The Business of Education or The Education Business (Part 1)



graduation graph600. That’s the latest figure as reported by the Department of Statistics regarding the number of tuition centres in Singapore. From a mere 387 in 2004, the number has almost doubled in less than a decade. Who’s to say that the digits will not surpass four figures by the time our children graduate from university? Dubbed the ‘Tuition Nation”, Singapore owes its reputation to many ‘firsts’ – from our economy, to our convenient mode of transport, right through to being an all-in-one tourist destination. Our education system, while far from perfect, is well-oiled in producing students well-equipped with 21st Century Skills complementing the Desired Outcomes of Education. So it is no surprise that households spend $820 million a year on both centre and home-based private tuition. Call it ‘kiasuism’ or practical and wise decision-making on the part of parents, tuition is here to stay and the need for it remain as parents make sure their children understand that it's more important to finish well than it is to finish first.

signs directionsThere are many kinds of tuition services being provided. For example, ‘tuition’ in learning centres tend to be a lecture-cum-tutorial in groups that are typically more than five in size, with some even up to 30 0r 40 students in one class, whereas ‘home tuition’ is commonly understood to be one-to-one tuition in the student’s home. From the early days where group tuition was just about completing worksheets, past year exam papers and examinations from ‘elite’ schools, we now have individualised consultations where the tutor or ‘coach’ teaches one student who needs help, while the rest are given relevant work, and then moves on to inspect the work of another student or attend to one who needs help. To match the growing demand of the diverse education systems, centres now ‘specialise’ in promoting themselves with programmes to cater for students in the Integrated Programme (IP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and even prepare those for the Direct School Admission (DSA). There are even those who jump on the bandwagon of neuro-psychology and motivation and believe that such attributes do play a significant part in academic excellence. We therefore have centres championing the ‘right’ and the ‘left’ brain enrichment, and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

In Part 2 of the article, the writer suggests several yardsticks as to how parents and guardians can evaluate and assess the appropriate enrichment centre to enroll their child into, and also certain pitfalls to avoid. Click here to read more.