The Cost of "Kiasu" Culture In Singapore
 
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The Cost of "Kiasu" Culture In Singapore

Rachel Yeo
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In Singapore, our tuition and enrichment industry is worth $1 billion a year, and this should come as no surprise for Singaporeans who have gone through the rigour of our education system.

In the past few years before joining the Seedly team, I’ve worked as a part-time kindergarten teacher, a music enrichment teacher, and a camp instructor for kids, all of which were lucrative jobs, due to high demand from parents.

Now at Seedly, I spend my weekends tutoring 4 (really cute, but insufferable) primary school kids, and sad to say, this is truly how some of their lives look like:

kiasu kid tuition parents stress meme singapore
Source: SGAG | Facebook

 

With tuition and enrichment classes aplenty, I sometimes go to class with my kids looking like this

sad baby stress tuition singapore
“Teacher Rach I don’t want tuition today ):” (Source: Giphy) 

Tuition and enrichment classes are a privilege. Granted, there are students who don’t have them, but with rising competition and a FOMO mindset, it’s common for parents to enrol their kids in enrichment classes without a second thought.

School fees aside, if we were to subscribe to a kiasu asian mentality, how much would this cost when it comes to raising a child?

TL;DR: How Much Will Your Child’s Tuition And Enrichment  Classes Cost?  (From PreSchool to University)

cost kiasu culture singapore tuition enrichment class

Life StageTuition and EnrichmentFeesDurationTotal Cost
TOTAL 14 Years $93,035.40
PreSchoolYamaha Music Wonderland Course For 3 Year Olds369.15 / 3 Mths1 Year $1476.60
Primary School (Lower Pri: P3-P4)Tuition for English and Math at The Learning Lab (1x weekly/subject)400/mth per subject,
800/mth for 2 subjects
2 Years (24 months)$19,200
Swimming Lessons (1x weekly) 50/mth2 Years (24 months)$1,200
Primary School Upper Pri: P5-P6)Tuition for English and Math at The Learning Lab (1x weekly/subject)420/mth per subject
840/mth for 2 subjects
2 Years (24 months)$20,160
Piano Lessons- Individual Lessons @ Yamaha (Enrichment) (1x weekly)
171.20/mth 1 Year (12 Months) - assume lessons stop after P5, as student prepares for PSLE in P6 $2,054.40
Secondary School (Lower Sec)Tuition For 3 Subjects (English, Math and Science) at Mavis Tutorial Centre 165.85/mth (per subject)
497.55/mth (for 3 subjects)
2 Years (24 months)$11,941.20
Secondary School (Upper Sec)Tuition for 3 Subjects (e.g A Math, Physics, Chemistry) at Mavis Tutorial Centre219.35/mth
658.05/mth (3 subjects)
2 Years (24 months)$15,793.20
Junior CollegeTuition for 2 subjects (Private Tuition at market rate of $55/hr per subject) 440/mth (1x weekly, 2 hrs a session for 1 subject)
880/mth (1x weekly, 2 hrs a session for 2 subjects)
2 Years (24 months)$21,210

The Average Tuition Rates For All Levels In Singapore

Before delving in, here’s a very quick overview of the average tuition rates across different levels in Singapore. The rates vary according to level, subject, and the experience of the teacher, so how much you spend on each subject is subjective.

Student's Level Tuition Rates/ Hr Tuition Rates/Mth (1x weekly, 2hrs/session)
Pre-Primary $20-$35$160-$280
Primary 1-3 $25-$50$200-$400
Primary 4-6 $35-$65$280-$520
Sec 1-2 $30-$80 $240-$650
Sec 3-5 $35-$90$280-$720
JC and Post Secondary $55-$130$440-$1,040
Adult $35-$130 $280-$1,040

Finding out how much you’ve spent on tuition and enrichment is a highly personalised endeavour: you may have dropped out of a tuition class after a semester, opt for a cheaper alternative, quit learning the piano etc.

So if you want a more accurate gauge of how much of your parents’ money you’ve spent, you will have to calculate it yourself!

