Call to stop tuition centres promoting ways to game system

Stop tuition centres from actively encouraging parents and students to game the education system.

This was the call from Assistant Professor Mahdev Mohan yesterday. The Nominated MP said such centres put up advertisements that are much like slimming pill ads, which promise incredible results and are equally insidious.

"They suggest that an A* grade in Chinese can be secured in just 24 hours. They suggest that you can be guaranteed a Primary School Leaving Examination score of 279, much higher than I ever got," he said.

Such centres which engage in false advertising should be regulated as they promote gaming the system and a preoccupation with grades, said Assistant Prof Mahdev, one of five NMPs who raised a discussion on "Education for Our Future" in Parliament yesterday.

"They extol quick solutions, and well-to-do parents will fork out the cash for these quick solutions."

Similarly, Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) highlighted how Singapore continues to be a "tuition nation".

Citing a recent survey of 1,200 respondents, she said that tuition is no longer about helping those who are not doing well.

The findings showed that 72 per cent of parents polled who sent their children for tuition did so even when their children were already performing well in school.

This rat race seems to be starting at even the pre-school level now, said Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC).

"We now have kindergarten assessment books, tuition for pre-school children and even homework for nursery kids," he said.

Early childhood education needs to encourage more play and exploration - which would change mindsets towards tuition, he added.

"Education for our future cannot just be about academic pursuit, about grades and about students who suffer from high levels of anxiety. And this definitely cannot be the case for our pre-school children."

Amelia Teng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2018, with the headline 'Call to stop tuition centres promoting ways to game system'. Print Edition | Subscribe