This blog is managed by Song Hock Chye, author of Improve Your Thinking Skills in Maths (P1-P3 series), which is published and distributed by EPH.

Friday, December 07, 2007

S'pore education system works - with tuition (ST Forum)

Straits Times Forum 30 Nov 2007

S'pore education system works - with tuition

THE Minister of State for Defence, Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee, praised the Singapore education system in his article, 'Singapore's education system works' (ST, Nov 24). There are two issues which need clarification.

Prof Koo commented that 'without the GEP, many outstanding students from working-class families in neighbourhood schools would not have been able to move to the good schools'. Is he implying that neighbourhood schools which do not offer the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) are not good schools? That all GEP schools are good schools?

The annual Primary 1 registration is already stressful for both parents and schools. Some parents, eager to put their children in 'good' schools, clocked up numerous hours in volunteer work, only to find that they did not have the luck of the draw. Then there are parents whose children had already secured places in such schools. Fearing that their little ones might not be able to cope with the demands of the school, or to give their kids a leg up, they enrolled them in enrichment programmes and, thence on, it is tuition all the way till the PSLE.

Implying that neighbourhood schools are inferior to GEP schools is being very unfair to non-GEP schools and their teachers. Moreover, this puts additional pressure on some parents to get their children into GEP schools.

Prof Koo concluded his article by pronouncing that the Singapore education system is one that works. I do not refute this, but there is a missing addendum - with tuition.

It is a well-known fact that a large proportion of our students, from pre-primary all the way to pre-university, have tuition.

Some children are so reliant on tuition that even though they score above-average grades, they would insist on continuing with tuition the following year, for 'security' reasons.

Students in schools with the integrated programme (IP) are supposedly the cream of the crop, yet there are many who have tuition. A few centres have been called 'IP tuition centres' because of their large number of IP students.

When a child says that he does not have tuition, but his parents coach him using assessment books, that is tuition in a sense.

So, Singapore's education system does work - with tuition.

Ng Kim Yong (Mrs)

Do you agree with Mrs Ng that Singapore's education system is highly dependent on tuition?

Feel free to give your comments.

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