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I don't want my children to be left behind

He does not know what his kids' grades are, why or how tuition would help, but he forks out money for it anyway.

All he knows is that he fears what might happen if they do not get extra help.

"In my days, I didn't have any tuition, but it's different now.

"If my children don't have tuition, I'm afraid they'll be left behind," maintains security supervisor Mr Kamarudin Abu Samah, 47.

A father of five, his second and third child go for primary- and secondary-level maths tuition because "it's their weakest subject".

Each weekly two-hour session costs Mr Kamarudin $120 each month per child.

It is significantly cheaper because their tutor is a relative. Indeed, private tutors charge a few times more for the same type of classes.

Mr Kamarudin says: "I know there are better and more expensive options, but having some tuition is better than not having any."

He believes these extra classes are a necessity, not a luxury.

COMBINED INCOME

Mr Kamarudin and his wife, an administrative assistant, earn a combined monthly income of about $4,000. It may sound sufficient, but not much is left after deducting the allowance given to their parents and paying the bills.

His children's education takes up a large part of their incomes. On top of the tuition fees, he pays $200 every month for religious classes for two of his children. One child is also diagnosed with hyperactivity and requires behavioural therapy.

Says Mr Kamarudin: "Here and there, it all adds up."

NOT CUTTING BACK

Indeed, during some months, there are no savings at all.

Yet, tuition is not something he plans to cut back on.

When asked why he doesn't feel a school education alone is enough for his children, Mr Kamarudin seems uncertain in his answer.

"You need the paper (qualifications). If not, how to survive? This is Singapore, a meritocracy. Of course they need tuition," he maintains.

It looks like that thinking is not going to change in the future either.

His fourth child is set to enter Primary 1 next year, although Mr Kamarudin has little intention of signing him up for classes just yet.

"Maybe in a few years time, he'll go for tuition too."