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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.

Tuition stresses out children

         Nowadays, children are unable to live their young life fully. Consider this, the number of subjects taught in school, at any level, has increased substantially compared to a generation ago. So does the scope of each of these subjects. Being away from the school compound does not guarantee respite to the children either. There are tuition classes, computer lessons, piano practice etc. Tuition usually emerge the strongest contender for the children's time. It seems that children are sometimes working longer hours than their parents.

Long hours, no play
         It is obvious that children who attend both mainstream and tuition classes are placed under considerable pressure. Right after school, with or without a break, the child is rushed to tuition classes. At tuition, he or she is expected to maintain mental alertness and receptivity throughout the session. This alone is not an easy feat, after the long hours they have endured in school. Even after the tuition class adjourns, the child would still have to complete the homework from school as well as those from tuition. At home, they may be required to revise all the lessons before they can finally call it a day. Is it any wonder that children has little private time of their own, let alone time for sporting and leisure activities?

The rat race starts early

         How serious is this situation? In a 1991 survey of Malaysian students, 36 per cent of them agreed with the statement "Tuition dominates our life," and only 18 per cent disagreed. Since that time, the prevalence of tuition has grown significantly. Today, tuition plays an even bigger role in a student's life. As more and more time goes into tuition, the stress endured by the students also increases in tandem. That's because during tuition, the student's skills and abilities are relentlessly pitted against those of his peers. That's because competition is the name of the game and the prowess of the tutor rests on the results he produces.

Unbalanced development?
         In this climate of intense competition, at school and during tuition, the age-appropriate development tasks such as building wholesome attitudes towards oneself, learning to get along with peers, developing conscience, morality and a scale of values are often neglected. More generally, an unbalanced focus on book learning and examination scores will crowd out other types of education which are arguably of major importance as well. It is the development in these aspects which would have brought about a more rounded individual and provided the much needed relief from the pressures of grueling educational pursuits.

         Some students are forced by their parents to attend numerous tuition sessions, to the extent that the tuition centres have become a second school. They are largely 'abused' by their parents' over concern for diplomas and certificates. Thus putting enormous pressure on young brains and probably setting the students into undesirable attitude patterns as a result of a super competitive environment that has no place for initiatives, adaptability and creativity. Students are not only pressured, but emerge merely a regurgitator of facts memorized but not fully understood. Rote learning becomes the norm. And as a result, examination scores become the yardstick of performance, instead of genuine learning.

The threat of exams
         The pressure to pass the national examinations (UPSR, PMR, SPM, STPM) is so great that in several cases each year, it burns out the learning momentum of the children. Principals and teachers have observed pupils coming to schools in a state of physical and psychological depletion. Pressure has led to mental exhaustion. In this game called examination, failure can stigmatize a child and success is obtained at too great a cost.

There are better ways
         On a more positive note, it may be argued that pressure may also bring out the best in students and stretch them to maximize their potential. For example, our society tends to place great value on discipline and dedication, and to regard reasonable pressure applied by tuition as generally beneficial. To some extent, therefore, the degree of pressure that is considered appropriate is determined by social and cultural norms. Some educators would add that where tuition helps pupils to keep up with their peers, it may actually protect their self-esteem. In this case, although tuition does cause pressure from one side, it may alleviate pressure from the other.

         Much may also depend on the type of tuition and how it is conducted. There are some programs that are specially designed to remove the pressure factor associated with learning. These are mostly student-centred in nature rather than teacher-centred. The tutoring emphasizes student participation, is flexible, and encourages creativity. Students attending this form of tuition will find it not only unthreatening but also an enjoyable experience.

         The current state of affairs is, without a doubt, generally undesirable. Students attending tuition classes bring home not only the lessons but also the accompanying pressure as well. The mounting number of cases of student depression and even suicides provide a stark reminder of the impact of extreme pressure on young minds.


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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.