Education is not in the schools, it’s in the tuition centers

Praba’s latest article is a very good analysis of everything that is wrong with our education system, a topic that is very close to my heart. He contends that the key to the success of many of our students lies in the education that they receive in the tuition centers; schools are schools, but the tuition centers is where real performance is tuned.

Teachers in schools are teaching less and less, some “save” their best efforts for the part-time jobs as tuition center teachers (who pay them so much more). Students are not learning, it is more like they are being programmed with the answers. Memorization will get you an “A”, but it isn’t going to teach you how to speak English as the thousands of “A” English students each year will prove.

Looking at it all, what’s the point of even going to school? If 30 hours of school a week can be condensed into 6-10 hours of tuition, why not just send kids to tuition, and give them the rest of the time to develop their other skills and talents? The kids who skip school, aren’t missing much, are they? Perhaps they are the smarter ones, who know how to better spend their time instead and go to tuition in the evenings for a couple of hours to receive their “real” education.

What a damning verdict on the Ministry of Education. How did it come to this? Shameful.

No wonder parents who can afford it prefer to send their children to private schools such as Tenby’s, where teachers are motivated, well paid, the curriculum is designed for learning and development rather than memorization and regurgitation. Great for the kids who go to this school, but this creates an education apartheid in the society. Kids exposed to smart learning tend to become smart themselves, kids exposed to government schools tend to become exactly what the system wants of them.

You’ll have your exceptions, of course. Those smart kids that will do well no matter where you place them. The super hero stories of the straight “A”s student who never attended a single hour of tuition. The ones who came from Government school and went on to Oxford and Harvard. Of course, you’ll always have exceptions. But the success of a system cannot be judged based on the exceptional efforts of the exceptional few. The success of a nation cannot be built on the backs of these handful of winners, not in the real world, where more often than not, these brilliant minds leave the country for better pastures and opportunities the moment they are able to.

It all comes down to where we want to go, and how we’re doing it. If education success in Malaysia passes for how much tuition we can attend, how well we can memorize the targeted facts and figures these centers give us for us to score an “A” in the exams, then we’re definitely doing it wrong, and we’re definitely headed for more of the same. Mediocrity.

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