Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tuition Extortion

I've written about the tuition "crisis" in Malaysia earlier after the New Straits Times (NST) postulated that the tuition market is worth some RM4 billion (!) per annum. I'm sceptical about the actual amount spent, but agreed with the general arguments raised about "too much tuition".

The tuition debate continued in the NST which was blogged here in "More Tuition Tales". But for the very first time in the published press - it was cited that "teachers [are] not doing their part". One of the parents, En Hamidi Osman, a construction worker from Selayang actually described tuition classes as "a form of extortion"!
He claimed the teachers would perfunctorily go through their lessons during school periods, only to end the session with something amounting to a sales pitch: "If you want to learn more, then come to my tuition class after school."

"This is what they told my son and his classmates and what it means is that they would have to pay extra money for what should have originally been taught in class." Hamidi said the teacher, and others like him at the same school, would charge RM25 per subject per student per month for two extra sessions a week which are conducted after school.
En Hamidi didn't think that his son's grades improved with the tuition classes either. "It seemed like he was not really getting any extra coaching, but only the rest of the class lesson," he said.

En Hamidi isn't the only one who is complaining. Apparently he is one of some 50 parents who have complained to the Umno Youth Public Complaints bureau about this issue. As the bureau head, Datuk Subahan Kamal rightly pointed out:
"What we are afraid of is a conflict of interest in these teachers. They teach the bare minimum in their class lessons. Then they say they will charge for extra lessons in the same subject. Should not these extra lessons also be taught in their class at school?"
"But what of those parents who cannot afford such extra classes? Does this mean that their children will be automatically left behind? And what is the purpose of paying annual school fees and taxes if their children can’t get the full lesson in class?"
Tiara, a passionate advocate of 'alternative education', wrote recently on her blog, "EducateDeviate, Learning Without Boxes" about the similar situation faced by her in school. of the administrators came to our class and tried to compare our tuition attendence to our mid-year grades. Grades were pretty similar (low) for everyone else though she picked on those who, like me, skipped the tuition classes. She then got to me and noticed that I was top of the class and had better grades then everyone. She looked at me and said that my grades would be so much higher - if I came to those tuition classes.
The secretary general of the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP), Loke Yim Pheng have clarified that such practices were forbidden in a circular issued by the ministry some 10 years ago. But the circular probably isn't enough if there isn't active enforcement.

While he argued that parents should complain to the school authorities with regards to such cases, the matter is actually a lot more complex than that. Parents who lodge a complaint with the school, but is not successful with having actions taken against a particular teacher may just have their children incur the wrath of the teacher resulting poorer teaching and bias against them. It is also not inconceivable that the school authorities like the headmaster is sympathetic towards the teachers (for various possible reasons) which will result in a tougher time for the student whose parents have made a complaint.

The Ministry of Education needs to take the entire complaint exercise seriously and treat each complaint with the necessary respect and confidentiality. Malaysia, at this point of time, lacks a culture of transparency as well as one which protects whistle-blowers. Until such a time where both transparency as well as protection for whistle-blowers are in place, and the public trusts the system, parents and students are likely to have to suffer in silence and be at the mercy of mercenary and unscrupulous teachers.


Ju Vern said...

As a student, I should know all about tuitions. In fact, I had to attend tuitions as there was no other way I could have passed my exams if I didn't.

Imagine this,
Your BM teacher strolls into the class,
"Ok, hari ini semua tulis karangan, tajuk kat papan hitam."

We diligently complete our tasks and guess what, that's the only piece of homework he gave us the whole year. And he didn't even bother to return our written karangan to us.

How can we learn?

I had to attend tuitions to be on par with my classmates. No other way.

And you had to book a few years in advance for a place in a tuition class if the teacher is in hot demand. No kidding! Few years!

Our education system is fast deteriorating and no action is taken yet..Sigh..

Boss Stewie said...

Lets give teachers the benefit of the doubt. Most of the teachers I know are not extortionists like these ones. Lets not let a few bad apples spoil the whole basket

Isaac said...

erm... I was a temporary teacher in a Kebangsaan school and I dare says that some of them are not doing their job. (not even expect to see them do it well)

opps... I find myself a private additional math tutor.

LYL said...

My primary school ( Used to be one of the top one in KL until a principal from another school was transfered in. Take a guess. Its the onl chinese school located at Jalan Raja Laut.)had this tuition mentality. The school hours were already long enough ( 7.30 to 4.15. Morning and afternoon sessions were compulsory. Afternoon session was Singapore syllabus, but tuition normally starts at 4.30 to 6. Hence, the students were in school almost half a day!

Anyway, such teachers used to exist in my school Then, the school implemented that teachers who are teaching a subject cannot give tuition in that particular subject.

I think such a system could be useful to curb such unethical practises.

As for tuition teachers who are hot in demand ... well , there is a physics n chemistry teacher in Bangsar who requires a minimum of one year booking prior to enrolment. I'm sure this is not an isolated case, as my brother's BM teacher, a former examiner, requires roughly the same time too.

Eric said...

Hmm...I agree that below average student wont benefit much from tuition class because the teaching pace is too fast for them

But how about "Home Tuition"? The tuition service that a tuition teacher goto your house? I feel that this is the more effective way to have the tuition.

If you think It's costly, you can get some of your friends to join you together to share to cost of the tuition fees.

I am in Home Tuition Business for past 10 years and I feel that most of my clients will improve after taking home tuition. Just my 2 cents

joel said...

Anyway, such teachers used to exist in my school Then, the school implemented that teachers who are teaching a subject cannot give tuition in that particular subject.
Maybe a better way to curb this form of 'extortion' is by not allowing teachers to give tuition to students from their own school.

Lets give teachers the benefit of the doubt. Most of the teachers I know are not extortionists like these ones. Lets not let a few bad apples spoil the whole basket
I think the situation defers from school to school. Therefore I think the responsibility of ensuring that 'extortion' doesn't happen, lies in fact in the hands of the principals.

In my school, teachers not only do not 'shortchange' their students, they give FREE extra classes and are always available after school for one-to-one consultations. For the record, I did not attend any tuition classes in Form 6 and scored almost perfect scores (except for one 'minus'). I believe the teachers had a role in my success.

Anonymous said...

My tuition teacher used to tell us that "We can only assist 10% in your learning".
That is so true to me.

Durng my secondary, i attended this tuition centre,
where almost everyone get to improve their knowledge from what i can see except for me.
Because i was quite a lazy bum that never really interested in studying even i attend tuition all the time.

My main point is,
relying and blaming on the teacher for being inefficient is essential,
but the main thing is still the student's will to learn and do things by himself or herself.
If he/she don't, the best(est) teacher in the world could not help at all.