While education experts say it is difficult to establish how much of a role tuition has in academic success, one thing is for sure. Tuition business in Singapore is worth more than a billion dollars annually. Almost double the $650 million spent on it in 2004.
Parents have no qualms spending several hundreds or thousands of dollars on tuition each month. This is despite knowing that having tuition may not raise their children's grades significantly. This commitment to education stems from a strong belief that good grades in school will ensure a successful life in future.
Dr Yeap Ban Har, 48, principal of Marshall Cavendish Institute, feels that tutoring helps students in mastering the basics, but does not contribute significantly to performing well in novel, challenging problems. "If a student is weak in basics, tuition might help with basic skills questions as it tends to be about practice and more practice," he said.
National Institute of Education don Jason Tan said the efficacy of tuition varies from student to student. "I don't think you can say tuition does not work for anyone."
Dr Yeap, National University of Singapore economics lecturer, said that the skills of a teacher makes more of a difference in a student's learning process. "It is not a case of tuition or no tuition... If a teacher can create opportunities (for the students) to explore, to collaborate, to think structurally, to reflect, to communicate, to be independent, to make meaning, to be confident… It does not matter whether he is a teacher in a school, or a tutor."