WHILE other parents had to push their children to study, Mary felt blessed that her daughter was always enthusiastic about her studies. She would proudly share with other parents that she did not have to pressure her daughter, Gowri, to attend tuition classes, and that the 16-year-old would not only take the trouble complete her work ahead of time but was also always dressed impeccably.
Mary's glee, however, was short-lived when she received a phone call one day from a neighbour claiming to have spotted Gowri holding hands with a boy at a shopping mall in the afternoon when she was supposed to be at tuition.
After intensive interrogation, Mary found out the grim truth – tuition classes provided Gowri and her friends an opportunity to meet their boyfriends!
Gowri is not alone. With curfews and regimented time-tables imposed upon them, many students use tuition centres and classes as the perfect opportunity to meet and socialise.
“When I was in school, the main reason I was willing to go for tuition was so I could meet some girls. My parents were quite strict and would never have allowed me to lepak or date. That’s why tuition was a convenient way to meet girls,’’ said Eugene Stevens, 24, a computer programmer.
“Some times I would not even step into my class but would be at a stall nearby having a drink with friends – not always girlfriends. It was a common thing then and my sister, who is in Form Four now, says things are just the same.”
Tuition centres therefore serve a dual purpose – for extra coaching and for “hanging out”, even for the younger children.
Working parent Sue Moen said her search for a tuition centre for her Year Six daughter Anita was limited due to the condition imposed.
“My daughter wanted to be ‘in’ as most of her friends started tuition in Year 4. She wanted to go to the same centre her friends went to – a centre that charged about RM130 for four subjects. I was willing to enrol my daughter there even though I had reservations as I am working and would have difficulty in sending her there after school,” she says.
However, Sue decided to opt for home-tuition where the tutor would come to her house after the logistics of sending Anita to the centre did not work out.
But she encountered another problem. When she enquired at her daughter’s school about teachers who were willing to coach Anita at her home, there were none.
“Most of the teachers teach in tuition centres or in their homes to groups. They are not keen on one-on-one. Anita’s class teacher insists tuition is not vital to get good grades but I feel that kids nowadays feel they need to do what other kids are doing. My kid certainly does. Plus, she likes being with friends after school,” adds Sue.
Having friends in the same tuition class, however, has it’s benefits, says parent Amy Wee whose daughter Janet takes tuition for Additional Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Accounts.
“Janet is old enough to know that if she wants to do well, she has to work hard for it. She finds that tuition helps her to have a better grasp of what is being taught in school. Her friends are also taking up tuition at the same place. It helps to have a familiar face and also someone to share tuition notes with, in case she is absent,” she says.
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