Education services bring in millions of dollars a year to the Singapore economy, but what is driving the demand for Malay Language tuition and why are some parents willing to spend thousands of dollars to secure a “Malay super tutor” for their child?

Given the high fees charged by such performance-driven and result-oriented Malay tuition teachers and the intense competition for places at top Singapore secondary schools it’s perhaps not surprising that tensions can sometimes run high.

In 15 years as an award-winning teacher, education specialist, lecturer and a private tutor Dr Elmi Zulkarnain Osman has helped thousands of students to achieve A stars and Distinctions (A1 and A2 grades) for their PSLE and GCE / GCSE O Level examinations. 

Private Malay tuition may not be as cheap as having a group tuition or having no tuition at all, and that can really put a dent in your pockets. With that being said, Malay tuition in itself shouldn’t be seen as a sunk cost after being spent, but rather as a worthy investment in the long run. Dubbed “a Malay Language super tutor” due to his students’ success rate, Dr Elmi Zulkarnain charges fees on a sliding scale, anywhere from $60 an hour up to a staggering $150 an hour.

At the upper end of the scale, Dr Elmi says occasionally it is typically consultancy. A short time to teach someone how to study for their Malay Language tests and also to prepare for an exam independently as opposed to a continuing arrangement.

Word of mouth recommendations have seen Dr Elmi Zulkarnain hired by wealthy businessmen, CEOs, entrepreneurs and top civil servants. Dr Elmi admits that the high pressure can create a toxic environment, and says experience has taught him to interview a family before he commits to a job. 

The Singapore education system is seen as one of the best in the world. Rich families, top management executives are very keen that their kids get the highest form of tutoring.

Hiring a Malay tutor (for MSP and Malay ab initio course too) is increasingly common in Singapore, particularly for those who want their children to go to top schools in Singapore and abroad. 

The fact that Dr Elmi Zulkarnain “sounds a bit posh” and went to top schools and universities are “valuable trading cards” in an industry which is “a lot about image as well as actual background.

The demand is high enough that three to four times a year Dr Elmi Zulkarnain Osman will get an “emergency call” from families desperate for his immediate services. Normally these calls come when a child has failed a preliminary exam and their parents panic.

Often, Dr Elmi will offer to tutor by Skype, but every so often when he’s offered a “large amount of money” he’ll agree to take leave from his full-time job as a company CEO to coach these students. These children have often got a lucrative family business to take over and will be the movers and shakers in their world. 

If excelling in Malay Language is your aim and you would like to search for an excellent and experienced Malay tutor (NIE-trained / Ministry of Education former or ex teacher), please contact Dr Elmi Zulkarnain Osman today. Follow Dr Elmi Zulkarnain Osman on his Instagram @elmizulkarnain or contact him via email at

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