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Queen of the Tiger Moms takes on Singapore

'Tiger Mom' launches enrichment hub in Singapore

Yale law professor and author Amy Chua, better known as the iron-fisted Asian-American Tiger Mom, is exporting her parenting style to Singapore, with the launch of an after-school enrichment center in the tuition-crazy city-state.

The Keys Academy, which focuses both academics as well as soft skills such as creativity and leadership, aims to groom secondary-school students for university and "jobs of the future," with classes in robot-building and computer-coding as well as "externships" with global corporations and college admissions programs.

"It's the best of both worlds," 52-year old Chua, who is one of four advisers to the center, told CNBC on Thursday. "I like that Keys Academy preserves the hard core 'you need to know the basics, and there's no way around that hard work.' But, [it equally focuses on] personal communication skills, how can you be interesting and dynamic, because that's really what it takes now."

It should be no surprise Keys Academy would choose Singapore as its first location globally.

Amy Chua
AFP | Getty Images

Seventy percent of parents in the city-state enroll their kids in private tuition lessons, according to a survey of 500 parents published in July by local newspaper The Straits Times and research company Nexus Link.

Families in the city-state spend an estimated 1 billion Singapore dollars on extra classes annually in order to boost their children's grades. The Keys Academy has no current plans to launch in other countries.

And while a fair number of Singaporean parents may be on the same page with regards to Chua's parenting style, her notion of what it takes to raise a successful child stirred a storm of controversy in the West not long ago.

In 2011, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by Chua titled "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior", in which she listed 10 things her two daughters were forbidden from doing while growing up; the list included attending sleepovers, having playdates, being in a school play and getting any grade less than an A.

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Here's a taste of the WSJ article: "If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A."

Later that year Chua published a book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", that only added to the furore.

The opinion piece was reportedly one of the WSJ's 'most-commented' of all time, and Chua told The Guardian that she subsequently received death threats.

Chua, however, told CNBC on Thursday that she tended to look past the backlash to the product of her hard work: her daughters – Sophia, who graduated from Harvard earlier this year, and Louisa, who is currently following in her sister's footsteps at the prestigious university.

"I'm really proud of both my daughters. We're really good friends, they are happy [and] well adjusted," Chua said. "Parenting is the hardest thing I've ever done; no one should pretend it's easy. You have to constantly try to keep adjusting, listening to your kids, doing your best," she added.