Private tuition and enrichment industry

Published Date: 13 September 2021 09:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim, Sengkang GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) whether the Ministry has data on the current total value of the private tuition and enrichment industry catering largely to school-going children and, if so, what is that total value; (b) what are the findings of studies conducted to examine the effects of the burgeoning private tuition and enrichment industry on Singapore's overall educational system; and (c) what consideration has been given towards modifying the regulations around such centres to meet the goals of providing a holistic, well-rounded education to all school-going children.

Response

1. MOE does not track the total value of the private tuition and enrichment industry, or expenditure on such services. Based on the latest Household Expenditure Survey (HES) conducted from 2017 to 2018 by the Department of Statistics (DOS), resident households on average spend $112 a month on private tuition and other educational courses.

2. MOE recognises that the reasons for taking up tuition are varied. It is important to be able to distinguish when it is desirable and when it is not. For example, tuition can benefit students who are genuinely in need of more dedicated help in coping with their studies. This is why our schools cater additional resources to students who need extra help, and also partner Self-Help Groups to provide additional academic support to those who need it. We also know that, at heart, many parents send their children for tuition out of care and concern for their child, as they may worry about whether their children can cope with their studies and examinations.

3. We are concerned, however, when parents send their children for tuition excessively, or to ace examinations even when their children are coping well with their school work. This diminishes our students' ability to learn independently, adds to their workload and stress, and runs counter to our philosophy of holistic education and nurturing lifelong learners.

4. Introducing regulations to the private tuition and enrichment industry to address unnecessary reliance on tuition is unlikely to be effective, if the underlying reasons why students and parents take up tuition are not addressed. Overseas experience in countries such as South Korea thus far have shown that restrictions on tuition are generally ineffective at reducing demand. We continue to monitor new developments, such as the new regulations in China that Mr Yip Hon Weng has referenced.

5. Therefore, our approach is to address the fundamental issues that drive the demand for tuition. In recent years, we have progressively introduced several policy changes under our Learn for Life movement, to nurture in our students the joy of learning, reduce the overemphasis on academic results and change the mindsets and attitudes of parents and students to adopt a broader definition of success.

6. Since 2019, we have reduced school-based assessments significantly to provide students more time and space to deepen and pace out their learning. We are changing the PSLE scoring system this year to reduce fine differentiation of examination results, and will roll out Full Subject-Based Banding across secondary schools by 2024 to provide students greater flexibility to learn at a pace and rigour suited to their strengths and interests. We have also continued to broaden the definition of success by expanding Direct School Admission to secondary schools, as well as aptitude-based admissions to ITE, Polytechnics and Universities.

7. Our reforms will take time to bear fruit. Reducing the over-reliance on private tuition requires not just policy shifts, but a long-term partnership between MOE, parents and the wider community to change mindsets. Together, we can build a culture where our children are self-directed in their learning, develop more holistically, and find joy in the process.

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