Education is a vital part of the family budget – a large proportion of households are savings specifically to support their family’s educational needs
Private tutoring is becoming a common phenomenon in Malaysia. In line with the work of Bray (1999), private tutoring is here defined as supplementary instruction outside the formal schooling system, and where a tutor teaches academic subjects for a fee.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Education, in 2013 there were 3,107 registered private tutoring centers in Malaysia, with 3.2 percent of the total number of (primary and secondary) students enrolled and 11,967 teachers (MOE, 2013).
However, official statistics are not available on those involved in tutoring services outside registered premises.
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.
Two thirds of households in Asia/Pacific are spending on enrichment classes for their children such as academic tuition, learning a foreign language and public speaking on top of regular school fees, according to MasterCard’s latest survey on Consumer Purchasing Priorities – Education.
More than half of parents in India (54%), Taiwan (52%) and Thailand (52%) are spending on extra tuition classes for their children, closely followed by Malaysia (46%), Singapore (45%) and Bangladesh (45%). Chinese (53%) and Korean (50%) households were more inclined towards foreign language classes. More than 50% of respondents from Hong Kong preferred their children to learn a musical instrument.
Previously, the idea catered to weaker students who needed extra help, but today, tuition classes have become the norm in a society where education is highly competitive and parents are no longer satisfied with relying on school teachers.
However, tuition classes don’t come cheap, especially when there are many subjects, but parents are still willing to pay tidy sums for it.
Many feel that a private tutor is capable of providing that extra push when needed because school teachers have too many classes and too little time for individual attention. Especially when it is a year for major examinations. Burdened by large classes, individual attention is an extremely rare commodity in schools.
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With limited space in good tertiary education institutions and scholarships; parents want their child to stay academically competitive. Some say they have no faith in the education system here with the general consensus being that it is not up to par to other countries.
Furthermore, for many parents, scoring A’s take paramount consideration over any other achievement and they thus strive to push their children into the path of academic excellence.
Customer satisfaction a top priority
However, many parents feel that the money is well spent. They can see improvements in their children’s grades. And the reasons for this aren’t difficult to understand. The fact is, tutors care about their performance in tuition classes.
Like all other service-oriented businesses, tuition is an industry where customer satisfaction always come first. If the tutor or the tuition center is not performing as expected, students will simply shift to another provider.
Competition abounds. Tuition centers engage in many promotional tactics to retain and increase enrolment. Discounts on fees are given for early registration, leaflets are widely distributed, free seminars and previews are held etc.
Even the personal tutors who operate from their homes are not exceptional in this respect. Many of them provide discounts to ‘old’ students who re-enroll. Students from the surrounding neighbourhoods are also chauffeured to and from the tuition classes by the tutors.
As an extra convenience to the parents, some of the home tutors also provide child-minding services as well!
Teachers’ perceptions on the effectiveness of private tutoring in Malaysia
The findings of this study show that teachers consider themselves as positively contributing to students’ learning. In addition, mainstream schoolteachers are willing to supervise students who need extra coaching. Teachers also perceive that students are willing to approach them when they encounter difficulties.
The findings of this research imply that the frequency of tutoring does not mean that society does not trust schooling.
Students are still willing to ask their teachers, and teachers are willing to help their students. But teachers consider tutoring as a supplement to mainstream schooling that can help students to excel in the examinations.
Resource: Professional Tutor