According to a survey on education and tuition, parents paid RM80 on average a month for each child. Determined to give their children every advantage, roughly two in three Malaysians with schoolgoing children pay for extra coaching...I have my personal doubts on the extrapolated figure purely because the survey sample is so small - only some 500 parents with school children. But that's another matter altogether. We all know that the number of students attending tuition classes in the country is enormous.
Some 1,029 people were polled in the survey commissioned by the New Straits Times. Half had schoolgoing children. And two-thirds with schoolgoing children paid RM80 on average a month. When the finding is extrapolated on a national level, it indicates that as much as RM360 million is spent a month on tuition, or RM4.3 billion a year.
The Secretary-General of National Union of the Teaching Profession, Loke Yim Pheng was apparently not surprised. She claimed that "most parents find it tough to deal with subjects now taught in a language different from what they learnt in school." I would think that it is a little over the top to blame the size of the tuition economy on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English.
Anecdotal evidence tells me that tuition today is an essential element of going to school simply because the teachers in school are doubling up as tuition teachers in their homes. This is a widespread practise, despite it being a breach of regulations (if I'm not wrong).
The result of such blatant tuition practises by school teachers is a major conflict of interest by the teachers themselves.
- I have heard many stories of teachers witholding information in school classes and "teaching" them only during their tuition classes.
- Even during my time in primary school, I have seen wholesale test papers circulated in a tuiton class prior to the actual test in school.
- As a result, students and parents who are interested in doing well have "no choice" but to attend the after school tuition classes conducted by their teachers.
- Even if the teachers practises "strict" and ethical separation between conducting classes in school versus their own tuition classes, there will be a tendency for parents and students to take up the extra classes "in case" certain additional tips or leaks are provided.
If the extrapolation of the statistics proved to be true, the clearly there is a large proportion of teachers who are involved in these activities. How else would the entire "underground" tuition economy be otherwise supported? There just cannot that many non-school teacher tuition teachers who can support the teaching two-thirds of students in Malaysia!
For those interested, degree-holders teachers in Singapore start their working career with a basic pay of S$2,200 (or RM4,800), 4 times more than Malaysians. Not only will there be less incentives to seek extra income, it'll also attract the best candidates to the profession.
The Ministry of Education needs to seriously relook at the entire remuneration and career advancement package of teachers in Malaysia. Read also my post on "Quality Teachers" earlier.