Being a specialist in the teaching industry, I am often asked a question by parents: “Is home tuition or going to a tuition centre better?” Due to the popularity of this question among parents, and to save myself the need to keep repeating my answer, I shall address this issue here.
When I ask parents for their opinion before answering their Number 1 question, more often than not, I will always receive the immediate reply that tuition centres are better. Why? Because they are more expensive, they have more students and the teachers will be qualified. Let me explain why this answer is worrying.
Firstly: the cost of tuition. The importance of education cannot be underestimated especially in a world that thrives on research and innovation. However, this does not justify the misconception that the most expensive is definitely the best. I have come across many parents who have been disappointed with the performance of their children after sending them for supposedly the ‘best tuition in town’. One has to recognize that what works for someone else’s child may not work for yours. It is more advisable to remain open to various suggestions on improving your child’s grades instead of solely relying on tuition centres.
Secondly: tuition centres have more students. From the surface, yes, chinese tuition centres appear to have more students. That’s because tuition centres usually conduct classes in large groups while home tutors tend to teach students individually, and the lessons are often at home. Also, you will never know the actual number of tutors and students tuition agencies have under their charge. The statistics are always changing in real time.
Lastly: the teachers are qualified. If you are saying that with 100% confidence, you might want to reduce that by half. Currently, there are no regulations or checks done locally to ensure that teachers at tuition centres are genuinely qualified. Tuition is a lucrative business. Employing another teacher would mean that additional classes can be opened, which in turn, converts to higher profits. And, is there a way for you to view the teacher’s certificates? Probably not. In other words, parents are ASSUMING that the teachers are qualified, and they are forking out enormous sums of money at their OWN RISK.
Having cleared the air, what are the other alternatives? The most obvious competitor to tuition centres would be home tuition. Home tuition in general comes at a lower cost and with the individual attention given to your child for the full two hours (which is what a tuition centre cannot offer), it can potentially be more effective. In addition, it is more convenient and flexible as tutors travel to your house and can adapt to your schedule. Also, tutors can remain under your scrutiny at all times if you want to ensure that they are not sleeping on the job. On the other hand, sitting in class with your child in most tuition centres is definitely not allowed. Most importantly, you are certain that the tutor’s credentials are genuine having been screened by the tuition agency, then by yourself upon request.
So, you may wonder, if home tuition is better, how can it be cheaper? Again, allow me to emphasize that the quality is not always determined by the price. Home tutors can afford to charge lesser because they do not need to pay rental fees and employment benefits. Unlike tuition centres, there are no miscellaneous costs such as enrollment or registration fees, and no one-month deposits. A one-month advanced notice for termination does not apply either. Essentially, you are only paying for the lessons taught.
Despite the benefits, some parents are concerned over the fact that the tutors are students themselves. Yes, most tutors are students themselves who are offering tutoring services to earn some allowance. But, that does not mean that they are not qualified and a reliable tuition agency will only recommend tutors that are knowledgeable and experienced enough. You may be surprised that many relief teachers in our local schools and junior colleges are polytechnic graduates or are students who have just completed their ‘A’ level examinations. Now, surely you can be assured that a third-year university undergraduate is qualified enough to be your child’ tutor.
The comparison between home tutors and tuition centres is unlikely to end and depends heavily on its suitability for your child. Although expensive tuition is not always the best, be wary about the cheapest offer too. Select reliable tutors at reasonable rates, or be prepared to pay a heavy price instead.