Here, we assume your kids to be taking the following tuition and enrichment classes at these different life stages:

Life Stage Assumption: Tuition and Enrichment Classes Taken By Your Kid
Pre-School 1 Enrichment Class: To Improve Reading/ Phonics.
Primary School Tuition: 2 Subjects (1x weekly, 2 hrs for each subject)
Enrichment: 1 music class (1x weekly), 1 swimming lesson (1x weekly)
Secondary School Tuition: 3 out of 8 Subjects,
Enrichment Classes: NIL
JC/ Post Secondary Tuition Classes: 2
Enrichment: NIL
University Tuition Classes: NIL
Enrichment Classes: NIL

As tuition rates and enrichment fees varies across centres, I will also be using tuition rates from popular and mainstream tuition and enrichment centres as a gauge.

Prologue: Pre-School (Age: 3-7 Years Old)

cute baby asian
Source: Giphy

From baby spas to coding  and robotics classes for 6 years olds, there are numerous classes that you can sign your kids up for when they are still in kindergarten.

Let’s start off by assuming that you’re not TOO kiasu, so you are just enrolling your 3-year-old in a music enrichment class at Yamaha for 1 year.

Life Stage Tuition and EnrichmentFees Duration Total Cost
PreSchoolYamaha Music Wonderland Course For 3 Year Olds369.15 / 3 Mths1 Year $1476.60

Chapter 1: Primary School (Age: 7-12 Years Old)

primary school

Primary school days evoke a sense of nostalgia for many of us: cheap, icy blue soft drinks, plates of fried noodles with chicken nuggets at 50 cents, and playing catch with friends during recess are among some of my fondest memories.

Yet, for many, primary school also meant long tuition classes after school at mega tuition centres like Tian Xia, MindChamps, Andrew Er, Mavis, or the Learning Lab, or swimming and enrichment classes over the weekends.

Understandably, parents want the best for their child, and primary school is the best time for children to grow and develop. So why not stretch them to their full potential, so that they have more options later in life?

Most kids I know go through 2-3 tuition classes a week, coupled with learning a musical instrument (usually piano, violin, or drums), or a sport enrichment (e.g swimming lessons). As such, I will base my assumption on that:

Life StageTuition and EnrichmentFeesDurationTotal Cost
Primary School (Lower Pri: P3-P4)Tuition for English and Math at The Learning Lab (1x weekly/subject)400/mth per subject,
800/mth for 2 subjects
2 Years (24 months)$19,200
Swimming Lessons (1x weekly) 50/mth2 Years (24 months)$1,200
Primary School Upper Pri: P5-P6)Tuition for English and Math at The Learning Lab (1x weekly/subject)420/mth per subject
840/mth for 2 subjects
2 Years (24 months)$20,160
Piano Lessons- Individual Lessons @ Yamaha (Enrichment) (1x weekly)
171.20/mth 1 Year (12 Months) - assume lessons stop after P5, as student prepares for PSLE in P6 $2,054.40

For those whose primary school lives were similar to how I’ve described, the total estimated cost your parents spend on tuition and enrichment in primary school will be $44,091, just for your primary school education!

To put this amount into context, this amount is almost equivalent to the cost of getting a bachelor’s degree at the National University of Singapore!

Chapter 2: Secondary School (Age: 13-16 Years Old)

book stress overworked secondary school
Source: Giphy

It is common for children to start rebelling in secondary school, and for parents, this may be a difficult phase you have to go through with your child.

By this time, we assume that enrichment classes are no longer imposed on your child. For variety’s sake, we have also swapped tuition centres to get a better gauge of the different tuition centre rates in the current market.

Life StageTuition and EnrichmentFeesDurationTotal Cost
Secondary School (Lower Sec)Tuition For 3 Subjects (English, Math and Science) at Mavis Tutorial Centre 165.85/mth (per subject)
497.55/mth (for 3 subjects)
2 Years (24 months)$11,941.20
Secondary School (Upper Sec)Tuition for 3 Subjects (e.g A Math, Physics, Chemistry) at Mavis Tutorial Centre219.35/mth
658.05/mth (3 subjects)
2 Years (24 months)$15,793.20

At this point, assuming that you’ve been going for tuition and enrichment for the past 10+ years of your education life, you would have spent an estimated, cumulative total of $71,825.40.

Chapter 3: Junior College/ Post-Secondary School (Age: 17-19 Years Old)

doggo study bored cute junior college university
Source: Giphy

For those who’ve taken the Junior College route for their education, you would be able to empathise with the intensity and rigour of the A-Levels Examination. It is not uncommon to see students going for tuition at a Junior College level, especially for subjects like General Paper, Economics and Mathematics.

