Tuition culture has to go, say MPs
SINGAPORE — Several Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday urged Education Minister Heng Swee Keat to do something about the nation’s pervasive “tuition culture” that has got out of hand.
Kicking off the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Education, Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) said he was concerned that tuition would become a “crutch” for students to the point that they “have lost the skill of self-directed learning”.
Mr Lim, who is also the Government Parliamentary Committee chairman for education, was one of six MPs who spoke on the students’ over-reliance on tuition, which many say is due to the country’s stressful and competitive education system.
Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) noted that the tuition culture is so pervasive that even polytechnic students go for extra classes.
Mr Png Eng Huat (Hougang) urged the MOE to conduct a nationwide survey on the issue.
“Is MOE not curious enough to study why parents are sending their children for extra private lessons despite having access to one of the best educations systems in the world?” he asked.
Despite government efforts, Singaporeans still have the mentality that getting good grades is the ticket to securing good jobs and a bright future, MPs noted.
Such thinking is perpetuated by programmes such as the Gifted Education Programme (GEP), where parents are still fixated on certain top schools, said Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong.
Calling for the re-examination of such historical structures in the education system, Mr Yee said: “We need not have this competition. We can spread the programme developed for GEP across more schools, and also widen our definition of giftedness.”
In the same vein, Mr Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) suggested setting a quota in each school for academically stronger students in order to help spread such students across more schools. This will allow parents to see beyond cut-off points and focus on distinctive programmes in secondary schools, he said.