Ask any random Singaporean child what their plans are after school, and they’re likely to glumly reply that they’ve got to go for tuition. The tuition industry is now worth over $1 billion, which is a pretty huge indication of how much Singaporean parents are willing to spend to ensure their kids get ahead in life.
So to all those Singapore entrepreneurs who are fretting about how small the market is and how few opportunities there are to make it big—maybe it’s time to abandon those ideals and cash in on Singapore’s shadow education industry, which seems to be growing each year despite the low birth rate.
Here are four services Singapore’s shadow education industry has spawned.
Homework for a fee
With so many Facebook comments to reply to and pictures to post on Instagram, who has time for homework? That’s why homework-for-a-fee services continue to thrive.
These services are usually offered through classified ads on the internet, dedicated websites or mobile apps. Basically, people offer to write your essays or complete your homework for a fee, charging at least $100 for every 1,000 words.
These services tend to be more popular amongst students at universities, polytechnics and private tertiary institutions than primary and secondary schools, since homework assignments often contribute to their final grade, and unlike primary and secondary students they don’t have the option of simply copying someone else’s homework before flag raising in the morning. There are also people who complete art coursework for N and O level students.
Tutors being hired to do homework
In between tuition sessions, CCA training and piano/ballet/swimming lessons, it seems kids don’t even have time to do their own homework.
Which is why some parents have resorted to hiring private tutors to finish their kids’ homework for them, rather than to teach them, some reportedly paying up to $250 an hour.
For the tutor, this is a win-win situation, as many will tell you it’s a lot easier to just sit there and finish the kids’ homework than to actually teach.
The truly mind-boggling thing is that some parents are even hiring these tutors to do the homework set by elite tuition centres that they have chosen to send their kids to.
Tuition for parents
It’s not just the kids who are going for tuition. Some hapless parents, who are wringing their hands at the fact that their primary five kid’s math practice papers are beyond comprehension, are now going for tuition themselves so that they can in turn help their kids.
Some tuition centres now offer workshops, boot camps and crash courses so parents can get up to speed on how to draw those pesky primary school math diagrams. These courses typically cost hundreds of dollars to attend.
The irony is that these parents often end up paying for tutors to teach their kids even after attending crash courses themselves, because tuition in Singapore isn’t just about helping children understand concepts and solve problems—it’s about knowing tricks that can help them score in the exams, and being wise to teachers’ marking schemes no matter how rigid.
Pre-exam crash course
Every student has faced that moment of truth when they’ve realised their exam is in 2 days and they know absolutely nothing about the subject they’re being tested on, thanks to months of sleeping in class or texting under their desks.
While tuition tends to be a year-long thing, some students now turn to crash courses close to exam time. These classes are designed to help a slacker cram everything in within a few days or weeks, just in time to regurgitate everything on their exam scripts.
Crash courses are, of course, a lot more expensive than regular tuition sessions, with a single run of group sessions reportedly costing between $180 to $900. Well, that’s the price you pay for leaving things to the last minute.
What other education-related businesses are thriving in Singapore? Tell us in the comments!