Tuesday, December 27, 2005

4 Billion Tuition Fees!

Yes, that's if the survey conducted by the New Straits Times is accurate.
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...

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.

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.

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.
Enforcement against these practices are obviously weak. In addition, teachers have every motivation to conduct commercial tuition classes after school because the teachers' pay starting from RM1,200 per month for degree holders is clearly insufficient to lead a 'more' comfortable lifestyle.

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.


Anonymous said...

If what were said was true, this is really bad.

But will higher pay makes the teachers more ethical? I would doubt it. It is the culture that these people had adapted would never feel satisfied. The more money they earn the more commitment we would tend to have, its true.

I mean, the thirst for more money does not only happens among the lower income class of people, from the middle class to the rich as well. You know, when you are richer, you may have big houses and nice cars to pay off loans, and education expenses for children

There are survey shows that quite a large people who earns in the middle class do a lot of part time jobs or go for side income, especially got involved in direct sales or multi-level marketing.

What I believe is even if the teachers earn 2200 a month, they will still provide tuition to get more income. Probably now they would have upgraded to a bigger houses and they need the extra money to pay off the loans.

It is our culture... too hard to fight off!

Nevertheless, the government still should review their salary. Not only that but the current economy infrastructure, where the buying power of a ringgit is too weak, thus RM1,200 a month could be just enough for a couple to basically eat and have a rented shelter.

Anonymous said...

Teachers with degrees are definitely getting more than RM1200. A teacher with a degree will have a rank of D41 which will qualify him with a monthly pay of RM1700, plus he will get accomodation allowance: RM210, service allowance: equal to 22% of his basic salary, starting from next year, living cost allowance plus another few more allowance. Altogether, a teacher with a degree will get about RM1000 of allowance per month on top of his basic salary. RM2700 for a fesh graduate working as a teacher, not to bad eh?! And did I mention about the long paid annual leaves that they enjoy? The truth now is, starting salary of government servants with university degrees are generally higher than private sectors. This is in line with the NEP where government could channel wealth into Bumi population as 90% of government servants are bumi.

Anonymous said...

Parents nowadays want their kids to be competitive. They want the kids to do well in life. With little time at home, some parents resort to what they know best: spend money on kids.

The options are limited. The most cost effective one is to send the kids for tuition. After all, its suppose to keep them 'out of trouble' and should technically help with the grades too.

Of course, the tuition teacher better have some qualifications. You can't just send the kids to any Hick. She/He has to be experienced and they also better know what they are doing. Obvious conclusion: school teachers.

There are teachers out there who exploit the current situation but there too are parents who 'need' them. The cycle continues...

Anonymous said...

Saying that s'pore teachers get 4 times more than malaysian teachers is incorrect. You can't convert that way. You are earning and spending it in Singapore and vice versa. It's more like Singapore teachers get double what our local teachers get.

Anonymous said...

Fyi, teacher's starting salary is no longer rm1200. It's rm1673 + allowance rm170.

Under KPLI teacher training prog,they will get rm1377 per month for the one-year course.