Tuesday, September 27, 2011

PSLE : The Great Sieving Machine....

For parents with children that are 12 year old this must be a period of anxiety as the PSLE starts this week.

When I took the PLSE many years ago, students only had pass/fail results. There was no score. The better students were broadly identified as belonging to the top 8% - I was not one of them and it didn't really matter. Many of the students in the top 8% chose to go to average secondary schools so you get a mix of good and bad students in the same secondary school - you sometimes have both good and not so good students in the same class. Today we differentiate primary school right down to the fine resolution of 1 in 300 points. You pass by a tuition center these days and you will notice they put up a list of top students - score of 280 for the top student...anything below 250 and you won't get on anybody's list. Competition starts young and differentiation starts young. Using their PSLE and reference entrance score from past years students usually choose the best ranked secondary school possible with their score. In the secondary school the students will again be sorted .with the best students going to the best class and so on. By the time the student walks into his first class in secondary school - every thing is sorted out based on PLSE scores. You have the best class in the best school and the bottom class in the worst secondary school. Other than differentiation using PSLE scores, we have NUS High which picks out gifted students so they can get out of the regular system and be educated in NUS High for direct entry into NUS.

What we have done is intensify the competition between people at an early age and accentuate the difference in outcomes for these people - the NUS High gives the best training and highest quality of education to those who make it there and neighborhood schools typically get the average teachers teaching unmotivated students who discourage each other from doing well.

Our current president, Dr. Tony Tan, completel his primary school education 60 years ago chose to go to a lesser known less prestigious secondary school called St Patrick's Secondary School rather than Raffles Institution like the rest of the presidential candidates. I thought that was a selling point he could have used in his campaign because he would have mixed, mingled and made friends with children who later move on to various strata of our society. We did not have so much differentiation of children at a young age and in a typical secondary school you would find a good mix of students. Today's system is completely different.

Our education system has turned into the great sieve machine and it sorts students obsessively. Once every few years we get 12 year old children leaving the exam hall crying because the maths paper is so difficult they couldn't do many of the difficult questions[Link] - if you pick up a PSLE maths paper, I think many of you will be baffled by the some of the questions. All this to try to differentiate between students so some will get A* and others just A.

We should really roll back to the basics and ask ourselves what is the purpose of an education system? Is the main purpose just to sort students based on exam scores? What happened to the joys of learning? What happens to childhood and friendship? Is it healthy to put students through such intense competition at such a young age?  What does such a system achieve at the end of the day?

Strangely, after putting our own children through such a tough education system, the govt is very happy to have foreigners from England, Australia and Phillipines take up some our best jobs. It looks like the tough education system does not give you too much of an edge when you join the workforce.  Based on what was reported in WikiLeaks, the govt does not even encourage all Singaporeans to reach their full academic potential if they are able to get degrees. So what does all this energy and time spent on doing well for exams achieve for our society as a whole? For individuals it is very clear, you try to beat the others to get into better schools and later on scholarships that lead to opportunities in govt and SAF. But collectively will our society do better with such a system when it comes to differentiating oiurselves from economic competitors and giving our people a better quality of life?

Many Singaporeans being in this type of system for so long can't even imagine that there other forms of education system that work well. If I suggest we go back to the system of my time when students are just award a pass grade instead when they clear their PSLE exams, I'm sure many parents will say that system is no good because it doesn't help their children get ahead of others and secure the best secondary schools and so on. Singaporeans have come to believe competition is inevitable and intense competition is unavoidable.

To understand the alternatives, we have to look at systems that work well and are at the other end of the spectrum.

"The basic compulsory educational system in Finland is the nine-year comprehensive school (Finnish peruskoulu, Swedish grundskola, "basic school"), for which school attendance is mandatory (homeschooling is allowed, but rare). There are no "gifted" programs, and the more able children are expected to help those who are slower to catch on."  - Wikipedia, Finland's Education System[Link]

The number one education system in the world is the Finnish education system - an egalitarian system in which tremendous effort to taken to provide high quality pre-school to everyone. Contrast that with Singapore's approach where pre-school is not compulsory and poor students skip pre-school while richer parents send their children for pre-school that cost $20K per annum. Our govt's idea of levelling the playing field is to give some poor students 1 month of pre-school that cost their parents $10 (read Stark contrast between pre-school.education of the rich and the poor...). Richer Singaporeans would even buy property next to a prestigious primary school known for training students to get good results so their children have better odds of getting into these schools.

"The Fins adamantly oppose any form of divisions or ranking, and 'advanced' or 'elite' divisions are major taboos. Separation into different classes is also not practiced in the system. Heidi, a 28 year-old employee at the University of Helsinki, recalls that she was good at math in primary and middle school, but the teacher never praised her work in front of anyone else, only stealthily handing her more advanced texts to read on her own." - Secrets to Finland's World Topping Education System

In Singapore's elitist system where the best resources are allocated to the best exam-scoring students who later on secure the precious prestigious overseas scholarships and later on the best jobs and opportunities in the SAF and civil service. This system elevate the importance of exams over learning, amplify the inequality in our society and emphasizes competition over co-operation.

