As a country that produces students that ace international standardised exams and top global academic rankings, the effectiveness of Singapore’s educational system is evident. As a design, it relies on all levels of mandatory schooling to be carried out. This compulsory education starts when a child enters primary school at the Primary 1 or P1 level when he turns six, and this is where he begins being taught and trained on various subjects and gains academic skills that will form part of his educational foundation as he moves up to Primary 2 all the way to Primary 6. By the end of Primary 6, he will sit through the Primary School Leaving Examination or PSLE—this will assess his academic skills and performance and will ultimately determine the “stream” that will become his educational path or track when he moves up to secondary school.
These streams, which commence on a student’s Secondary 1 level and lead up to a national examination on his last year, are as follows: “Special,” “Express,” “Normal (Academic),” and “Normal (Technical).” The Special stream makes students readily eligible for university and, according to the Education Statistics Digest 2018 published by the Ministry of Education, comprises about ten percent of Singaporean students. The Express stream, which makes up fifty per cent, can pave the way for university or junior college. Students in both streams are required to take the Singapore Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level or simply, O-Levels. Meanwhile, twenty per cent of the student population falls into the Normal (Academic) track, which means admission into polytechnic institutions, while the remainder pursues the Normal (Technical) track, equivalent to a qualification at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Both streams may or may not be followed by a fifth year of study, after which students are required to sit through the Singapore Cambridge General Certificate of Education Normal Level or N-Levels.
With primary school performance predicting a student’s academic stream in secondary school through the results of his Primary School Level Examination or PSLE, it is clear that the primary and secondary levels work hand-in-hand. In turn, a student’s skills and performance in secondary school will determine his admission to post-secondary institutions through one of various national examinations, all of which are equivalent to international standards or the International General Certificate of Secondary Education or IGCSE.
Being a teen in Singapore’s secondary schools
Depending on the stream a student is taking, a typical day at school can be taken up by anywhere from six to eight subjects. Add to this his co-curricular activities (CCAs) that may take up an hour or three off after-school hours, homework assignments, various projects that run simultaneously with daily assessments and quizzes that he has to ace or at least pass, and his time spent at home is greatly reduced. Given that secondary school students are children about to experience or are already experiencing puberty at the age of 12 to 17 years, this is a time of great and important changes in the child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Physically, the adolescent child now has to cope with changes such as menstruation, widening of the hips and development of the breasts and reproductive organs for girls; growth of facial and body hair, development of the larynx or Adam’s apple and the reproductive organs, and growth spurt for boys. Even their skin, voice, height and weight, and eating and sleeping patterns change, making them feel uncertain about their “new” body which can lead to feelings of insecurity or questions of body image.
Socially, adolescents tend to be “awkward” or clumsy, possibly because they are adjusting to a growing body. They also tend to be shy and quiet around adults and especially opposite-sex peers due to an increasing awareness of their physical changes.
Emotionally, the hormones estrogen for girls and testosterone for boys can make adolescents very sensitive, which can make communicating with them a little challenging. These hormones can also affect their skin, making them prone to acne problems, which in turn can make them insecure, shy or aloof.
Mentally, they continue to learn and absorb anything they put their focus into. Their cognitive skills at this point are greatly developing in terms of self-control, planning, problem-solving, and decision-making. This is why most if not all adolescents yearn for control and independence, with some to the point of being seen as unruly or disobedient. For better or for worse, parents should try to understand this as their child is only “practicing” being an independent adult. This is only natural as this is a time when children slowly transition into early adulthood.
All of these changes, however, do not exempt a Singapore teen from the pressures of performing well in school, passing national-level tests, and being pushed by parents due to the prevailing “kiasu” culture or the “fear of missing out.” In fact, Singaporean teens need to cope with the physical, mental, and emotional changes that come with being an adolescent while staying on top of their academic performance. It is quite a juggler’s act balancing one’s school responsibilities, family roles, and a changing body inside and out—and Singapore students get by with a little help from their friends, family, and something called “tuition.”
