The new Pioneer Generation: Freelancers

THE PRIVATE TUTOR: Quality time with daughter and students

Madam Noorhana left her previous job teaching maths at an enrichment centre and now teaches students in her four-room flat in Choa Chu Kang on Mondays to Wednesdays.
Madam Noorhana left her previous job teaching maths at an enrichment centre and now teaches students in her four-room flat in Choa Chu Kang on Mondays to Wednesdays.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Higher pay. And something more than mere money - the chance to make a difference in the lives of her only child and struggling learners.

That is why Madam Noorhana Kairi left her part-time job tutoring primary school pupils at an enrichment centre to go freelance as a private tutor.

She now makes double the $320 that the enrichment centre paid her each month at a rate of $15 an hour, says Madam Noorhana, who holds an engineering diploma from Singapore Polytechnic.

She is one of a growing group of Singaporeans who have decided to forgo employment perks such as medical and maternal benefits and the security of a fixed income for a flexible schedule.

Madam Noorhana decided to turn freelance in January this year, leaving a job she had held for six years, to give private maths tuition. Three students come to her four-room flat in Choa Chu Kang on Mondays to Wednesdays.

  • FAST FACTS

  • NAME: Madam Noorhana Kairi

    AGE: 35

    JOB: Tutor

    A FREELANCER FOR: Four months

    EARNS PER MONTH: $640

    ADVICE FOR OTHER FREELANCERS: "It is important to be passionate about what you do. If you love your job, you will want to do it well."

This gives her flexibility to spend time with her daughter, aged 13 and who is in Secondary 1, and also satisfies her desire to help young people.

"I am very satisfied when I manage to help (my students) understand difficult concepts," she says.

FAMILY FIRST

It's a promise I made my husband 13 years ago, to be a wife and mother first.

MADAM NOORHANA KAIRI, who says she never regretted her decision to focus on her marriage and the daughter she eventually had.

"I've always enjoyed working with people, especially children," she adds.

It was this desire to go the extra mile that frustrated her in her previous job teaching mathematics at an enrichment centre in Yew Tee.

During her time there, she developed a love of teaching and formed close bonds with her students.

She would stay back for 45 minutes - beyond the two hours required - to help weaker students, because a class size of 16 made it difficult for her to focus on those who needed extra help.

However, "sometimes I would cry at night because I couldn't do more to help them in class", she recalls.

But now, as a freelancer, "I have the chance to spend more time with students and help them with their schoolwork".

Indeed, her altruistic nature led her to leave her first job out of school, as a chemical engineer, for a less prestigous role as a customer service officer at a telecommunications company.

At the same time, she enrolled in an early childhood course because she wanted to work with children.

But problems with her pregnancy forced her to quit her job and studies.

"It's a promise I made my husband 13 years ago, to be a wife and mother first," she says, adding that she never regretted her decision to focus on her marriage and her daughter.

But there are downsides. Madam Noorhana worries about having enough to retire. However, she does not want to sacrifice time with her daughter.

Her engineering husband, 43, is the family's main breadwinner. They have paid off their flat.

"I spend a lot of time with my daughter," she says.

Madam Noorhana saves her weekends so they can go out for "photowalks", as she calls them, and shopping.

She is looking to expand her pool of students, but being a mother and wife are her foremost responsibilities, saying: "The times we have together as family are priceless."

Aw Cheng Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 10, 2016, with the headline 'THE PRIVATE TUTOR: Quality time with daughter and students'. Print Edition | Subscribe