Malaysians consider tuition ‘money well spent’

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

This article is written by Matthias Sim from The link to the article is here

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Tuition centers are, like they say in Malay, “bagai cendawan tumbuh selepas hujan”: roughly translated to meaning “like mushrooms growing after the rain”. From full-fledged centres to private tuition and even ad-hoc sessions in McDonalds; they are really everywhere. But where there is supply, there must be demand.

Previously, the idea catered to weaker students who needed extra help, but today, tuition classes have become the norm in a society where education is highly competitive and parents are no longer satisfied with relying on school teachers. However, tuition classes don’t come cheap, especially when there are many subjects, but parents are still willing to pay tidy sums for it.

Money for extra education

With limited space in good tertiary education institutions; parents want their child to stay academically competitive. Some say they have no faith in the education system here with the general consensus being that it is not up to par to other countries. Furthermore, for many parents, scoring A’s take paramount consideration over any other achievement and they thus strive to push their children into the path of academic excellence.

Let us say the number of times an average parent sends their child for tuition is 3 times a week. Average costs for tuition centers and private tuition would be RM110-RM150 per person per month or RM40-RM80 per subject depending on the centre. More prominent centres naturally cost more.

Mrs Chin, from Petaling Jaya, sends her daughter aged 13, for tuition classes and gymnastics for 7 days a week.

“I spend roughly about RM1020 a month for her tuition fees, and other curricular activities. It made me cut back on my spending but to know she’s getting the best for her education and with her being one of the top students in her school, I can safely say it is money worth spending. Moreover, she has won gymnastic tournaments and the hectic academic schedule has made her more disciplined.”

But not everyone spends as much. Arnold S sends his sons for tuition but only for select classes. “The total cost for the two of them is around RM340 per month. They are good boys overall and are only weak in 1-2 subjects. I send them only for those subjects and the price is RM50 for language subjects and RM70 for more technical subjects like Mathematics and Science. I don’t think they need the rest. RM340 is hard enough for us as my wife doesn’t work.”

But just like Mrs Chin, Arnold agrees that it is necessary. “School is not enough. I don’t want to be negative so I won’t criticise anyone. I will just say that my boys need the classes for their future.”

Faridah is more outright with her viewpoint. “My girl’s teachers are really not good enough. I couldn’t afford to send her for tuition in all subjects and a friend helped out. She pays for my daughter to have good additional mathematics tuition at RM400 per month. On top of that, I spend another RM140 to send her for two other subjects. I don’t feel we have a choice looking at what (kind of teachers) she has to contend with at school.”

It would seem that despite serious levels of inflation, many Malaysians still send their children for tuition classes and are willing to pay the price. It begs the question: is it just the paranoia of the people or truly an education system that’s so terribly broken?

This article brought to you by Matthias Sim from We believe all Malaysians should have access to free, accurate and independent personal finance information.

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