Online tuition for the tech-savvy teen
Growing up in an age where the latest technology is made accessible by parents for their children in fear of missing out, Singaporean teens have it best when it comes to technology. A study conducted by think-tank DQ Institute with the Nanyang Technological University reported that teens in Singapore spend nearly 46 hours a week—which is 6.5 hours daily—in front of an electronic device. Although haphazardly written online articles and unthinking parents are quick to draw a negative picture and point to technology as an enemy, parents must remember that technology is a friend when it is used correctly.
Proof of this is Singapore itself being touted as Asia’s “miniature Silicon Valley” and becoming a giant in educational technology in just a number of years. By harnessing the powers of the latest technology and merging it with teaching and pedagogy, Singapore has become a thriving ground for educational technology to the point that numerous start-ups have invested in making tuition available to students anytime, anywhere, at prices that are not far from its traditional predecessors.
As the latest addition to the old and time-tested methods of tuition centres and private tuition, online tutoring is fairly new. It aims to make tuition accessible to both young and old students wherever they may be in Singapore or in the world, at whatever time convenient to them, through the use of a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet, or any similar device that has audio and video capabilities and a stable Internet connection. It aids learning through a number of online features such as:
• Text or chat messaging
• Video recording (for replaying lessons)
• Interactive whiteboard
• File sharing (for notes, reading materials, etc.)
• Live screen-sharing
• Virtual classroom
With parental supervision, online tuition can be a solution for students whose long days at school makes travelling to tuition centres too time-consuming or private individual tutoring too close for comfort. Also, because teenagers associate computer use (or the use of any electronic device) with fun and leisure, online tuition can finally be a form of tuition that they look forward to. Lastly, unproductive use of “computer time” by idling around in social media sites or excessive online gaming can now be channelled into useful study hours through the help of an online tuition platform that suits you and your child.
What are my child’s tuition options?
Because adolescence is a stage when your teenager yearns for autonomy and opportunities to decide on his own, we have rounded up on this list a few options that may spark your child’s interest when it comes to his online tuition.
Founded in 2018, Cudy is a tuition platform that aims to connect students to tutors in interactive live-streamed online tuition classes. It calls itself “Singapore’s parent-trusted choice of online tuition” and offers one-to-one tuition and live group tuition (minimum of three and maximum of six) in their own virtual classrooms for a wide range of subjects for different secondary school levels.
|Subjects Offered||Classes offered depend on student demands|
|N(A) Levels, N(T) Levels, O Levels|
|Rates||Ranges from $20 - $40 per class up to $100 - $120 per class and above|
|Payment method||Credit card or bank transfer|
|Free demo videos||Available by booking|
|Ease of Use||Their website is easier to use when accessed using a smartphone than a desktop or laptop computer; also, some features present in smartphone view do not appear when viewed on a computer. Overall, it has a modern, colourful graphic design that is easily navigable. When browsing, the website can be adjusted using filters for School Level, Class Size, Price, etc. to make searching for tutors faster. However, there seems to be no downloadable app for mobile phone use.|
2. Champion Tutor Online
Champion Tutor Online is the online tuition arm of Champion Tutor, a home tuition agency that has gained decent reputation as a tuition service provider in Singapore. It aims to “connect the best tutors right at your screen” to secondary school students from Form 1 to 3 through three easy steps: Search Subjects, Browse Tutors, Start Lesson Demo.
|Subjects Offered||Geography, Higher Chinese, Social Studies, Chinese Language and Chinese Literature, English Language and English Literature, Malay Language and Malay Literature, Tamil Language and Tamil Literature, History, Science, Mathematics|
|GCE N Level, GCE O Level, Form 6 (STPM)|
|Rates||Starts at 10 USD per hour onwards|
|Payment method||Online bank transfer|
|Free class trial||Available|
|Ease of Use||Their website has a practical design and is straightforward in that students simply need to browse for a tutor depending on his school level and the subject, chat the shortlisted tutors to help the student choose the right tutor, and then tutorial session will commence in Champion Tutor’s virtual classroom.|
Founded in 2017, Teachnlearn calls itself a “one-stop online tuition with qualified tutors.” It is an online tuition marketplace that aims to make one-to-one live online tutoring accessible to students in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It offers a wide array of tuition services for secondary school levels through its own visual classrooms, albeit at a price higher than most online tuition service providers.
