Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Homeschooling and Tuition

Written by johnleemk on 8:20:30 am Feb 25, 2007.

In response to the article on tuition, dbctan wrote:

Thanks for sharing your views on tuition. I've always had a disdain for the whole practice and it pains me to see what it has done to generations of children. So it was easy agreeing with your views.

Most parents actually send their children off to tuition because they say the school system is not doing its job. "The teachers don't teach," said one mother once, "so the only way is to send my son to a tuition center."

Another reason for tuition, said another mother, is it forces her son to study. "It's the only way to keep him away from trouble and the cyber-cafe, etc."

I did have tuition for a season when I was a teen, and that was because I really sucked at math and BM. Right now my own two sons (17 and 15) don't know the meaning of tuition at all. Heck, they don't even go to school because we homeschool, and they've always been educated at home, doing their own thing, finding their own levels.

Not everyone agrees with homeschool, but it is a legitimate alternative to traditional systems. Perhaps people need to know that there are more options than that presented by our state. In a free economy, education too, should be a matter of choice. We as a family opted for homeschool.

I agree that homeschooling should be a more widely-publicised option. I myself was homeschooled for kindergarten, and selfschooled for my O Levels. My brother and one of my sisters are also homeschooled.

The problem with homeschooling, though, is that it takes a lot of dedication from the parents, unless they can hire an excellent tutor. Not many teenagers have the kind of discipline to study by themselves, though if they do, homeschooling is an excellent choice.

In the end, I think homeschooling can only be the solution for a minority of students — the best and the worst. The rest will still do better in a more structured schooling environment.

The problem with our public schools is that they are not really structured (except for the Chinese schools, but it can be argued that some take discipline too far).

Many teachers don't really teach, it is true. I still remember one teacher telling us that she would not be able to complete the science syllabus for our form in time for the finals, so we would have to buy a reference book and study by ourselves or rely on tuition. (Almost her exact words.)

I don't blame the teachers for this, because most of them are misallocated by the government. Teachers with degrees in science find themselves teaching moral, for instance. It's ludicrous, and how can we expect much teaching to be done?

It all comes down to our education system again — to improve the quality of education in public schools, we must first get the right teachers in the right classes.

I am very pessimistic about the chances of our education system improving. The National Education Blueprint is tinkering at the edges again without any real idea of what needs to be done, or what it wants to accomplish.

If the government were serious about improving education, it would be very simple. All they have to do is start paying teachers more, to attract better teachers and improve morale, and also start allocating teachers in a more sensible manner.

But until this happens (which may be never), it will either be tuition or homeschooling for those of us who can afford it. And it's a sad thing, since I believe tuition as it is practiced here really is an inferior substitute for a proper education.

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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

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