For many Thai students nowadays summer doesn't mean holidays, as they have to spend most of their time at tutorial schools.
Vowpailin Chovichien, second secretary for the peace, security and disarmament division at the International Organisations Department of the Foreign Ministry, said the rationale behind this may not be easy to grasp, especially for the older generations. However, it is seen as a normal practice for students and parents these days.
The quality of teaching, tips for exams, and different perspectives towards subjects help boost the popularity of tutorials in Asia, including Thailand. Such businesses are booming even in the international educational system in Thailand, where students from the US and UK curricula flock to tutorial schools in Bangkok.
Pornthep “Kru A” Srisuttiyan was one of the first tutors who specifically aimed to teach international-school students. Experienced in this business for almost 20 years, he now owns Excellent Preparatory Academy (EPA) situated at the Asia Hotel building, with about 30 teachers specialising in subjects ranging from English and mathematics to physics and biology for both the US and UK systems.
The reason for the existence of specific tutorial schools for international-school students lies in the fact that there are crucial differences between the international and Thai educational systems. Such differences, Pornthep explains, stem from the focus of each system.
“Whereas the Thai educational system requires broad-based knowledge with a huge amount of materials, international systems are more focused. The UK system stresses the rationalisation of theoretical principles and the elaboration of ideas, while the US system stresses the application of the body of knowledge. Thus they require different teaching and learning methods and tools,” Pornthep said.
It is estimated that many thousands of students in the international-school systems reach out for tutors, including those already studying in the United States or Britain.
Nakorn “Nick” Manoonpong, 19, had been one of the students at EPA since his years at Harrow International School Bangkok and in Australia before he got accepted by Imperial College London, one of the top five universities in Britain.
Most of the classes at EPA use a one-on-one system, one exception being a popular course preparing for the SAT, the US university-entrance exam. This is different from most famous Thai tutorial schools, which usually offer larger classrooms – sometimes with many hundreds of students in the same room watching videotapes of famous tutors.
EPA will hold a free workshop on “Tips and Strategies for Undergraduate Admissions – US Colleges” tomorrow at the academy. This workshop will feature alumni from Ivy League universities in the US and can be registered for at www.epa.co.th/workshop.
L The writer is a graduate of London School of Economics and Political Science, and King's College. London.