Monitor quality of teaching in schools

  • Letters
  • Thursday, 30 Jan 2003

I REFER to your comments (V.K .Chin, The Star, Jan 23) about the steps taken by the Education Ministry to monitor the quality of education offered by private tuition centres.  

I think you have really hit the nail on the head when you said that the success of private tuition reflects poorly on the education system and is “evidence that teachers in national schools are not performing as they should.” 

It is true that some parents send their children to tuition classes to give them an edge over their classmates, or to keep up with the Joneses. 

It cannot be denied, however, that there are pupils who feel they need to attend tuition classes because they are not being taught properly in schools. 

Some teachers do not have mastery over the subjects that they teach. Others are often missing from the classroom because they are attending meetings and courses (a very common occurrence in recent years). 

Yet others may skip their lessons to do favours for the principal to get into his or her good books (no thanks to the system of appraisal for salary increments).  

Besides, teachers are often overwhelmed by miscellaneous non-teaching duties at certain times of the year. 

They may have to collect fees, complete particulars of their students in the class register, record marks in report books, organise various school functions like PTA meetings, Speech Day, Open Day, etc. 

Undoubtedly, tuition centres and home tuition will continue to flourish. Instead of wasting time trying to monitor the quality of tuition offered, the Education Ministry should instead concentrate on monitoring the quality of teaching in national schools. 

Provide teaching assistants. Have smaller class enrolment to allow for more individual attention and more effective teaching. 

Pupils in schools have no say in the choice of their teachers. They have to put up with whomever is foisted upon them by the ministry. 

On the other hand, they can choose their own private tutors. Indeed, an incompetent tutor or a sub-standard tuition centre will soon go out of business. The private tuition industry is self-regulating.  

Unless the Education Ministry puts its own house in order, pupils who want to do well have no choice but spend time and money on tuition classes. 

Their parents may not be rich and so they have to fork out their hard-earned income for this purpose. 

Sadly, taking tuition classes has become a necessary evil for many pupils and this takes up valuable time that would otherwise be spent on wholesome hobbies and extra-curricular activities.  

Our educational philosophy aims to provide a well-rounded education. The education system is supposed to nurture the pupil’s mental, physical, spiritual and emotional development. 

How can this be achieved when pupils spend most of their time attending tuition classes after school and even on weekends?  

It is high time the Education Ministry took a long, hard look at the quality of education in national schools.  

HELEN YEANG, Kuala Lumpur. 


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