The official definition of tuition by the Oxford dictionary is “Teaching or instruction, especially of individual pupils or small groups”. But in Singapore, we have our own definition of tuition. This definition is uniquely present in only our culture. For Singaporeans, tuition means “If others have then I must have. If others don’t, then I also must have”.
Singapore has gained a notorious reputation for being a “tuition nation”. According to Straits Times, students and parents in Singapore spend up to S$1.1 billion a year on tuition. For comparison, Instagram influencer market is worth S$1.4 billion a year. If tuition was a startup, it would have gotten the fabled startup title of ‘unicorn’.
Tuition for pre-school
No, you didn’t read the title wrong. There are tuition centres in the market that offers tuition for your pre-school child. Pre-school education starts from nursery all the way to kindergarten 2. Subjects that you can enrol your child in include English, Mother Tongue and Math.
Home tutor for pre-schoolers
The cost of home tuition ranges from S$15 to S$50 per hour depending on the experience of the tutor. For Diploma or undergraduate tutors, the tuition cost is S$15-25 per hour. If you opt for full-time tutors or graduate tutors, you will have to fork out slightly more, i.e. S$25-30 per hour. The most expensive tutors are NIE-trained teachers (current or ex), who charge a premium for their service, i.e. S$30-50 per hour.
Tuition for primary school
Tuition for primary students is classified into two distinct groups: Lower primary (1-3) and upper primary (4-6). If your child is in lower primary (1-3), the cost of tuition would be slightly lower than those in the upper primary level.
Tuition centres typically charge between S$10-25 per hour if your child is in the lower primary. As your child progresses to upper primary, the cost of tuition goes up to S$15-30 per hour.
Home tutor vs tuition centre
As a parent, you have two options to choose from. You can either choose to join tuition centres or opt for home tuition for your child. The cost of home tuition is slightly higher than tuition centres because of the 1-to-1 teaching style of home tutors.
Furthermore, you have the flexibility to arrange tuition timings with your child’s tutor without accommodating anyone. For home tutors, the hourly rate is also dependent on the qualification of the tutor.
In general, there is a $15-20 difference in hourly tuition rates between home tutors and tuition centres. This is because tuition centres can leverage on having a larger class size. Home tutors typically do a 1-to-1 lesson or a 1-to-2 lesson if you have two kids that are close in age.
Tuition for secondary school
Similarly, tuition for secondary students is also classified into two distinct groups: Lower secondary (1-2) and upper secondary (3-5). Similar to tuitions for primary students, tuition centres also offer tuition for English, Math, Science and Mother Tongue.
If your child is in lower secondary, the cost of tuition would be slightly lower. For lower secondary, tuition fees range from S$15-30 per hour per subject.
As your child progresses to upper secondary, subjects like Math and Science will be split into more specialised subjects. Math subjects will include Elementary Math and Additional Math. Science subjects will be split into Combined Science and Pure Science, depending on the subject combination of your child. For upper secondary, tuition fees range from S$20-40 per hour per subject.
Home tuition for secondary kids
If you prefer your child to study in the comfort of your own home, you can opt for home tutors. In the case of secondary level tuition, tuition fees are generally S$20-30 higher per hour per subject for home tuition.
Also, tuition for secondary school students is mainly for common subjects. In the event you want to send your child for humanities tuition, you will have to seek the service of home tutors.
Overall cost of tuition
To help you better gauge the cost of tuition for your child, here is a list of the overall monthly cost of tuition. The calculation assumes that each child attends four tuition lessons per month for each subject where each lesson lasts two hours.
As you can see, the cost of sending your child for tuition does not come cheap. But for most parents, it is a price that we are willing to pay to give our children a better head start in life.