How are you? Have you read an article in The Sunday Times today about Kelvin Ong?
He is accused of lying about being a student and later a teacher in GEP. He had also charged many parents high tuition fees by claiming to get their children into the GEP. Now, many parents are asking him for a refund for false credentials and false claims.
A parent also wrote to the forum asking for MOE to set up a council to regulate the tuition industry to protect parents against errant tutors out to cheat them of money.
After reading it, I felt a bit sour about my past misfortune. As you know, I was not paid by some parents while I was a tutor. I was not brooding about the past.
It is just that I felt that the media would usually publish stories of errant tutors or sex scandals involving teachers. I haven’t come across stories of parents who cheated tutors of their fees.
I can understand that they may be some families which are in financial constraints and we need to show them some compassion. But, there were those few black sheep who delibrately cheated tutors to get free tuition for their kids.
I have known a school teacher who was given only partial payment by a parent a long time after the tuition fees were due. The school teacher told me that she stlll taught the kid out of pity.
But she just gave tution part-time and still got to keep her school teacher job. What about the fate of full-time tutors? If all parents were out to cheat us, we would be working fo free with no recourse for our plight.
Can you publish my story again? I sent you my story in February to raise awareness about the difficulties tutors face. I think nobody would want to sue the parents in court for just a small sum. It is not worth the money and effort, but does that mean that frreelance tutors couldn’t find a way out of our plight?
I can say that teaching is a very fulfilling job, but tutors also need some protection too in times of disputes with parents. Usually, we depend on trust of the parents. Even if we are not in the wrong, the parents would give excuses to avoid payment. Thus, it is very difficult to prove that they have defaulted on the payment even if the case ended up in court.
I still love to teach, but the problem is that we cannot choose the students and parents we want. Even though I have quit teaching for so long, I cannot find another job that is so fulfilling.
Office work was always mundane and I always felt like a robot. I find it almost impossible to reconcile passion with survival. Most people told me that they worked for survival only and I know that only a few fortunate ones can work with passion.
I have tried working for survival but felt very meaningless. Teaching in a school is also not an option as I have tried before and found it very stressful with other admin duties.
Anyway, thanks for your time. I just hope that someone can enlighten me about the above issues.
Thanks for your mail and sorry to hear about your predicament.
I can’t comment on Kelvin Ong as I have not read the article yet.
I don’t think that the government will really care about the plight of fee lance tutors here when it doesn’t even bother about the welfare of our own full time professional executives in the work force.
Nevertheless, on a personal note, I thought that tutoring suits you well after meeting up with you for a few times.
You have found full time work stressful and mundane.
Doing what interests us is also important as its easier to last the distance when the going gets tough.
Alot of Singaporeans tried tutoring and many have made it.
Ex-teachers have an added advantage here as the experience helps them with the credentials.
Parents generally prefer ex-teachers and are willing to pay them better rates.
Of course, I have met many non-teachers who have make it good as full time tutors.
If you love to impart knowledge on a one-to-one basis, tutoring is certainly the right job for you.
However, the flexibility of the job means that sometimes the income will fluctuate so its good to work out your finances well to cover the long school holidays whereby there won’t be any income.
One way to ensure that parents pay up is to introduce a discount format e.g. if they pay in advance they have a certain discount built into the fees.
This way the parents will enjoy a discounted rate plus you get your fees earlier.
I guess you need to learn to be more enterprising on how you sell yourself to the parents.
I find you slightly mild and laid back and sometimes parents will take advantage of your soft personality.
Don’t be afriad to impose yourself if you found that you are being taken for a ride.
Take care and do write to me whenever you feel like.