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Free tuition in Singapore

Too good to be true?

Are you worried about high tuition fee provided by some ‘elite’ tuition centers? Are you afraid that your child may have to run on their own steam and get left behind under the rising competition in school? Fret not. You may want to check out a free tuition service program in collaboration between the Jurong Point shopping mall and the Welfare Service Club of Nanyang Technological University. The tuition sessions are conducted in the learning corner of the shopping mall on Wednesday and Thursday from 7pm to 9pm, targeting at students from primary 4-6 and secondary 1-2 respectively. Priority will be given to lower income families, and Singapore citizens or permanent residents. Such an initiative is not common. In fact, its model of operation may be first of its kind in Singapore.

jurong point tuition

 

A sustainable project

First, the project is likely to be sustainable as long as demand is in place. The Welfare Service Club is one of the largest clubs in NTU and is well known in the university for its activism in community service. It has many departments serving different needs of society. The free tuition service project is conducted under the Friends of Children regular service project. Being regular, the project ensures a steady supply of student volunteers. In fact, the club has been providing free tutors to some child care centers around the Jurong area and has attracted many committed members for such a service. The free tuition program is but an extension of the current service in the club, venturing out of conventional institutions into a popular shopping mall.

A powerhouse of teaching

Moreover, perhaps there is no better place to tap into the brain power for learning and teaching than a university. NTU is a comprehensive university offering all the majors that cover the subjects taught in primary and secondary schools. The rigor of curriculum ensures that a university tutor ‘knows his or her stuff’. You may try to bring your child to consult his or her older siblings or older children of relatives, but most of them are not learning the subjects being consulted in university, or have already graduated. Hence the current university students studying a particular major your child has problem with are the perfect match. They have been learning the subject for at least eight years, counting from primary five. They have been through the same process of learning and can empathize with your child about the obstacles in learning. Your child stands to benefit from them.

A heart for those who need help

As you may notice, priority is given to lower income family. As the program is conducted by the Welfare Service Club, a community service club, its focus must be on people who need help. While children from rich families can afford expensive tuition from privately run tuition centers, children from less well-to-do families may be struggling for help once school ends. Children in primary 4-6 face the pressure from the PSLE, an increasingly competitive national exam that determines which secondary school students can enter. Children in secondary 1-2 face streaming exams, with huge influence on the path of further education: Polytechnics or JCs? If children from richer families tend to do better because they receive more help, education is not an effective tool of social mobility. The Welfare Service Club identified the problem. They provide free academic assistance so that students across social spectrum may be competing on a more equal footing. Moreover, priority is also given to Singaporeans or Singapore permanent residents. This is in line with the practice of most social organizations that put the needs of citizens before those of foreign nationals. Citizens are tax-payers, and their contribution to the society entitles them to preferential access to social programs in case of needs. In fact, the Welfare Service Club may not possibly exist without taxpayers’ money, as a substantial portion of funding for NTU comes from the government. However, children with foreign nationalities can definitely apply, as they are not excluded from the program and their needs are also considered.

How about the shopping mall?

A space in a popular shopping mall is expensive. Allowing its use for a community service is notable. However, charitable motives aside, which should be praised, parents also give back to the shopping mall when they are shopping in supermarkets while their children are in the tuition program, or when they have dinner in the food court before the program starts. It is a win-win situation, but the biggest beneficiary should be the children themselves.

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