You can always tell when the PSLE or “O” Levels come around. People involved look haggard, and if you gave them a syringe they’d start mainlining coffee and chicken essence. I’m not talking about the students either; I’m talking about the parents, working two jobs to pay off the tuition fees. But with every one’s out to hire the best, how much should good tuition cost?
In general, tuition fees depend on five factors:
- Whether the tutor is private or from an agency
- Whether the tutor travels to the home
- The hours involved
- The qualifications of the tutor
- The school grade of the student
Agencies vs. Private Tutors
Some tutors may be Ministry of Education (MoE) teachers, who are not allowed to give more than six hours of tuition each month. In addition, they cannot register as an employee of a tuition agency. As such, they act as private tutors instead.
Because they are actual teachers and have limited hours, these private tutors are in very high demand. It’s not unheard of for prices to hit $70 an hour, even for upper primary.
Agency tutors, on the other hand, adhere to a market rate. They are usually cheaper than private tutors:
Student’s Grade Level
Primary 1 – 3
$15 – $18 per hour
Primary 4 – 6
$18 – $20 per hour
Secondary 1 – 2
$22 – $25 per hour
Secondary 3 – 5
$25 – $30 per hour
$35 – $40 per hour
Usually, there’s no price difference between diploma and degree holders. However, tutors with National Institute of Education (NIE) qualifications often charge 50 percent above the market rate. Tutors who are currently teaching in schools may go as high as double the market rate.
Another factor is “industry relevance”. This is related to the industry the tutor is currently working in. For example, getting an accountant to teach maths, or a physicist to teach science. For enrichment purposes (such as Maths Olympiad training), industry relevance might commend a 50 percent increase over the market rate.
Most tuition plans are one hour a week, intensifying to two or three hours a week as exams near. For this reason, it’s become unpopular for tutors to charge a monthly fee.
Some tutors provide value added services; for example, they may not charge for time spent correcting homework. In these cases, they usually give an additional half hour for free. Some tutors may charge more per hour on weekends; this is uncommon and not a local convention.
Most of the time, travel costs are borne by the tutor. Because it’s not a local convention to ask for travel expenses, most tutors will simply turn down a job that’s too far away.
If you have your heart set on a particular tutor, and they turn down your offer, ask if it’s due to travel expenses. Very often, offering to pay those expenses will make them change their minds.
Some tuition agencies have their own centres and classrooms. You might get a slight discount (less than 10 percent) by travelling to them instead. Private tutors sometimes teach in their own home, and may give you a similar discount if you’re willing to travel there.
What could be more appropriate than a breakdown for PSLE and “O” Levels?
|PSLE Tuition Costs||“O” Levels Tuition Costs|
|Base Cost||$20 per hour||$30 per hour|
|Tutor Qualifications||NIE trained (+ $10 per hour)||NIE trained (+$15 per hour)|
|Number of Hours||60 minutes per session, 8 sessions per month||90 minutes per session*, 8 sessions per month|
|Travel Costs||Travel to tutor’s house (- $3 per hour)||Tutor travels to home|
|Total per Month||$216||$360|
*30 minutes used to correct homework is discounted
Between using NIE trained tutors and tutors who are currently teaching, I suggest the former. It’s not as if the syllabus changes dramatically every five or even 10 years. And you’ll save a lot of money.
Do you hire tuition teachers for your child?
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