COS 2013 Debates: MOE – Tuition and Learning Support (MP Low Thia Khiang)

By MP for Aljunied GRC, Low Thia Khiang
[Delivered in Committee of Supply on 13 March 2013]

At the budget debate last year, Minister for Education seemed to suggest that tuition is quite normal as it happens everywhere all over the world and that this is a sign of parents having high aspirations for their children’s success in education.

While this may be true, is the Minister not concerned when private tuition appears to have virtually become a parallel system to our publicly funded education system?

The Household Expenditure Survey 2007 suggested that families spend more on private tuition then on university tuition fee. Private tuition fee has become a financial burden to many families, especially those from the middle-income group.

The stressful education system and the costs of educating children today contribute to the challenges in encouraging Singaporeans to start families.

I have come across parents who send their children for private tuition not because they want their children to top the class or to get into a branded school, but because their children’s test or examination results were not good and they worry that their children may fail the subject or be unable to cope with the school curriculum.

If our schools could provide the additional support for weaker students to boost their academic results to assure parents that their children are able to cope with schoolwork, it would ease the anxiety of parents from sending their children for tuition and thus incurring additional household expenditure.

Schools should also be mindful not to feed the anxiety of parents and putting unnecessary pressure on students by purposely setting difficult questions in routine assessment test to fail students in order to spur them to work harder.

MOE must reclaim the confidence of parents that the school can and will be able to educate their children and bring out their best and full potential without the need for parents to seek private tuition outside school education.