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With the proliferation of private centres and institutions aimed at helping students improve their grades, it is vital for people to choose the right service for them especially when faced with plenty of choices in the private education market. Being bombarded by terms such as learning centre, tuition centre as well as literacy centres, it is unsurprising that we tend to see them as the same. This article will help us distinguish a learning centre from a tuition centre.
Firstly, what makes are learning centre different from a tuition centre is the different objectives that each of them set. Looking at the definitions will give us a clearer picture. A learning centre is defined as a self-contained section of a designated area in which students engage in independent and self-directed learning activities with the help of carefully planned activities and materials prepared to facilitate learning outcomes. Commonly, it is where students congregate in small groups to accomplish given learning tasks. Typically, students can work independently in these centres, sometimes while the teacher works with a small reading group.
On the other hand, a tuition centre is a special term for private educational institutions. They are usually in abundance and is most popular in countries such as Indonesia, India, Singapore as well as in the Middle Eastern regions. Students are usually taught how to tackle examination questions. The main focus is on rote learning.
From these definitions, we can see that the main difference is the objective that these centres want to achieve. The former promotes independent learning amongst students whereas the latter usually feed students with the relevant information straight away and students are then encourage to memorise whatever that is being taught. In other words, this is often termed as rote learning. Learning centres advocate the learning process of self-discovery, whereby teachers do not merely “spoon feed”. Instead, students are given tasks that help them learn and discover along the way.
This leads us to the next point of the effectiveness of each of them. While both are effective in helping students improve their grades generally, it is good to note that learning centres, having to equip students with the skill of learning, will take a longer time, as compared to tuition centres, to show their effectiveness. This is because picking up a new skill involves time and consistent practice is needed for students to acquire a skill, which will translate to a longer time for its effectiveness to show.
Conversely, enrolling into a tuition centre is a quick remedy to bad grades as students are just “spoon-fed” with the information that is needed in exams (according to the syllabus). This helps students to gain the relevant knowledge quickly so that they are able to perform better in their next exam. Clearly, this also shows the advantage of rote learning as grades can jump a lot within a short period of time as long as the student puts in his/her fair share of effort to absorb what the teacher has taught and put in into his memory.
Having said all of that, another difference of a learning centre and tuition centre is also their specialty and the customers that they will eventually attract. In a society such as Singapore, who primarily focuses on rote learning, tuition centres are usually sought after by students who want to give a little boost to their already bad/excellent grades. So what is the relevance of a learning centre then? It is good to note that, despite Singaporean students being pushed and funnelled into rote learning, it does not suit everybody as there simply isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to learning. For one, children with learning difficulties fall through the cracks and are thus left out when they see their peers excelling. Therefore, these students need a special form of help for them to integrate into the MOE education system. Learning centres will, hence, be a better option for them. Overall, tuition centres focus in rote learning whereas learning centres commonly focus in other forms of effective learning to help a student learn better.
Consequently, the type of skill set that is required by the teacher will differ for the two respective centres due to the different type of service that the two centres fundamentally provide. For a learning centre, more specialised skills is required from the teacher as students are taught effective learning skills, instead of the content from the syllabus. Also, as learning centres are supposed to work with the needs of different learning methods that each student possess (thus, the need to equip them with the learning skill), a specialised degree may be required, depending on what the objectives of the learning centres are.
In contrast, tuition centres are more lax in their requirements of a teacher. Anybody who is able or have a passion for teaching can teach. This is especially for private tutoring, where NIE teachers are not necessarily required to teach as long as the student does not demand for a NIE teacher.
Moreover, the job scope of the teachers will also differ. Since learning centres are for self-discovery and self-directed learning, it implies that teachers do not need to stand in front of the classroom all the time to deliver a lesson. If the lesson lasts for two hours, teachers need not deliver for two hours. They only attend to the student when there is a need to (i.e. activities are to be held) or when the student needs it. On the other hand, as tuition centres are focused on teaching students the relevant knowledge, they are similar to conventional classroom teaching, whereby, teachers have to stand in front of the classroom and deliver the content knowledge. If the tuition lasts for two hours, tutors deliver the content for two hours.
However, not to be ignored, some similarities exist between a learning and tuition centre. Despite their stark differences, both will eventually help students improve their grades. Finally, both centres serve as supplements to schools, which most students are supposed to attend in Singapore.