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** For foreigners who are not familiar with the country, education and tuition culture in Malaysia, you might find the following guide useful - Malaysia, Education & Tuition: A Background Guide.

Is tuition becoming a status symbol ?

         In the 1970s, tuition centers are still comparatively few in Malaysia. Not many students attended these extra lessons and fewer parents hired private tutors to teach their children at home. That's not to say there weren't any at all. Tuition centers and private tutors were available to cater to the demand at that time. But their numbers were considerably low and were mostly congregated in major cities and towns.

Tuition as a 'clinic' for the weak
          At the time, tuition was viewed as a remedial avenue that was only resorted to when all else failed. Parents sent their children to tuition centres because the students were weak in their studies. Tuition attendees were truly in need of the extra coaching by the tuition teachers. They either performed badly in their examinations or they failed to keep up with the syllabus at school. Either way, going for tuition constituted a genuine need on the part of these students. There was nothing prideful about it, quite the opposite was actually true.

The tuition 'boom'
         However, all these changed in the 1980s. Due in part to a booming Malaysian economy, the number of tuition centers increased dramatically. Endowed with higher spending power, more and more parents began to view tuition with a different perspective. Tuition centre was no longer regarded as merely a 'clinic' for weak students, but a place to provide their children with that extra competitive edge. To pass an examination was not sufficient anymore. To excel in school became the newest aim. A good academic performance was regarded as essential, and parents strived to give every possible edge to their children. Faced with burgeoning demand, businessmen happily obliged. And tuition centres mushroomed in huge numbers all over Malaysia.

Public outcry
          It was at this time that the tuition phenomenon received much public attention and was scrutinized by all in the media. Students who didn't have tuition began demanding it from their parents. Some were driven to it by actual need but others by peer pressure. Less well off parents lamented the extra costs that tuition incurred. There were even calls, in the press, for the government to curb the growth of the tuition industry. But the mere existence of the tuition centres fomented an inequality in the classrooms. Two groups of students were created, those with tuition and those without. At one time, the government even established a number of free and subsidized tuition centres to cater to those families who couldn't afford the normal tuition rates. Meanwhile, the number of tuition attendees continued to soar and tuition became a part of the Malaysian culture.

A middle class status symbol
         Joining a tuition class has become, more or less a necessity for a student of an urban middle class family. It is no longer viewed as a privilege of the rich to be enrolled in tuition classes. Instead, it is deemed the opposite not to do so. Now, students of urban areas who do not go for tuition belong to the minority. Like it or not, tuition has become a status symbol and a way of life for the urban middle class along with music and swimming lessons. Parents feel good about themselves if they can afford these lessons for their children. Some even regard tuition as 'essential' and are more than willing to forego other household expenses to pay the tuition fees.

         If past experience is anything to go by, the perception of tuition as a status symbol will eventually wear off. When something has become such a commonality, as tuition has, it will lose its novelty appeal. In hindsight, tuition shouldn't have gained this spurious reputation in the first place. After all, its role is merely to provide an educational service to the students. Although it can't be denied that it's perceived status symbol has contributed to the rapid growth of the industry in the 1980s.

The next status symbol?
         So, what will be the next status symbol to emerge after tuition centres? A good guess would be private tutoring or home tuition. Instead of going somewhere for tuition, let the tuition come to you. Actually, the distinguishing feature of private tuition is the personal attention given by the tutors. This occurs under various formats, for example, tutoring at the student's home; at the tutor's home; or at a rented venue. The main advantage is the class size, which is often smaller than 5 students. In some cases, it is just a single student to the tutor, known as one-to-one tuition. The claim is that the smaller class size achieves better results. Of course, it will costs more as well.

          At present, private tuition is not as popular as attending classes in tuition centres, chiefly due to the steeper fees involved. It remains the prerogative of the relatively well-off and has become one of the newer status symbols of our society.


