Milk powder isn’t the only thing parents in Singapore are willing to pay a premium for to get the “best” for their children.
The splurging does not stop at the infant stage – posh kindergartens and elite tuition centres have waiting lists despite their higher fees.
Tuition and pre-school industry veteran Kong Yew Kiin related a case in which a couple with a combined monthly income of less than $5,000 was willing to pay $5,000 for a “last-minute results transformation” course for A-level students at the tuition centre he founded, Advo Education Centre.
Direct School Admission (DSA) preparatory courses, too, have gained popularity among parents who want their children to get into top schools.
It sprouted an industry that helps students ace the highly-competitive selection process.
Catalyst Empowerment, which offers a six-hour foundation programme that teaches students how to tackle the DSA interview, has seen demand grow by 50 per cent year-on-year, said founder Gary Guwe.
He has been conducting such classes for the past eight years. These courses cost an average of $100 to $150 an hour, he said.
Similarly, interest in Paideia Learning Academy‘s DSA interview preparatory workshop has spiked over the years.
The three-day workshop, which costs $580, covers topics such as interview skills and portfolio preparation. Participants also experience a mock DSA interview.
To cater to the demand, Paideia’s principal, Mrs Jacqueline Chua, increased the number of workshops from eight in 2015 to 10 this year.
But not all parents who sign up for such courses are “kiasu”, said Mr Guwe.
“They are normal parents who want their kids to have a less stressful time throughout the DSA process, which can be intimidating, so additional preparation is necessary,” he said.
Parents who go the extra mile are not unique to Singapore.
Cram schools that offer intense preparation for entrance exams are common in China, South Korea and Japan, but they too have evolved and are now more competitive.
In Shanghai, pre-school kids are enrolled in such schools in hopes of getting into prestigious primary schools that require an entrance exam, reported Foreign Policy magazine last year.
In Seoul, the hagwon (cram school) is an 18 trillion won (S$22.2 billion) industry and there are dedicated cram schools to help students gain entry to an elite cram school.
Next page: Why are parents splurging on tuition?