iSLAM : bACK TP SCJPP; FPR PARENTS IN sINGAPORE
Back to school' for parents in Singapore
By Sarah Toms BBC News, Singapore
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Media caption Parents in Singapore are taking lessons to help with their children's difficult homework
It's early on a Sunday morning but "students" in Singapore are buckling down to solve mathematical problems as they prepare for primary school exams.
"There is a total of 5,421 cows and goats on the farm. If three quarters of the cows and 60% of the goats are sold, there will be an equal number of cows and goats left," the teacher says.
"How many cows and how many goats are there on the farm?"
A dozen pupils diligently work on the problem. But these are not children cramming. They're adults.
Sample of a mathematical problem in Singapore's school syllabus for 11 year-olds Many parents in Singapore find it difficult to keep up as their children are inundated with homework and exams in a highly demanding and competitive state-school system.
To help their children, some parents go back to school themselves, attending workshops offered by schools and private tuition centres.
'All about understanding'
Teachers say these sessions are not for parents who are bad at mathematics or English.
More stories from the BBC's Knowledge economy series looking at education from a global perspective and how to get in touch
"It's all about understanding what students do at school and how to solve complicated problems using the latest methods," said Nur Hidayah Ismail, the principal at Genius Young Minds tutorial centre.
"As a previous school teacher in a state school, parents kept asking me for help to coach them. I saw there was an urgency because they don't know how to coach their child at home," she added.
"When I resigned I thought I needed to help as parents were out of touch with the syllabus."
Nur Hidayah Ismail set up her own learning centre due to demand from parents The private tutorial centre - one of many in Singapore - is not just for parents. Their children also come here for tuition.
Parents get four full-day workshops for the equivalent of $500 (£318), which also includes four boot camps for their children in mathematics.
The adults are split into groups according to ability and knowledge of maths. Some start right back at the beginning because the style of teaching has changed dramatically over the years.
On a small island with a vibrant economy and a population of just over 5.5 million people, education is seen as vital to success.
Singapore ranked first in the world for maths and science in the latest OECD tests. That academic excellence is a great source of pride - and also anxiety.
Many parents feel they need to invest in tuition to give their children a head start.
A government survey shows that families here now spend $1.1bn Singapore dollars ($827m; £526m) a year on tuition. That's nearly double the amount from a decade ago.
Many parents flock to state schools for the refresher courses. But the private tuition centres - even those with high fees - are popular because they offer frequent sessions catered to the varying abilities of the parents.
11 year-old Adawiyah says her parents gained a better understanding of her homework
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