By Maureen Koh
The New Paper
Tuesday, Mar 06, 2012

Her son is a straight A student in a top boys’ school here yet this mother spends $5,800 a month on his tuition.

Her son, who is in Secondary 3, attends classes for English and mathematics at a premier tuition centre in Thomson once a week – two hours per session.

He also takes a 21/2 hour weekly Chinese class in a popular language school.

And he gets one-on-one tuition – each for about two hours – for physics, chemistry and biology with a private tutor.

All these classes are on top of the regular supplementary lessons that his school gives.

Madam Irene Tan, a housewife who is in her early 40s, says: “It’s money that we can afford and it’s totally well-spent.”

She agreed to this interview on condition that we do not name her only child or his school to avoid getting him into trouble.

She is married to a businessman and lives in a bungalow in Bukit Timah.

She says: “All parents just want the best for their child’s education.”

To top it off, she pays people to do her son’s homework when he can’t cope with the combination of school and tuition assignments.

She pays $200 per hour if they have to swing by before midnight and $250 an hour when it’s later.

Madam Tan is not the only one willing to pay through the nose for intensive tuition to help her child.

Mrs Pauline Soh, who has two daughters, one in Primary 4 and another in Sec 2, spends “close to $4,000” on their tuition classes.

Her daughters take English, mathematics and science at an elite tuition centre.

Her younger daughter, who is in a Gifted Education Programme primary school, also gets tuition for Higher Chinese.

The older girl is in an independent school.

Mrs Soh, 40, a civil servant, who lives in a condominium in the east says: “My husband (who is also a civil servant) and I don’t have the time to coach our children.”

She adds: “Education is an expensive affair here but the paper chase makes it necessary for us to equip our children with the best education possible.”

Mr Frank Chan, 46, prefers to spend his money on extra tuition for his pair of twins, who are in Primary 6, than go for holidays.

The marketing manager, who lives in a terrace house in the east, says: “We can always go for holidays when the boys grow up. Right now, it’s more important to focus on their Primary School Leaving Examination.”

The twins have tuition in English, mathematics and second language, which cost about $2,000 per child per month.

This does not include fees he pays for a private music tutor.

In fact, primary schoolers are not the only ones getting loads of extra coaching. Some parents spend big on the little ones.

Madam Cathy Ho, 39, hires a private tutor to prepare her five-year-old son and six-year-old daughter for primary school.

She pays the tutor, who gives her children individual lessons in English and mathematics separately, for $800 a month.

They also take Chinese classes at a language enrichment school at $1,500 for 12 lessons for each child every three months.

In addition, Madam Ho’s daughter takes abacus and mental calculation preparation classes at an enrichment centre. That’s another $320 a month.

Madam Ho, a creative director, who lives in an apartment in a Jurong condominium, says: “Some of my friends have called me crazy but I don’t care.

“When my children make it to a better school and do well, I’ll be the one having the last, and best, laugh.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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