The Role of Tuition In Singapore's Education System

By A Group of Unnamed Secondary Four Students

Tuition is popular due to education system issues.

The role of tuition in Singapore is indeed often-misunderstood. However, one many also argue that Tuition has rather became a necessity in Singapore. We as students do understand the stand of professionals and academics on their take of the role of tuition as to whether or not it is necessary, but from what we have observed and seen as members on the receiving end of this meritocratic system, we do not necessarily agree.

First of all, we would like to address the increasing trends amongst writers and academics on their comparisons of the education systems between Singapore and Finland, often claiming that Singapore's education system is one of the best in the world and is only second to that of Finland. We have different views, however. Singapore and Finland's education systems run on different ideological beliefs. Finland operates its education system on the model of egalitarianism, where everyone is given fair and equal rights and teachers are given full autonomy over their teaching styles and methods. Students there are given basic education for up to 9 years without being tracked and streamed, after which there are allowed to choose a secondary education either in an academic or vocational tracks.

However, this isn't the case in Singapore, which operates its education system on a model of meritocracy.

Meritocracy, as we know, is a system where people of talent, deserving people, are allowed to achieve success at the utmost top of their fields through the success ladder. However, is not this ideology also trying to secretly imply that those who do not achieve that much success deserve to be at the bottom i.e. not deserving people? This seems to be a rather harsh and extremely theoretical ideology which seems great on paper but, not at all taking into account the human factor.

Our main purpose of writing this e-mail is to convey the motion that tuition in Singapore is becoming more of a necessity rather than a choice. Generally, parents are always seeking for top tuition centers to enroll their children in regardless of the degree of their child's academic performances. For example, some parents still want their child to remain in tuition even though the child maybe achieving great success in their academics, just out fear that their child may not be successful as other children. Paranoia has seemed to take over this country's parent's by storm who seem extremely concerned over their child's performance so much so that the main purpose of attaining education has been totally lost. Creativity. Knowledge-building. For us, all that seems to matter now is generating top-notch results and maintaining them. And by achieving this, students are “qualified” to enroll into a “top” school.

The main focus of education here is seemed to be erased. Singapore’s education system now, as we see, is mainly just about producing talents and creating a pool of talented people which would be able to contribute to the society in the future. It does not seem(to us) to encourage creativity and room for knowledge to grow; outside textbooks and worksheets, although we often insist otherwise.

The Ministry Of Education in Singapore has constantly emphasized the need for a character-based education, with many policies to help create a less stressful learning environment for students.They have also constantly emphasized that "every school is a good school", to reassure citizens of our well-informed and politically correct society that their child will receive the best possible education they could never attain elsewhere. Despite this, many parents still maintain the mindset that their child will only succeed if and only they get enrollment in a top school. This has therefore created an education system where despite the education that a child receives in School, they still are obliged to enroll for tuition despite MOE claiming that "tuition is not necessary". Maybe we could also go back to the article and pick up a section where even a senior-MOE personnel has his kids enrolled in tuition. Is this what we may call Irony? Maybe not, given the current stance of the tuition-driven education system in our society, where tuition has become more of an obligation rather than a choice.

For many students, learning today means going through tons of notes and writing down a myriad of formulas without actually knowing the reasoning behind them or fully understanding the meaning of their very existence itself. A bulimic-approach to education, if you will, where students are fed with information only to regurgitate it out in ink on papers during examinations.

However, many students still do have the will to learn and explore, and we truly appreciate that and practice it ourselves.

A product of globalization and industrialization, mass education today in Singapore is becoming more "bulimic-approached", along with the prioritization of enrollment in tuition.

We sincerely hope that you would understand our points of view and opinions and consider them.

This was reproduced with permission from editors of The Real Singapore.


A good school is one that our kids can fit in and enjoy going to everyday.

More Tuition Isn't Always Better.

Some tuition teachers figured out the system and beaten it, which is why they got so rich.