More parents are sending their children, aged between 7 and 10, for private tuition. They cite competitive school environment, crowded classrooms and changing standards of language as reasons. But there are also perceptions that extra tuition places unnecessary stress on the child, writes Rozanna Latiff
It seems to be the norm these days for children to have tuition classes to help them cope with schoolwork.
SHARON Lieu, a 36-year-old mother of three, sends her eldest daughter, aged 8, for Mathematics and English tuition twice a week.
Even though Lieu does not believe that primary school children should be attending tuition classes, her daughter's struggle to catch up with her classmates had forced the matter.
"In school, her class is so big that the teachers don't have time to help the few who cannot follow the lessons.
"Some have even told the students, 'Ask your tuition teacher' when the child says they can't understand."
Lieu said she had little time to teach her daughter on her own as she was often busy with work and taking care of her younger children.
"I wish that I did not have to send her for tuition, but it is the only way she will be able to keep up.
"I think many parents feel the same way, especially as schools have become more competitive."
School authorities and parent groups generally agree that sending children under 10 years old for private tuition was unnecessary.
Some, such as the National Collaborative Parent-Teacher Associations of Malaysia president Associate Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Ali Hasan, believe that sending pupils for tuition too early could even be detrimental to their social development.
"Children should be allowed time to play and learn at their own pace.
"Putting too much pressure on them to succeed academically at an early age means that there will be less time for them to learn to socialise or communicate effectively with others.
"Stress can also affect them emotionally."
Ali said the most important part of early education was learning the basic skills of reading, writing and counting, which weaker students can master under the education ministry's learning and numeracy (Linus) remedial programme.
He said tuition should be a measure of last resort when the student is truly struggling with schoolwork.
"It is crucial that they learn to read and count by Year Three.
"But apart from that, parents should just let children be children."
Nevertheless, the Education Ministry believes that there is little to stop parents from sending their children to tuition outside school hours.
"Ultimately, it is the parents choice.
"I'm not saying it is healthy, but parents just want the best for their children.
"If they believe tuition is the way to go, then there is nothing to stop them," deputy education minister Dr Puad Zarkashi said.
Puad, however, remained sceptical on whether private tuition centres offered the best education for children.
"The best kind of tuition allows the child to study one-on-one with the teacher.
"But most centres usually have several students to one teacher. Some centres even crowd up to 40 students in one class. So, I don't believe they make much of a difference."
By Rozanna Latiff
Source: The New Straits Times Top News 28 February 2012