February 24, 2009

#57 Extra Tuition

Malaysians are an enlightened lot. Such is the continuous need for edification that any Malaysian is readily available to absorb knowledge from the grapevine or the Internet as well as dispense expert advice to anyone willing to listen. The source of their information may not be completely legitimate but no one pores over tiny details like credence.

It is also a necessity to enrol Malaysian children in private or public tuition from ages as young as 7. You might think this is typical of demanding and pedantic, over-achieving parents but really, it's quite the norm for any Malaysian parent. Because Malaysians can't stand the fact that their kids aren't developing at the same rate as everyone else who's learning the same syllabus from the same materials taught by teachers from school at their after work jobs.

Public tuition centers cater to groups of students who attend classes in the evenings, absorbing expert insight and surveying their fellow classmates (this is a plus point of tuition centers if you're from an all boy/girl school). Public tuition centers boast experienced tutors who have lists of accolades and achievements unfamiliar to most but always profess to have tips on topics in the major exams. These claims are sometimes proven true due to the high probability of topics being repeated by exam preparators drawing inspiration from ancient and predictable syllabus material.

Parents who can afford to, spring for private tuition. Private tutors can leave a lasting image on their students. Some deliver results. Some deliver mediocrity. Some deliver beatings. Private tutors often do not come from educational backgrounds. They're normally comprised of overeducated but underpaid individuals looking to gain an extra buck and to impose their sanctimony on unsuspecting children. Occasionally these tutors will relate stories of their school days and missed opportunities which led them to where they currently are. This is a recommended form of punishment for students to be used by tutors who don't condone violence but wish to inflict narcolepsy through nostalgia trips.

The period in which major examination results are released is always an exciting time for everyone involved. This is when everyone gets to see the fruits of their labor. Tuition centers will be quick to publicise successful individuals in promotional materials or think of new ways to recruit students. Private tutors will either become elusive or increase their teaching rates. In the long run, it's all worth it because these extra classes, intensive tuition, mental torture and grade inflation all result in more and more educated individuals who eventually contribute to the country's brain drain or statistics of the national unemployment rate.


Anonymous said...

Just wished we learned more in school in the 1st place. Asking our most senior Msian's (even our parent's), they all only used private tuitions if a subject is not offered in school or such. Not like us from the 90's till today:

go home & have lunch
go home & have dinner

Is it compulsory now to go to school if most students depends on private tuition classes? Might sit the public exams as independent candidates then. Speak up and let's discuss.


Anonymous said...

Parents are so kiasu now - my neighbour sends her daughter for Maths tuition in Ampang, Science in Cheras, Bahasa tutor comes to the house and God knows where she goes for Mandarin classes....


Aidan said...

My friend used to go for two different lessons for the same instrument. She cried when she got a B for BM. She'd probably attempt suicide if she knew that I got a B3 and she got a B4.

Tuition helps I guess to some extent (ie. failing Maths to getting A2) but they should have tuition for life skills/social skills/common sense.

B.H. said...

Amrit, Jessica Rabbit and Aidan,

Thank you for your commentary and anecdotes. For some reason I can't think of anything I can contribute to your statements that would complement them.

But I do think our education system detracts from the learning experience itself. Where is the pure, unadulterated joy that's derived from knowledge for knowledge's sake?

Sadly, we only learn more to earn more.


nurinkhairi said...

Indeed, children go for tuition since their early age. In some ways it deprives them of time for some other extracurricular activities (piano,abacus etc) or even if they attend those, that could only add burden to their already-packed schedule. I was lucky coz I never been to tuition and yet managed to score all As in all exams . i wasn't bragging or anything! just showing that without tuition you can still excel; you need effort and self motivation. But I guess nowadays we need tuitions to motivate us and help us rather than teachers at schools

kaioucat said...

First, the weaker ones go for tuition to improve. Then the not-so-weak ones see the weaker ones improved due to tuition, so they decided to go for tuition to be better, and then those who didn't care to improve decided to go for tuition because they didn't want to lose out, and then the very best students decided to go for tuition so they don't get outdone by those who went for tuition. It's a vicious cycle stemming from one inherent Asian culture - kiasu-ism.

The Mask said...

So sad!

Tuition centers are sprouting everywhere like a disease. Poor kids.. I rarely, or barely see children(between ages 7 to 12) playing in the condo playground.

