Longer school hours will not tackle tuition problem

Forum writer Koh Yeow Koon suggested in his letter that primary and secondary school hours be extended to full-day sessions, borrowing the principle of competitive exclusion to address the situation of excessive focus on academia. He is of the view that would tackle the "tuition" problem (Extend school hours instead of banning tuition; May 12).

This recommendation seems unfeasible.

While I concede that there must be more to an education than just academic achievements and that schools play a direct role in implementing this, longer school hours can backfire.

There should be more to a child's life than time at school.

Children must have free time to themselves as this encourages them to exercise choice over how they would like to spend it.

They can hang out with friends, explore the community, interact with parents and develop interests in varying areas. Such time is necessary for the healthy growth of a child's mind and body.

It also empowers them to think creatively and independently. It is doubtful that a planned curriculum would have the same impact.

Longer school hours will not tackle the heart of the problem of tuition in our country.

Instead, it slams the problem with a blanket solution that breeds more problems of its own.

On Facebook, many parents raised concerns that longer school hours will compromise family time and their children will be too tired.

Instead, schools can try to improve the current peer tutoring system. Having participated as a tutor myself in primary school, I feel that a sustainable approach is to grow a culture of helpfulness and care for people around you.

Helping your peers because you want to and not because of incentives also embraces the spirit of volunteerism.

Valerie Chua Yan Tong (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2018, with the headline 'Longer school hours will not tackle tuition problem'. Print Edition | Subscribe