Recently, Straits Times carried a forum letter suggesting to extend school hours instead of banning tuition. This came about because of another article by lecturer Kelvin Seah Kah Cheng of the National University of Singapore, who argued why banning tuition in Singapore would only make things worse. Seah felt that banning tuition, would only create a black market for tuition services, and might even push up tuition fees since tuition service providers face additional risk of legal punishment if they are caught. (Btw this is a premium article. #Justsaying.)
So the writer of the forum letter felt that instead of banning tuition, “the principle of competitive exclusion could be borrowed from ecology to curb the popularity of tuition”.
Huh? Basically, reduce demand for tuition la.
And so, his suggestion was for primary and secondary school hours to be extended to a full-day session, so this will lessen the time that students can spend at tuition.
Siao right? If I am a primary school or secondary school student, I will be damn sad la. Life of a student would be within the walls of a school and home. What about hanging
out with friends and after school activities?
The writer also said that the extended hours can be used to help weaker students with extra lessons and provide enrichment programmes in sports, or encourage active participation in CCAs. In addition, schools will have to increase their employee headcount and hire those leaving the shrinking tuition centre. Caregivers will also have more free time to take up full employment.
Well, to be cooped up in school all day just for enrichment classes feels like punishment, and more so for poorer performing students. Would it make them more motivated or would the longer studying hours drain them further and make them hate the subject even more? If the problem lies with the teaching method, spending more time would just be futile efforts. And, will the weaker students feel different compared to their peers who are exempted from remedial classes and can participate in enrichment programmes?
Longer hours in school also means that teachers have to spend longer hours teaching and looking after their students. With an existing workload that is heavy enough, would this pull or push people to or away from the teaching profession, considering that they would have to endure a longer work day?
To be fair, the writer of the forum letter came with good intentions of trying to solve the tuition problem la. But his suggestion would be over-simplifying the issue. After all, kiasu-ism has been deeply entrenched in our culture, coupled with greater academic expectations and competition, the tuition problem is definitely not as easy it as seems.
Good try, but no thanks.