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Glossary of Terms :
(1) Tuition - Tutelage, the act of tutoring or teaching a student (pupil); Fees paid for instruction (especially for higher education). In Malaysia, tuition is more popularly used to denote tutoring rather than fee. Common Malaysian misspellings: Tiution, Tution. *(BM): Tuisyen, Tiusyen, Tusyen, Tuisen, Tiusen, Tuisyan, Tiusyan, Tusyan. | (2) Home Tuition - Tutoring that takes place at students' or tutors' home as opposed to at tuition centers; Also: Home Tutoring, Private Tuition, Private Tutoring. *(BM): Tuisyen Di Rumah, Tuisyen Swasta. | (3) Personal Tuition - Tutoring on the basis of one tutor catering to one student. Also: Personal Tutoring, Individual Tuition, Individual Tutoring, One-to-one Tuition, 1-to-1 Tutoring, One-to-one Tutoring, 1-to-1 Tuition. *(BM): Tuisyen Peribadi, Tuisyen Persendirian, Tuisyen Perseorangan, Tuisyen Individu. | (4) Group Tuition - Tutoring on the basis of one tutor catering to several (small number, but more than one) students. Also: Small Group Tuition, Small Class Tuition, Group Tutoring, Small Group Tutoring, Small Class Tutoring. *(BM): Tuisyen Berkumpulan, Tuisyen Kumpulan Kecil, Tuisyen Kelas Kecil. | (5) Tutors - Tuition Teachers, persons who conduct tuition. In Malaysia, teacher is more popularly used to denote a school teacher whereas tutor usually means a non-school teacher. Also: Tiutors, Tuitors. *(BM): Guru Sekolah, Cikgu Sekolah, Pengajar Tuisyen, Guru Tuisyen, Cikgu Tuisyen. | (6) Home Tutors - Tutors who provide home tuition as opposed to those who teach at tuition centres. Also: Private Tutors, Personal Tutors, Individual Tutors, One-to-one Tutors, 1-to-1 Tutors, Group Tutors, Small Group Tutors, Private Teachers, Personal Teachers, Individual Teachers, One-to-one Teachers, 1-to-1 Teachers, Group Teachers, Small Group Teachers, Private Tuition Teachers, Personal Tuition Teachers, Individual Tuition Teachers, One-to-one Tuition Teachers, 1-to-1 Tuition Teachers, Group Tuition Teachers, Small Group Tuition Teachers. *(BM): Pengajar Di Rumah, Pengajar Swasta, Pengajar Peribadi, Pengajar Persendirian, Pengajar Perseorangan, Guru Di Rumah, Guru Swasta, Guru Peribadi, Guru Persendirian, Guru Perseorangan, Cikgu Di Rumah, Cikgu Swasta, Cikgu Peribadi, Cikgu Persendirian, Cikgu Perseorangan. | (7) Tuition Centers - Private institutions that conduct tuition on classroom-like settings. Also: Tuition Centres, Tutorial Centers, Tutorial Centres, Tuition Classes, Tutorial Classes, Tutoring Classes. *(BM): Pusat Tuisyen, Pusat Bimbingan, Pusat Tutorial, Kelas Tuisyen. | (8) Home Tuition Jobs - Home tuition vacancies; Posts to be filled by home tutors. Also: Private Tuition Jobs, Home Tutoring Jobs, Private Tutoring Jobs, Home Tuition Assignments, Private Tuition Assignments, Home Tutoring Assignments, Private Tutoring Assignments, Private Tuition Vacancies, Home Tutoring Vacancies, Private Tutoring Vacancies. *(BM): Jawatan Kosong Tuisyen, Pekerjaan Tuisyen, Kerja Tuisyen, Tugasan Tuisyen. | (9) Home Tutees - Home tuition students; Pupils receiving home tuition from home tutors. *(BM): Pelajar Tuisyen, Murid Tuisyen, Penuntut Tuisyen. | *(BM) denotes terms in Bahasa Melayu or Malay Language.