|Subjects Offered||Mathematics, Science, English, Chinese|
|O-Levels and A-Levels|
|Rates||Depends on the tutor’s qualification and experience|
|Payment method||Debit or credit card|
|Free class trial||Available by booking|
|Ease of Use||Their website has similar features when accessed on a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet, and a smartphone. It has a practical design that employs the same two colours throughout the website, and large icons and short texts to make browsing for tutors easier. However, it does not come downloadable via mobile app.|
Starting out in 2017, Tenopy is an online tuition platform that calls itself "Singapore's leading education tech company." It aims to develop active learning beyond the classroom by offering interactive live online tuition classes and programmes for secondary school students in class sizes that range from small groups of 4-6 students to large groups of 15-30 students. Note that it offers programmes, not sessions, which means that it is an online group tuition platform and currently, nowhere in the website does it say that it offers one-to-one sessions.
|Subjects Offered||English, Science, and Mathematics at fixed daily schedules|
|No information shown on the website|
|Rates||Starts at S$24 per lesson|
|Payment method||No information shown on the website|
|Free class trial||No information shown on the website|
|Ease of Use||Their website has similar features when accessed on a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet, and a smartphone. It has a practical design that consistently uses two main colours all throughout the website, large icons, and short texts to make browsing for tutors easier. However, some important information seems to be missing on their website. Also, it does not come downloadable via mobile app.|
Out of all the online tuition platforms listed here, iMath is the only one that offers purely Math tuition help to your teenager. The reason behind this is because iMath's founder Yueh Mei, (who holds a Master in Education (MEd) with NIE/NTU Singapore, as well as a Master of Arts in Education (MA) with Stanford University, USA), during her travels across the globe to teach and train teachers, saw how basic and important Math and math skills are wherever you are in the world, whoever you may be. That is why she decided to put together a team of dedicated math experts and enthusiasts, along with curated tutors, to create an online learning community that would help reach out to students experiencing difficulties in math. What iMath aims to do is not only teach math to the youth but to help them master it enough for them to make confident strides in math. More importantly, iMath aims to do this not with just one "super teacher" or "super tutor" alone but with the help of an entire community including parents and students themselves.
|Subjects Offered||All things Maths and Maths-related|
|N(A) Levels, N(T) Levels, O Levels|
|Rates||Starts at S$15|
|Payment method||The iMath-designed iMath wallet is the primary payment method of students and parents; credit card|
|Free class trial||Available by booking|
|Ease of Use||Uses modern and colourful graphics but maintains “clean” design using large fonts and encouraging texts; User-friendly with chatbot messaging support; Informative and up-to-date with a Blog page for parents researching about Maths and tuition options in Singapore; Can be downloadable via Google Store or App Store to make online tuition access faster and easier.|
If what you’re looking for is flexible and affordable maths tuition that your teenager can finally look forward to, then iMath may be what you’re looking for. With its focus on a single field of study to assure parents the best maths assistance for their teens; its community (not just a tutor marketplace) of math experts and enthusiasts to help your teenager become confident in math; easy homework help that works by simply making him take a photo of his homework and posting it to the community wall; a Community Wall that is free of access and is useful for his quick math-related queries or quick homework help, your teenager is bound to enjoy online tuition. No more sleepy tuition centres that only makes him feel as restricted as a traditional classroom, or private tuition that can be taxing because of its one-to-one intensity—iMath has the perfect solution in offering online maths help to your teenager. And, with a downloadable app for smartphones, he can practice independent tracking of his tuition classes by simply checking his schedule on the iMath app. With iMath, there is no need to always book a tutor if it’s just for simple and quick Math help—something your teenager can appreciate if he is trying to learn independently with just the right amount of guidance from a supportive online math community. Let your child try iMath today and have him experience the difference iMath is making in online tutoring.