High hopes for tutors' grouping

(From left) The new group's vice-president Wynn Khoo, treasurer Tony Chee, president Anthony Fok, secretary Gary Ang and vice-president Irwin See.
(From left) The new group's vice-president Wynn Khoo, treasurer Tony Chee, president Anthony Fok, secretary Gary Ang and vice-president Irwin See.PHOTO: THE ASSOCIATION OF TUTORS (SINGAPORE)

From training courses to more recognition for their contributions to learning, tutors here hope the new tuition association will help raise the shadow education industry's standards.

Last month, 10 tutors set up an association for their peers and registered it as a society.

Mr Xavier Yue, head of curriculum at School Plus, hopes the association will take the tuition industry to new heights for the benefit of students.

The 31-year-old said that tutors now work on their own, without much support from others. "Hopefully, with the association, tutors can work together to help students learn better."

Ms Ong Ai Ling, 36, would like seminars by fellow tutors on their experiences, as well as courses for tutors to upgrade their skills.

The co-founder of Winners Education Centre, who has been a full-time tutor for 13 years, said the tuition scene has become increasingly competitive, with more centres set up by ex-teachers and businessmen.

"Other than imparting knowledge to students, we need to be equipped with skills on motivating the students, getting them to be interested in a subject and also communicating with the parents," she said.

Like many others, Mr Lim Wei Yi, co-founder of Study Room, hopes that there will be more recognition for tutors.

Mr Lim, who has six tutors working with him, said that many teaching awards are limited to teachers in schools.

"It is important to acknowledge the work in the enrichment industry after school hours as it too contributes to the quality of education in Singapore," said Mr Lim, 36.

He has been a full-time tutor for the past four years.

However, Mr Lim added that a formal association might stifle the flexibility that tutors currently enjoy.

They are generally happy to be left "doing their own thing", he said.

He said that some former teachers become tutors because they can "do what they like - teaching - without the drawbacks", such as dealing with a heavy administrative workload.

Mr Joel Liu, 31, said the tuition industry is becoming a "very profitable" one, with top tutors highly rewarded.

"Good educators deserve to be recognised, but the focus should not be on profit-making," said the founder of Bright Culture Tuition Centre.

"The objective is still about helping students with their academic pursuits."

Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2017, with the headline 'High hopes for tutors' grouping'. Print Edition | Subscribe