Tuition centres that mix work and play

Students taking a break to revise or get a snack at the Recharge Cafe in Real Education Centre, Clementi, yesterday. In the face of rising competition, more tuition centres are offering free added services along with teaching.
Students taking a break to revise or get a snack at the Recharge Cafe in Real Education Centre, Clementi, yesterday. In the face of rising competition, more tuition centres are offering free added services along with teaching.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Some teenage boys are engaged in a game of foosball. At a corner nearby, a group of girls are busy scrolling through their Facebook feed while munching on snacks available at the reception area.

This is not the latest youth hangout spot in town, but a tuition centre in Toa Payoh.

The Physics Cafe, started by former Raffles Junior College physics teacher Dave Sim, offers perks such as an in-house cafe and spaces to relax after school. Mr Sim, 36, said: "We are creating an environment where it is cool to study hard, and students appreciate that."

The education centre, which specialises in physics and mathematics subjects, takes in more than 800 secondary and junior college students each year. Started six years ago, it moved from its former Bishan and Marymount spots to a larger place in Toa Payoh this year.

After their classes, the centre's shuttle bus services send students to MRT interchanges such as Jurong East and Paya Lebar.

Noting that some students spent more than 11/2 hours to get home previously, Mr Sim said the services "save them a lot of time".

 
 

"We felt that we needed to send them home, because by the time they got back, it would be quite late," he added.

Amid greater competition, tuition centres are offering services, on top of the promise of results.

These include opening up rooms for students to revise before and after tuition classes and providing free snacks and drinks.

At Real Education Centre in Clementi, there are study spaces for its students and their friends.

Students do not need to go through the hassle of looking for a place to study, said Mr Keng Jun Hao, 24, the centre's managing director. "We understand that some students study better in groups. Thus we allow them to bring their friends as well."

Free drinks and snacks, including ice cream, are also available.

Second-year Pioneer Junior College student Sabrina Yap, who is taking her A levels this year, has been with the centre for over a year.

Miss Yap, 18, appreciates the extra perks at the centre. "I can focus on my studies without having to think on an empty stomach," she said. "It also keeps me awake."

Mr Keng said: "My goal is to create a place for the students to learn and improve and, at the same time, make them feel at home."

Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2016, with the headline 'Tuition centres that mix work and play'. Print Edition | Subscribe