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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.

The tuition lifestyle

         Once upon a time, tuition used to be the domain of the rich students in Malaysia. Now, however, tuition has become an almost necessary supplement for all students regardless of their economic standings. What changed over the years were the increasingly stiff academic competition coupled with an ever expanding school syllabus. What didn't changed though, were the reasons given by these students who attend the tuition classes.

The usual reasons

         Most who chose to take tuition usually have difficulty coping with some subjects in school. A smaller portion go to collect extra facts in the hope of gaining the decisive edge over their classmates. They are not especially weak in the subjects but these students tend to be more competitive than average. For example, these achievers normally are the question askers during the tuition session. The tutors would have to cater to these questions that the school teachers may not have had time for.

         Of course, there are exceptions to the usual reasons. Several students are sent to tuition by their parents regardless of their own preferences. Parents are naturally anxious that their children will lose out to those who go for tuition classes. A typical response by parents is that they wouldn't want their children to be pushed by competition to the next best class. There is one point though, that both parents and students agree on. They all faithfully believe that tuition is a must during major examination years. And that refers to the national examinations in Primary 6, Form 3, Form 5 and Form 6; namely UPSR, PMR, SPM and STPM respectively.

Teach them early

         Why do students embrace this tuition lifestyle so heartily? Most likely they have been eased into it at a tender age by their parents. Nowadays, urbanites do not even lift an eyebrow upon hearing of parents sending their Kindergarten kids to tuition. Still, the majoriy of students begin their tuition lifestyle in the early years of primary schooling. So prevalent is the practice that urban students now regard tuition as the norm rather than the exception. Their education largely occur within the confines of the school-tuition duality. With such a perspective conditioned early on, is it any wonder that tuition has become a dominating influence on a student's life? Not only have students grown accustomed to tuition, they have even come to endear it. Some students who began their tuition life as attendees of tuition centres have since graduated to private tutoring by their own demand. Students have adopted tuition as a way of life.

What say them?

         What do the students have to say about tuition in general and their personal experiences in particular? Here are some remarks excerpted from a 1986 newspaper article in The Star:

"It helps when you need the tutor for that extra push because our school teachers have too many classes and too little time for individual concentration. But in the end, how well you do really depends on how hard you are willing to work."
~ Warrick Wong (16 year old SPM student)
"A private tutor has more time and attention for me. I can ask her about certain problems without feeling guilty since I'm paying for her time."
~ Vivian Phang (16 year old SPM student)
"I really needed to improve in my maths because I was doing so poorly in my class tests. This is where tuition helps a lot. In addition to learning from the questions asked by the smarter students in the same class, each of us also gets a lot more attention from the tutor. My maths grades have really improved from mere credits to A's."
~ Lilian Loy (16 year old SPM student)
"[My mother] heard of a good tutor from a friend so I was made to try out for a month and stayed on because my grades did improve."
~ Liew Jack Lee (15 year old student)
"My mother felt I didn't do well enough in my exams last year so she found a tutor for me."
~ Saliha Daud (student, age not available)
"I got very bad marks. My mother was worried that I wouldn't get through [the examination] and sent me for tuition although she had to work very hard to pay the fees."
~ M. Amutha (Form 3 student)
"And [my father] is happy to see the marked improvement in my record book, so he will continue working hard to pay for my tuition if he has to."
~ K. Anathurai (Form 3 student)

Lost childhood

         The pre-occupation with examination plays a major role in the decision to attend tuition for many students. Although tuition classes take up many afternoons and evenings, these students feel a need for it. Without it they may find themselves left behind or denied the top spots in class. It does mean less time for rest and extra-curricular activities, as well as higher household expenditures. However, they believe their sacrifices will eventually be rewarded in the form of good examination results, and that's what really matter - to them.


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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.