Monday, November 10, 2014

Not a cent to $1 billion on tuition

My daughter pointed this out to me yesterday. She had often told me how almost every classmate except the scholars having tuition. How they are often ahead of her in class, but with only two multiple choice papers left and given the experience of her older sister before her, I am fairly certain she would do better than most of her classmates who have had tuition.

I always tell her that what mattered is how you finish the race. Too many parents use tuition as a security blanket. Top students at RI and HCI signed up for tuition to be triply sure they get their As. They don't realize this is a bad habit that would serve them very poorly in working life. The elder girl often tell me that most of her project mates are not confident and insecure about their work. That is from a cohort where at least 90% of them have four As. They have not much thinking skills and try to use their scoring skills for university.

It takes more than a decade to learn that in many situations tuition isn't that useful. Today kids brought up on tuition is not likely to serve this on their children. As our society mature we will come to rely less on tuition. I don't expect to see the industry hitting $2 or 3 billion dollars.

As the desire to gain an edge over others will never cease, the tuition industry will have to adapt. This is going to be an exciting and constantly changing space. My wish for the industry is to evolve to become more inclusive, relevant and useful beyond exams. For that to happen their customers must be far more informed and sophisticated. And we will not call it tuition.


  1. I understand that a small percentage of students will still do well without tuition. However the same cannot be said for a vast percentage from the average and below band where they cannot keep up with schoolwork and literally told by well paid teachers to seek private help. Most parents just want their kids to at least float with the system, tuition kind of ensures that. I hope to see the day when our ministers send their children to ITE and show that it is good for them. They should put their money where their mouth is. Reality is, they are just as kiasu as the average parent, though with better "connections".Till then, MOE is over pushing the average kid and cramming too much.

  2. Hi, can I ask for your permission to reproduce this post on our SG tutoring portal at We will cite pengyou as the author, and make mention that the post first appeared on your blog. Hope to hear from you soon! :)

    1. Sure. Just said you reproduce this from this blog with permission. Not necessary to mention "pengyou"

  3. see what happens when they commoditise education! The tutors are just making parrots out of students getting the right questions (and answers). Worst, some money-oriented tutors only accept "smart students" so their success rate is as good as the students. How can the poor compete - no wonder the income gap gets worst.

    Just the other night, I was treated to a talk by some image-promoting "guru". He showed a bell-chart with a small percentage earning big income and the rest earning mediocre. He rattled off with ideas as to how to get to that top tier. wouldn't that worsen the income gap inequality.

    No doubt people like him will milk money from "selling courses, ideas and assists (like helping to publish books) " to those who cannot think out such simple strategies themselves!!