “after-school programmes are beneficial to students as these allow them to learn things outside their textbooks and the national curriculum”.

Unlike enrichment classes, tuition reinforces students’ learning on challenging topics, such as maths, which require more detailed explanation and more practice by students.

Enrichment classes focus on a higher level of critical and abstract thinking, and students are expected to know more ahead of their school’s curriculum.

Both tuition and enrichment classes have their benefits, but they all depend on the students’ goals and expectations: Are they out to gain further knowledge, or do they want to strengthen understanding and learning in their weaker areas, such as English or their mother tongues?

Having private organisations run affordable enrichment classes in mainstream schools has its benefits, such as allowing students from lower-income and disadvantaged families to benefit from more extensive learning.

No child or student should be denied access to further learning, no matter what their background. Also, enrichment programmes may not be compulsory, but at least they keep students productively occupied.

Ada Chan Siew Foen (Ms)

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