The Big Read: Singapore’s endless love affair with private tuition just got deeper with Covid-19

SINGAPORE — Housewife Santi Choo’s two children briefly had Chinese tuition but by and large, she never believed in sending them for private tuition — not even when her older daughter sat for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) some years ago.

Covid-19, however, changed all that.

Despite the pandemic causing her husband to lose his job as a project manager in the middle of last year, they decided to spend about S$700 a month from January to hire two home tutors for their younger son, who is taking the PSLE this year, after seeing his maths and science grades plummet last year.

Mrs Choo, 46, blamed her son’s poor performance partly on home-based learning (HBL), which was first introduced when Singapore entered a two-month circuit breaker in April last year amid a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases.

“He thought of it as holidaying at home and took schooling too lightly,” she said.

She was further compelled to seek tuition for the 12-year-old boy after finding it increasingly hard to reach his school teachers.

“Normally, within a day or the following day, the teachers will reply, but nowadays, the replies are a bit slow,” she added.