Saturday 8 September 2012

MOE clarifies stance on private tuition

Education Ministry, responding to MP, says teachers should not recommend tuition as a form of learning support 
by Ng Jing Yng, TODAY, 7 Sep 2012

Some teachers have admitted to this newspaper that they encourage weaker students to seek private tuition while Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Hri Kumar wrote on his blog recently that "one hears of this happening".

Yesterday, the Ministry of Education (MOE) made clear its stance on such a practice.

"Teachers should not recommend tuition to students or parents as a form of learning support," an MOE spokesperson said in response to TODAY's queries on the points raised by Mr Hri Kumar.

She also revealed that the MOE had instructed all primary schools last year that they "should not conduct testing for the purpose of allocating students to similar-ability classes at Primary 1 and 2".

On his blog post - dated Monday - Mr Hri Kumar had called on the MOE to "deal with parents' concerns about Primary 1 education".

"They should start by addressing directly and clearly a number of questions which keep surfacing," he added.

Among these was the notion that "pupils are 'streamed' according to abilities in Primary 1 and the better teachers are assigned to the 'better' classes", as Mr Hri Kumar put it.

In response, the MOE spokesperson said it had earlier instructed schools not to group the students based on their abilities in their first two years at Primary School.

"Primary 1 and Primary 2 students should be grouped heterogeneously into classes, while ensuring a good spread of students by gender and ethnicity in each class," she said. She added that grouping students by ability at a very young age is "premature and inaccurate".

According to the spokesperson, when teachers "come across students who are under-performing in their studies, they would look for ways of giving such students additional learning support".

"They may provide these students with more attention in class through differentiated teaching and small group teaching, or offer them remedial or supplementary lessons after school.

Where helpful and necessary, teachers may also provide individual coaching to such students outside lessons," she added.

Mr Hri Kumar had also pointed out that parents are not clear what literacy and numeracy skills children are expected to have when entering Primary 1.

The MOE spokesperson said that the Primary 1 curriculum is "designed to meet the learning needs of all pupils, regardless of their background and level of competency prior to entering Primary 1".

She added that, while the ministry does not a prescribe a pre-school syllabus, it has a curriculum framework as a guideline for pre-schools. It had previously announced that it was updating the Kindergarten Curriculum Framework.

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