Running the rat race in schools

First was all the recent discussion about parking fees in schools for teachers. Then Yesterday, education is became a major talking point in the news. Must say MOE really damn busy nowadays.

Various NMPs and MPs spoke on their hope for the future of education in Singapore in Parliament yesterday. It is not an easy issue, but an important one.

Perhaps our discussions and outcries about the grading system is also a sign of how Singapore has prospered as a nation. In our grandparents and parents’ era, grades and a good educational qualification was seen as a way to get a good and comfortable job. And to move up the societal ladder. Remember how our father and mother will say things like, “you don’t want to study hard now, is it you want to be a road sweeper when you grow up?”

While a good educational qualification is still important, we are now living in an affluent and modern society where there are other many other pathways and possibilities to earning a good living and getting “there”. What we have to do is to be open to these possibilities as well- I guess this is also what the government meant when they say we have to prepare our young for jobs that does not even exist yet. E.g. our parents would have never thought that it is possible for a blogger (nowadays preferred to be called an influencer) to earn a decent living too right?


So when we also say that we want lesser emphasis on grades, how many parents will dare to send their children to the Sport School for them to train in a sport with just the hope of making it on the world stage to sustain their dreams? And if they fail, then what?

Joseph Schooling was lucky to have parents who dared to dream with him. And while we celebrate his success, it is a fact that he is a rare success case. And probably it helps that he was training in an individual sport- Singaporeans love to watch soccer, but I don’t think we can even get 11 kids with the potential talent and their parents who are willing to send these kids to train in this sport for a future.


While MOE has tried to implement ways to make education more holistic and fun (or so they say), time is needed for the effects to be felt. And also a mindset change by parents, who need to believe that fun and play is pointless or useless!

MOE, and the rest of the government must work harder on trying to change parents’ mindsets- that is the key to have real changes in the education system. All parents are rightfully kiasu and want the best for their children. No matter how the system change, parents will find way for their kids to be Number 1, to be better than their peers, otherwise they also feel like they are failing their children. Everyone wants their child to be Joseph Schooling, to be Steve Jobs, to be Lee Hsien Loong. Parents are reluctant to slow down and tell their child that they have a 99.99% chance of NOT being that guy at the top. I mean, if everyone’s at the top, then who’s t the bottom?

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Those with the resources will always have a better chance of grooming their kids. Direct School Admissions? The parents can pay for top coaches for their child to be just that bit better at the sport. School of the Arts? Parents are paying for summer camps in theatre or music training to give their child the edge. So we are back to the same issue that we are discussing today. No easy answers here.

As long as mindset change doesn’t kick in, whatever the government says also no use really.
And then so we ask ourselves, hand to heart, as a parent, would you want to Kee Chiu and be the first to take on that mindset change? When your child brings home a sea of red marks, talk is cheap. We will always say, let others change first. Don’t make me the guinea pigs.

And so, we’re back to square one again.