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The tutor who earned $520,000

Sep 3, 2010

The tutor who earned $520,000

By Rachel Scully, Multimedia Journalist

 

PHANG Yu Hon is part of the booming tuition industry in Singapore. Last year alone, he earned more than half a million dollars (after expenses) as a full-time physics tutor.

According to the Department of Statistics, the local tuition industry was reported to be worth $820 million in 2008, up from $470 million in 1998.

In the same period of 10 years, 400 more tuition centres sprang up across Singapore, bringing the total number of tuition centres in Singapore to 500.

So what is causing such a great demand for tuition? Is it mere ‘kiasu-ism’, or does tuition really improve a student’s grades? The lack of transparency in the industry makes it difficult to tell.

Koh Sheng Jie was graded Band 3 for Mathematics in Primary 4. That’s just a pass. Post-tuition, his Maths grade improved to an A2 for ‘O’ Levels.

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From $220 monthly takings to $20,000

Full-time tutor of 14 years now takes home thousands compared to his first stint which earned him $220.

Tue, Jun 17, 2008
The Straits Times

By Becky Lo

In the first three months of becoming a full-time tutor, Mr Phang Yu Hon earned a mere $220 monthly from his one student.

Related link:170 students on waiting list

Now, the physics tutor has close to 90 students and earns about $20,000 a month.

The 41-year-old gave up his research engineer job after four years at the Ministry of Defence in 1994 and decided to tutor full-time.

“I had been giving part-time tuition and found I had a flair for teaching,” said Mr Phang.

He said it is not uncommon now for an entire extended family of children to attend his sessions.

“Word gets around and, year after year, cousins, siblings, the whole family, they come back to me for tuition,” he said.

Mr Phang has turned one of the rooms in his three-room Bishan flat into a mini-classroom, with desks, chairs and a whiteboard.

On weekdays, he gives lessons from 7 to 9pm. Weekends are packed with classes from 12.30 to 9pm.

Until two years ago, Mr Phang was “running around the island” giving individual one-on-one sessions.

“Group tuition can be achieved only by tutors who have reached a certain degree of stature and experience,” he said.

“When I started, I gave individual sessions, driving around Singapore like a taxi driver.”

The full-time tutor of 14 years was a Raffles Institution student.

He graduated with first-class honours in electrical engineering from the National University of Singapore.

This article was first published in The Straits Times on 15 June 2008.

PS: Keen now to start a small tuition centre after reading this article? Do email me at gilbert@transitioning.org – I will then place like-minded people together and maybe who knows  some of you can collaborate and do something concrete together.  A group effort is always better than one person – Gilbert

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