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【The Standard:Study in the UK】Take a leaf out of their book?

Boarding 101


Education, a determination to excel and fervent ambition lie at the forefront of a large number of high-stakes Asian societies. In certain states, such as Singapore, the commitment which students are showing to securing top grades in the International Baccalaureate exemplifies this driven mind-set which is only set to intensify.

I have written before about the need for parents to help their children maintain a reasonable semblance of work/life balance. Now that I am informed about what is happening at tuition centers in Singapore, my viewpoint has certainly not altered.


What is happening in Singapore?


It seems that new schools and tuition centers, rightly or wrongly, are playing on several notions: regular school lessons are boring which causes problems with completing homework assignments and the inability to recall content.


The result is a lack of knowledge in the exam hall which may cause parents and teachers to criticize students for being lazy. This then leads to excessive private tuition and homework.


It is a vicious circle of events. So private establishments have stepped in to shake things up.


For IB results last year, Singapore produced a national average score of 38.5 as well as an impressive total of perfect scores. Essentially, Singapore is dominating results wherever you look.


Mainstream school teachers in Singapore are generally held in high regard so the only logical conclusion to draw from these results and the widespread desire for tuition is the meaning of “high stakes” is a little more extreme than it seems.


Compared with A levels, the IB is intended to be more holistic, where practical skills that can be later applied in the real world are honed.


Tuition centers may broadly emphasize that they offer students perspectives about their coursework ideas but I have my concerns. First of all, how can a child enjoy the “practical” elements of a qualification when he or she is overburdened with extra tuition and theoretical input? Secondly, how can a “successful” student keep up the pace at university when burnout and exhaustion may well set in?


Understandably, parents have compulsive feelings to ensure their children have a competitive edge, which is where private tuition comes in. Humans are instinctively prone to copycat behavior – if everyone else has a tutor, why shouldn’t we?


I view these gray and uncharacteristic tuition centers and I think to myself – understandable – but what for a child’s health and well- being?


Samuel Chan is the managing director of Britannia StudyLink. 

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