SmileTutor Blog General Singapore Education News “Our education system is run on the basis that tuition is not necessary”

“Our education system is run on the basis that tuition is not necessary”

“Our education system is run on the basis that tuition is not necessary.” During recent parliament, Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah made this infamous comment that drew major controversary.

But is it really so? We found a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) showing that Singaporean parents collectively spent S$840 million on home tuition in 2013 in 2013. Moreover, another study by ADB showed that the amount of tuition has more than doubled over the past decade!

Clearly, Singaporean parents disagree that tuition is not necessary! On the contrary, the tuition industry is in fact booming and more than two-thirds of Singaporeans currently have or have previously enrolled their children in tuition! Home tuition in Singapore is even being termed a “national obsession” by PM Lee himself, who addressed the issue of ‘kiasu’ parents during his 2012 National Day Rally.

But should we really blame them?

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One of the first Singlish words a foreigner is likely to pick up in Singapore is “kiasu”

If our education system is run on the basis that tuition is not necessary, then what is the cause behind the rise in private tuition? Is it simply because Singaporean parents are ‘kiasu’, or perhaps it is our education system that makes tuition necessary?

Okay, no speculation. SMILETutor has done our due diligence and we’re here to share the top 3 reasons behind the prevalence of private tuition in Singapore. Let’s find out!

1. School + Homework + CCA1 + CCA 2 = Overload (a.k.a GG ‘Good Game’)

The Singapore education curriculum is internationally known to be extremely rigorous. As compared to other countries, our students not only take more subjects but also face more difficult exams. For instance, the Cambridge A levels only require 3 subjects, yet JC students in Singapore have to take 4 core subjects + GP + PW + Mother Tongue. Also, our A levels is modified by Ministry of Education (MOE) to make it even tougher. The question is, is it necessary to make our examinations to tough when the Cambridge standard is internationally accepted?

To make things worse, it is generally compulsory for students to join at least one Co-Curricular Activity (CCA). CCA activities often range from 2-3 times a week and the number of activities can sometimes increase when competitions/performances are near. Many students also feel compelled to join multiple CCAs and take up leadership positions in order to beef up their portfolio, as CCA records play a significant role in school selection, scholarship awards, and Direct School Admission (DSA).

With such a hectic schedule and tough exams, students struggle mightily to keep up with the pace of the school and most resort to ‘tuition cramming’ in the months before exams hoping for a miracle.

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Go do your homework! Haha, we love these memes 😉

2. Intense Competition and Lack of University Placings

Singapore exams are not only notoriously difficult, but the competition students face is also extremely high. The extreme emphasis on the importance of academic excellence by the government has led to a ‘Do or die’ mentality when it comes to academics. It is no wonder parents are sending their kids for extra tuition classes. (We feel that this overemphasis on academic performance has many detrimental effects, but hey, we’ll leave that topic to another post, okay?)‘To add salt to injury’, as we call it, there is a shortage of university placings as well as the prevalence of a few elite schools which few can enter. And of course, every Singaporean parent wants a ‘piece of the pie’! (Okay, we shall stop with the idioms… and the brackets). Not to mention the huge influx of foreign scholars and top students from China, Vietnam, Myanmar, etc. Poor Singaporean students are left to fend for their lives!

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3. There is no ‘One-Size-Fits-All’

The problem of mass education is that there is simply no ‘One-size-fits-all” approach that works. Every child has their own unique personality – IQ, EQ, Learning style, Talents and Interests. For instance, some students may be highly visual and learn more when teachers illustrate their thought process while others may be audio-learners who learn better when listening to verbal explanations. Intuitive students may like to ask questions and can develop their learning much faster if they have a personal home tutor. Some students learn faster, others may take longer.The MOE has made commendable efforts to inculcate a broad-based, all-inclusive academic environment. However, when it comes to mass education, there is simply no perfect solution. Every child is unique! (Although more efforts can be made.. for example, by reducing class sizes to below 20 like they do in Finland. Okay, enough with the brackets.)

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Singapore Education System Tuition Nation

Yay!! More Memes!

There you have it, the top 3 reasons why home tuition is so widespread in Singapore! We hope you enjoyed this blog post, and if you haven’t, do check out our Main website to find out more about SMILETutor Tuition Agency! You can also find us on Facebook and Google+!

What do you think? Do you agree with MP Indranee’s comments that tuition is not necessary, or do you think otherwise? Share your thoughts! Leave a comment below. And if you’ve found this article interesting, we highly appreciate a share! Sharing is caring, so spread the love! 🙂

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Category: Singapore Education Issues

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.