Commodification of everyday life has nurtured consumers to rely on the consumer’s market for their desires, most of the time exposed solely to the benefits and oblivious to the negative effects of the product; Accruing the convention of heedless consumption as long as the consumers have the purchasing power, in this case fueling demand for private tuition. (Jin, S. , n. d. ). Next is the practice of meritocracy. The ideal of meritocracy is cultivated by the differential in abilities of students. Concept of studying thus shifts from learning to a competition between students for better grades.
Guided by this mentality, parents are inclined to provide a form of leverage to their children by sending them for private tuition. Even if they do not concur with this direction, they would be compelled to follow in fear that they might render their children in disfavor when majority of the parents do so (Soh, Y. D. , 2013). Blackbox Research Pte Ltd (2012) provided the following on the consensus of Singaporeans on private tuition: • 80% of Singaporeans believe that tuition is beneficial to children’s education, especially average students • For
Singaporeans with kids currently enrolled in tuition, 1 in 2 spend more than $500 a month per child • Almost 1 in 3 Singaporeans (23%) think kids should start tuition in pre-school, before they begin formal education • Two-thirds or 67% of Singaporeans currently have or have previously enrolled their children in tuition • 46% of Singaporeans think tuition is necessary for kids to stay competitive with their peers Arguments for Private tuition Private tuition is a prospering market which improves Singapore’s economy.
According to Mong Palatino, “More than 90 percent of primary students are enrolled in after-school tuition centers while parents spend an estimated $680 million annually on tutoring services. Soon, it will be a billion-dollar industry” (2013, para. 1). Private tuition is a good form of coaching for students that are weaker and having trouble following the pace of teaching in class. Increasing the academic performance will not only help the student, it also boosts the reputation of Singapore’s education system. Higher number of educated Singaporeans in the workforce will in turn enhance Singapore’s economy (Palatino, M., 2013). Arguments against Private tuition Government schools might lose quality teachers to private sectors which results in loss of confidence in parents towards government sector. This might in turn attract more parents towards private sector (M. Nirmala, 2013). Rising cost of quality tuition teachers or centers might be unaffordable for average income household, creating exclusive private tuitions for the rich. This will increase the disparity in academic development between the rich and poor which contributes further in the poverty gap (Stacey Chia & Matthias Chew, 2012).
To gain competitive edge, Students might abide long study hours for school and private tuition leading to imbalanced lifestyle. Singapore might become the next South Korea where students typically study up to 12 hours a day depriving them from having a fulfilling personal life. 17 year-old Inchae Ryu from South Korea said “I have no time to think about my future or my dreams”(Sistek, H. , para. 5, 2013). This might aggravate the stressful learning environment for Singaporean students. “36 per cent of children rated failing examinations and tests as their “greatest fear”, compared with 17 per cent who cited the death of their parents orguardians”(Hetherington, J. , 2012, para. 2). Conclusion Singapore government may improve the situation by regulating Singapore’s educational system to a more dynamic, practical based learning experience instead of copy and pasting information during examinations. Sociologist and Former Nominated Member of Parliament, Paulin Straughan said “we free the school from this obsession of testing, and the teachers and educators can focus on teaching and learning, and if we do that, more young couples would be willing to grow larger families”(Lim, R., ‘Obsession’ with testing, para. 4, 2012). Rather than tackling the issue at a superficial level using rigid control methods, constituents of the matter can be traced back to consumerism as discussed. Perhaps a radical review on the existing educational framework needs to be done to determine the connotation of education in Singapore. Should it be a dissemination of functional information for extending human capacities or a tool manipulated by pecuniary dominion to sustain our economic system?
Schools are being transformed into commercial rather than public spheres as students become subject to the whims and practices of marketers whose agenda has nothing to do with critical learning and a great deal to do with restructuring civic life in the image of market culture. Civic courage–upholding the most basic non-commercial principles of democracy–as a defining principle of society is devalued as corporate power transforms school knowledge” ( Giroux, H. , Stealing Innocence: Youth, Corporate Power, and the Politics of Culture. New York: Palgrave, 2000, page 173. ).