Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Tuition and Homeschooling, Part Deux

Written by johnleemk on 9:27:35 am Mar 2, 2007.

Say Lee writes in again to comment on tuition and homeschooling, which another reader mentioned previously:

I happen to think that tuition is beneficial for both the better and the poor students, the former for enrichment and the latter, remedy.

But the tuition industry has been driven to such a skewed version of today where almost the entire school curriculum is repeated, no thanks to the exam- and result-centric educational culture that we have fostered.

I doubt homeschooling will catch on in Malaysia. Firstly one of the parents has to be at home full time and more importantly, take personal responsibility for his/her children education, instead of relegating it to tuition centers.

Secondly, the parents would have to have already achieved certain level of competency themselves in order to guide their children.

Thirdly, there must be abundant resources (library, parent network) that enable homeschooling.

That homeschooling is relatively popular in US is no accident, but is a result of the above enabling environments which I don't see happening in Malaysia. And that in itself speaks volume of the sorry state of education as it stands now in Malaysia. It has not gone to the dogs as yet because there are still parents and students who care, who make a difference despite, not because of, the environment they find themselves in.

Ideally, tuition would be a very helpful means of education. In certain contexts, it does play this role. I have friends/ex-classmates who, for example, can sit for subjects like Bible Studies or Accounts in their examinations, even though they did not take these subjects in school, thanks to tuition.

The problem, as you note, is that tuition here has supplanted the school system instead of supplementing it. To make matters worse, it has supplanted the school system so thoroughly and absorbed the culture of examination-centricness so well that I would venture to say it is actively contributing to our country's decline into intellectual ignominy.

Tuition as it is in our society exists to help children bring home a string of As. Parents don't seem to care about what those As are supposed to mean — all they want is their children to score As. The prevalence of tuition has encouraged this value system by making it easy for almost anyone to score an A, provided they are willing to put their nose to the grindstone, regardless of actual understanding of the subject or intellectual ability.

The result is that overstressed students graduate without an interest in reading or learning — especially not the subjects that they learn in school or tuition. Despite the fact that in an information era, lifelong learning is a must, we have actually fostered a culture of cramming as much useless information as possible into students' heads for 12 to 16 years, and called that "learning".

Homeschooling is unfortunately a far from viable alternative to the traditional schooling/tuition system, for the reasons you point out. It succeeds with dedicated parents and a community of homeschoolers — both of which are in rather short supply.

I am very interested in opening a dialogue for suggestions on how to change our perverse educational culture. I would also like to hear the views of those who can point out any benefits of tuition I may have overlooked — surely there are proponents of tuition out there? It's more interesting to hear alternative viewpoints. Go ahead, submit a comment through the form at the end of this article — tell me what you think.

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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.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.

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