Let’s say you are taking the JC/A levels education route, and you were to have tuition for 2 of your weakest subjects in A levels. Here’s how much you would spend:

Life StageTuition and EnrichmentFeesDurationTotal Cost
Junior CollegeTuition for 2 subjects (Private Tuition at market rate of $55/hr per subject) 440/mth (1x weekly, 2 hrs a session for 1 subject)
880/mth (1x weekly, 2 hrs a session for 2 subjects)
2 Years (24 months)$10,560

Epilogue: University (Age: 19 and Above)

university end near fire graduation cost
Source: Giphy

Congratulations! With the unfailing support of your parents and the numerous tuition and enrichment classes, you have successfully enrolled in the university of your choice!

Assuming that you no longer need tuition and support from tuition and enrichment classes in university, here’s the total of how much your parents would have spent on tuition and enrichment for 15 years of your education journey in Singapore:

Life StageTuition and EnrichmentFeesDurationTotal Cost
TOTAL 14 Years $93,035.40
PreSchoolYamaha Music Wonderland Course For 3 Year Olds369.15 / 3 Mths1 Year $1476.60
Primary School (Lower Pri: P3-P4)Tuition for English and Math at The Learning Lab (1x weekly/subject)400/mth per subject,
800/mth for 2 subjects
2 Years (24 months)$19,200
Swimming Lessons (1x weekly) 50/mth2 Years (24 months)$1,200
Primary School Upper Pri: P5-P6)Tuition for English and Math at The Learning Lab (1x weekly/subject)420/mth per subject
840/mth for 2 subjects
2 Years (24 months)$20,160
Piano Lessons- Individual Lessons @ Yamaha (Enrichment) (1x weekly)
171.20/mth 1 Year (12 Months) - assume lessons stop after P5, as student prepares for PSLE in P6 $2,054.40
Secondary School (Lower Sec)Tuition For 3 Subjects (English, Math and Science) at Mavis Tutorial Centre 165.85/mth (per subject)
497.55/mth (for 3 subjects)
2 Years (24 months)$11,941.20
Secondary School (Upper Sec)Tuition for 3 Subjects (e.g A Math, Physics, Chemistry) at Mavis Tutorial Centre219.35/mth
658.05/mth (3 subjects)
2 Years (24 months)$15,793.20
Junior CollegeTuition for 2 subjects (Private Tuition at market rate of $55/hr per subject) 440/mth (1x weekly, 2 hrs a session for 1 subject)
880/mth (1x weekly, 2 hrs a session for 2 subjects)
2 Years (24 months)$21,210

So what can you do with $93,035.40?

money

Instead of spending the money on tuition and enrichment classes, your parents could have:

  • Gone on a trip around the world
  • Buy a boat, or a yacht
  • Invest to get more $$$
  • Get some Gucci and Prada bags
  • Buy a horse (~$75,000)

Ok, I’m kidding.

Of course, some may argue that without the additional help afforded by tuition and enrichment classes, you may not be as successful as you are today. Granted, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and additional help goes a long way, especially for students who are struggling academically.

The benefits tuition and enrichment afford are oftentimes intangible, but longlasting. To many, spending ~$93,000 on your child’s future may seem like a reasonable amount as well.

Yet, is this really necessary? Or is it extravagant?

Other than the monetary costs of such classes fuelling Singapore’s kiasu culture, we have to also include the intangible costs of such a culture. Some things to consider include:

  • The well-being and mental health of your child- is he/she able to cope with such a packed schedule?
  • Will an over-reliance on tuition and enrichment classes hinder your child’s character development and learning ability? (e.g hindered growth in independent learning etc)
  • Other opportunity costs:
    • Time is a precious commodity, and overloading your child with tuition and enrichment may hinder his/her growth in areas he/she is interested in.
    • Too many tuition classes may hinder family time, bonding, and your child’s social life.

At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide how you’d like to raise your child. Force-feeding tuition and enrichment classes may or may not guarantee your child’s success, but it is definitely a stretch for the average person’s expenses.

What do you think? Is spending $93,035.40 on tuition and enrichment classes for your child’s growth worth it? Share your thoughts with us and the Seedly Community! 🙂

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About Rachel Yeo
Breaking down complicated financial pieces into idiot-proof articles.
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