Monday, January 23, 2012

Bemused about tuition centres

As I have mentioned in an earlier entry, our keen desire for academic excellence has spread to private tuition centres. The most popular of these have the luxury of imposing entrance tests on their students, and accepting only students who do well. The common reason cited is that such streaming ensures more targetted help, and this increases the effectiveness of their teaching.

Few parents, however, accept this reason, and instead, many decry these tests as a cynical tactic to improve the centres' results. Many protested that it is the weak students who need support, and these tuition centres are depriving them of the help they need when they reject them. They shouldn't be allowed to impose entrance tests!

Please don't have any illusions about it. Private tuition centres are set up specifically to make profits - they have a bottomline to meet, overheads to cover, and would like to maximise their profit if they could.

Maybe over the years, both private and public educational organisations have come to use similar jargon, phrases such as "holistic development", "fulfiling the potential of every child" are freely found in all communication materials. At the same time, there are social welfare bodies such as CDAC and Mendaki which are set up to help weaker students, especially those from poorer families. It is perhaps forgivable for parents to confuse the aims of all these education-related organisations, and expect every of them to be equally altruistic.

But don't forget the commercial nature of private tuition centres. Yes, they are probably making use of their high-flying customers' exam results for their own publicity. Yes, they then probably charge an arm and a leg because of this manipulated track record. Therefore, those who do not wish to be part of this behaviour should simply vote with their feet and walk away. Those who need help and yet have been rejected by these centres should bring their patronage to less snooty tuition centres. I am sure there are plenty out there.

In the world of private education, excepting criminal activity, it is a free market. Unless we intend to impose regulation upon such private interests (and turn them into publicly-funded centres), they have the right to function as they wish - just like any other business enterprise. If they lose money because of their selective admission, it serves them right. They might even close down and no one will be sorry. But don't pillory them because they thrive despite snubbing your business.

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