Singaporean Education Minister Ong Ye Kung Addresses The Country’s Tuition Obsession

Singapore is a country known for a lucrative environment for many an English tutor, thanks to the country’s emphasis on examinations and education. The country’s Education Minister, Ong Ye Kung, addressed the matter, calling for a focus on what he calls the ‘true spirit of learning’, alongside changes to the education system the MOE will be introducing over a three-year time span.

These include fewer mid-year exams, removal of class rankings, as well as two test-free years for kids when they start primary school.

On Oct. 3, 2018, he spoke at the triennial Singapore International Technical and Vocational Education and Training Conference Centre, Mr. Ong reasserted his belief that Singapore has become overly reliant on examinations, saying that they have become such a comfortable security blanket for the country that a huge part of their education system revolves around exams.

He explains that this is the rationale behind the changes being implemented by the MOE, saying that Singapore needs to address the issue and scale back on its reliance on examinations, instead focusing on the true spirit of learning.

Minister Ong stressed that the education system won’t lose rigor, pointing out that schools gain an additional three weeks of curriculum time every two school years for the education of students.

He then addressed the many tuition centers employing many a Math and English tutor, saying that they do not need to simulate the conditions of exams to compensate for the MOE’s mandate, saying that doing so would only be preying on the insecurities of parents and students across the country.

Many are educators are expecting that the changes issued by the MOE would not adversely affect the popularity of tuition centers and private tutors for the near future, in spite of them being forced to adjust to the mandate.

Educators and a few in the tuition industry say that, while the changes being implemented were a step in the right direction, tuition is so heavily ingrained in Singapore’s culture that a major shift in attitude would be needed, starting with the education of the next generation. Some of the older generation say that tuition centers, which have education camps for students of all levels, did not exist during their time, and they turned out fine regardless.