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Govt has no intention to ban tuition, but parents should take a step back and give children more space: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE – The Government has no intention to ban tuition, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (Sept 28), reiterating that doing so would be akin to just treating the symptoms of a rigorous education system.

Mr Ong said that MOE will develop ways in the coming years to support teachers and parents in areas such as re-calibrating parent-teacher engagement practices and providing parents with useful tips to support their children in both academics and development of their character and soft skills.

Mr Ong said that MOE will develop ways in the coming years to support teachers and parents in areas such as re-calibrating parent-teacher engagement practices and providing parents with useful tips to support their children in both academics and development of their character and soft skills.

SINGAPORE – The Government has no intention to ban tuition, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (Sept 28), reiterating that doing so would be akin to just treating the symptoms of a rigorous education system.  

“We can come up with many initiatives to tackle the symptoms,” he said at a press conference where he announced changes to reduce emphasis on grades such as cutting down school-based assessments.

“One can even argue this cut in assessments, we are treating symptoms,” he noted.

“But we hope this is a meaningful step to really go a lot deeper for us to soul-search as parents and students and educators (on) what really is a more optimum way of teaching our children, for the joy of learning, to cultivate and nurture curiosity. Because they will really need it for the rest of their lives.”

In his speech at the closed-door Schools Work Plan Seminar on Monday (Sept 24), Mr Ong told educators that even as the Ministry of Education (MOE) are taking major steps to reduce emphasis on grades, there are some things that are beyond the ministry’s or schools’ control.

Examples include parents comparing notes in WhatsApp group chats as well as sending their children for tuition and enrichment classes.

“I have no intention to heed the calls to ban tuition,” he said at the seminar. “Parents do this out of care and concern for their children, and many do-gooders in the community conduct free or low-cost tuition to help weaker students cope with their studies, and that’s a good thing.”

But he also spoke of “negative tuition stories”, including feedback from students that going for tuition is stressful and exhausting.

“Worst, they find that learning is not fun as a result and lessons have taken over their days and weekends,” he added.

“So there is room for parents to step back, give children space to explore and play.”

On the MOE’s part, there is also room to review how educators engage parents, as this could have at times contributed to the latter’s anxieties.

“For example, some teachers will WhatsApp parents telling them to ensure that their children complete their homework and also list what homework to do,” he added.

Though educators meant well, Mr Ong said such messages “create expectations for parents to monitor their child’s homework very closely and can cause anxieties amongst parents, especially working parents”.

Worse, he noted that some parents may develop a reliance on those messages, adding that educators “can be more mindful” on how they shape children’s and parents’ behaviour.

“So, we need to change our language of communication with parents – away from ‘they have to get their work done’; ‘examinations are important and a lot is at stake’; or ‘this is how their results are comparing with their classmates and peers’ to the question that matters most for young students, which is: ‘What makes your child’s eyes light up?’”, he noted.

He added that MOE will develop ways in the coming years to support teachers and parents in areas such as re-calibrating parent-teacher engagement practices and providing parents with useful tips to support their children in both academics and development of their character and soft skills.

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