Private Tutoring in Asia is Prevalent and Big Business

Source: NYTimes, Aug 2012

Once the domain of the elite, private tutoring has become widespread across Asia, according to a report released in July by the Asian Development Bank and the Comparative Education Research Center at the University of Hong Kong.

The report quoted studies, polls and other sources as saying that 97 percent of all Singaporean students, nearly 90 percent of South Korean primary students and about 85 percent of Hong Kong senior secondary students receive tutoring.

Many Asian families devote vast sums to supplement government education. “The most dramatic number is Korea,” said Mr. Bray, who is also a professor of comparative education at the University of Hong Kong, “where households are spending the equivalent of 80 percent of what the government is spending.”

… two South Korean celebrity tutors: Woo Hyeong-cheol, who reportedly earns $3.9 million per year offering Web-based math classes to 50,000 students; and Rose Lee, “the Queen of English,” said to earn $6.8 million per year, also through online classes.

The report found that tutoring could worsen social inequalities, cause stress for families and reduce the time students spent on other activities.

A recent letter in The Straits Times, the biggest newspaper in Singapore, said that many parents wanted a more balanced education for their children and that social mobility might be affected by the heavy reliance on extra tutoring, also known as “tuition.”


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