Tuition may not address root cause of situation.

From: Laremy Lee
Date: April 5, 2009 2:44:01 PM GMT+08:00
Subject: Tuition may not address root cause of situation.

Dear Madam/Sir,

I refer to the article “Tuition fee subsidies for the needy” (April 5).

It seems to me that the intention of establishing the Community Tuition Fee Subsidy Scheme is to provide additional academic assistance for students outside of the formal education system.

While I applaud this effort, I wonder if this measure actually allows us to address the root cause of the situation – the quality of education in schools.

I acknowledge that in a minority of cases, the extra help from tuition lessons is necessary, as some students genuinely need more time to learn.

However, the need for tutoring outside of formal education could also point to either the schools or the students themselves being inappropriately equipped to fulfil their roles.

In the case of the former, a better solution would be to target the issues that teachers have been raising for years, such as a reduction in student-teacher teaching ratios from the current 40:1 to a more manageable 20:1. Alternatively, having later school starting times to allow students more time to rest could result in greater attentiveness in class, as studies have shown.

In the case of the latter, students and their parents should consider alternatives to formal education. For example, students could consider home-schooling, or even taking ‘gap years’ – an extended time-out from school if students are unwilling to pursue their academic aspirations at a certain point in time of their lives.

Hence, the Community Tuition Fee Subsidy Scheme should not be seen as the be-all and end-all to our educational woes.

Rather, the stakeholders in education – students, parents, educators and policy-makers – should be pro-actively exploring ways in which we can improve upon or provide alternatives to formal education in Singapore.

I feel that this will definitely be a better utilisation of our financial resources in the “poor economic climate”, as has been noted in the article.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,
Laremy LEE (Mr)

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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