By the way..
I really want to take you out for coffee! - minus picture taking. I don't own a camera.


Amrit said...

Hey Nigel,

When is the next post coming up? It's been awhile! :P


Michelle said...

Art and Graft??
Grafting what?
I wouldn't go for tuition in that centre wherever it is.

Ishita Srivastava said...

Hi B.H,

I know that your blog is more personal-narrative, but I think that you might be interested in our work which is relevant to the Asian-American community in general. I am trying to spread the work about Breakthrough's Executive Director, Mallika Dutt, who is being honored by the Asian American Justice Center this Thursday, October 1st in D.C. If you have the opportunity please post! We're trying to spread the word.


Contact: Sandy Shin (sandy@breakthrough.tv); (212) 868-6500

Mallika Dutt Honored with the American Courage Award by the Asian American Justice Center

New York (September 28, 2009) – Breakthrough’s Executive Director, Mallika Dutt, will be honored by the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) with the American Courage Award on October 1st.

Created in 1997 by the AAJC, one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations, the American Courage Award is bestowed upon an individual, company, or organization that has shown extraordinary courage or commitment to the cause of civil rights.

The award ceremony will take place on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., with Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) providing opening remarks. Anita Botti, Deputy Director of the President’s International Women’s Initiatives InterAgency Task Force, will present Mallika Dutt with the American Courage Award on behalf of Ambassador-at-Large, Melanne Verveer. Gloria T. Caoile, respected labor rights leader and Senior Political Director of the Asian Pacifica American Labor Alliance (AFL-CIO) will receive the Distinguished Service Award, and Edison International, the largest electric utility company in California, will receive the Bridge Builder Award.

Mallika Dutt has a long history of activism and commitment to social change and has addressed global issues ranging from women’s rights to racial justice and immigrant rights. For the last decade, she has been spearheading efforts to stop the erosion of fundamental human rights in the United States, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11.

Most recently, Breakthrough has partnered with the AAJC, along with 25 other leading organizations, to produce Restore Fairness, a powerful documentary that calls on the government to bring back due process to immigration in the United States. (www.restorefairness.org). Restore Fairness features interviews with Members of Congress, immigration judges, and individuals directly affected by unfair immigration policies.

Restore Fairness follows the successful launch of the groundbreaking video game ICED – I Can End Deportation (www.icedgame.com), and interactive website End Homeland Guantanamos (www.homelandgitmo.com), two multimedia initiatives that have brought national attention to the harsh impact of unfair detention and deportation policies on immigrant communities.

“I am deeply honored to be the recipient of the American Courage Award,” said Mallika Dutt. “We hope that our collective efforts will result in new immigration policies that respect fundamental American values of fairness and due process.”

About Breakthrough

Breakthrough is an innovative, international human rights organization using the power of popular culture, media, and community mobilization to transform public attitudes and advance equality, justice, and dignity. Through initiatives in India and the United States, Breakthrough addresses critical global issues including violence against women, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, racial justice, and immigrant rights.

For more on Breakthrough's human rights programs, please visit www.breakthrough.tv.

Thank you,

Ishita Srivastava.

4 West 37th Street
NY, NY 10018

polka_dots35 said...

Haha! When I was in Malaysia, I had many tuition classes from the age of 7. It is due to the pressures of competing against the high achievers in your class.
I was enrolled to tuition classes, because I was placed in the "smartest" class in my year level and had to compete with extremely intelligent and diligent classmates. It was the only that ensured my positioning in that class.
Thank goodness I never had to endure UPSR!

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eda said...




xenobiologista said...

Does anybody else think it's bloody pathetic that the kids in our country who need tuition the most - those from poor families - can't afford it and the ones who can afford it, probably don't need it? In the USA the only kids who receive extra coaching outside of classes are the ones who are seriously behind and it's free (speaking from experience as a volunteer tutor).

Anyway, tuition doesn't actually make you more intelligent. It's the same boring rubbish that your class teachers pound into your heads during the day, the tuition teachers just give you an extra pounding. I went for BM tuition during my SPM year and really don't think it improved my understanding or appreciation of the language. (What did was reading the Sejarah Melayu on my own, and Hishamuddin Rais' hilarious columns in Malaysia Today.)

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