Students will still go for tuition after extended school hours

Mr Koh Yeow Koon recommended extending school hours as a potential means to curb the popularity of private tuition in Singapore (Extend school hours instead of banning tuition; May 12).

The proposition appears untenable considering the very objective of tuition - to grant students a competitive edge over their peers in Singapore's ultra-competitive school environment.

Extending school hours does not directly counter the incentive of giving children an extra push in the fiery academic race.

Students may thus continue to enrol in tuition lessons after the extended school hours as is the case in South Korea, where it is common for students to attend tuition classes until past midnight.

This suggestion also does not take into consideration the fact that students may run an even tighter tuition schedule during weekends.

Extending school hours to cover all seven days in a week would be unfeasible and impractical.

Meanwhile, it is important to take into account the opportunity cost of such a suggestion.

Intensified co-curricular training sessions may further add on to the stress of students who have to balance their academic and non-academic commitments.

Also, rather than an increase in headcount, running an extended schedule in schools often involves existing teachers working overtime, which could pose a substantial administrative hurdle.

While more personnel such as coaches and instructors may be needed, these tend to be specialists who are unlikely to come from the pool of private tuition practitioners.

National University of Singapore lecturer Kelvin Seah Kah Cheng has rightfully pointed out that the true remedy to Singapore's tuition frenzy lies in tweaking the education system and overcoming the intense rivalry among students (Why banning tuition will only make things worse; May 10).

This is, however, no easy feat and structural solutions are required to bring about effective changes.

Zhang Zhi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2018, with the headline 'Students will still go for tuition after extended school hours'. Print Edition | Subscribe