The strength of a society is build on the arms of the strong pulling up the weak so that no one is left behind. Children at 12 should have a childhood spending time making friends, cultivating the love of learning, learning to help one another and building  core values....much of these important developments fall into the background when young children believe that they are better than someone else because he scored 10 marks higher for the PSLE. All the energy we spend to sort our students then later allocating disproportionate resources to a small number identified as the elite weakens what can really make us competitive - a cohesive workforce able to work closely as a team and not individuals perpetually trying to get ahead by breaking away from others. The one reason the MOE gives for all this sorting and sieving is they want to best develop each student based on their ability. If you believe that you have to believe that neighborhood schools like Bedok Green Secondary have better teachers than ACS(I) or Raffles Institution because they have weaker students that need better teachers to guide. The Finnish approach is to put everyone in the same school and teach the material at a pace that everyone can learn and give additional attention to those who are slower. If we want a cohesive society, we have to start with the young and teach them that to work to help each rather than against each other.


Anonymous said...

I am an average school teacher in an average secondary school.

What I can tell you is this:

Most of the the 'average' school teachers in average secondary schools are far better teachers than many of the teachers in the so-called top schools.


The reason is simple. In the 'average' school, your students are less motivated and also less fast in picking up new information. As such, the teacher must put in greater skill in explaining and teaching new concepts. The teacher has to be precise and very skilful in handholding the student.

In your top school, the students are very smart. In fact, it is a case of the tail wagging the dog. The school results are only good because they have the best students, and not because they have the best academic program or resources.

I have encountered and observed teachers from such good schools when they come to teach in average schools.
Many of these teachers can't teach well. Too many of them are too used to sloppy explanation and touch-and-go approach. They skim only the surface of the topic.

They usually get away with such weak teaching because their students, being smart, are able to read up on their own or fill in the missing parts on their own. Or they are rich enough to get private tutors to do the teaching for them.

Ironical, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Our leader is a top student. He will not understand and agree. Never talk to those insects living in the summer about ice, they will never understand.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lucky,

The EPMS system that was introduced in schools placed greater emphasis on results. So principals grind teachers and students alike for results as results meant money. Better results meant the principal gets more performance bonus. Rememeber growth at all cost? GDP at all cost?

Results at all cost. It's all about money now in schools.

The recent drive towards values education is just a new tune to an old song. Just look at the CME curriculum, it's hasn't changed and students don't give two hoots about values.

Anonymous said...

let the system run its due course. avant garde thinkers are more often shot then not and society is often poorly equipped to accept such forward thinking. the nature of local politics combined with base human nature will ensure that the majority turn against you though you write common sense.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon: 27/9/11 06:54
"school teacher"

I facilitate adult education and its not easy to transfer learning to adults who have little motivation to learn or even to turn up for class!

Being a polytechnic lecturer or in the universities, the student profile has already been filtered.
So rattling off the slides is an easy job.

The acid test is when transfer of knowledge and understanding has taken place. This can be achieved only through in depth preparation and responding to learners on the spot, engaging them and guiding their thinking towards the end in mind.

The Finnish education system is very unique.
It actually respects an indivdual's learning as very personal and the teacher has a great responsibility to ensure attention is given to all the kids.

This is very time intensive and thus they are very well paid. Its truly a calling. They are also very well trained and go through advance techniques in understaning human behaviours and development.

It will never be accepted here.
Our society faces huge obstacles.

The population is not homogenous
There is continous flux
The only common factor is a low birth rate!

Anonymous said...

This system will be maintained so to lock in most the best brains into Government jobs and hence PAP thinking.

Anonymous said...

Abraham Lincoln didnt even finish his primary school yet he became the most influence US President of all times. Steve Job, Bill Gates are all uni drop out......What can we say to our kids cos the govt wants us (brainwash) to "believe" that to be the BEST (VERY BEST), you need to be the top grade in school all the way. No compromise......^0^

Anonymous said...

Do u know that even if your kid beats some ang moh FT kid in every subject (eng, maths, science) ... the FT can still get a higher PSLE score if your kid isn't exceptional in mother tongue?

Foreigners can opt to take only 3 subjects and MOE wants to be "fair" to them ...

Veritas said...

PSLE is a hydra of racism and division. There are reasons why PAP insist on doing things this way.

PAPs are not chinese but bunch of bastard peranakan. When lessons are conducted in English, it puts all the other race in disadvantage, at least in the young age. Peranakan wins. Next, such system spurs parent to forgo their mother tongue convert their children into bananas so that they can perform better in schools.

Non English language speakers especially boys who are late developer are screwed.

Veritas said...

PSLE serves to also to create division at the very young age. Implicitly, children are taught to compete with one another, instead of fostering a coperative culture.

This translate into a politiking and backbiting culture in the working world.

Even if our students work very hard and have all pre-requisite for success, PAP are still going to screw them.

Example, medical schools intake are deliberately keep low to prevent our good students from becoming a doctor.

Meanwhile, PAP uses all excuses to import a lot foreign doctors.

Our education system is mould so that people work very hard, and many will not be compensated, in order to spurs as to work harder. We have a slavery system.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Lucky,

Fully agreed with your article. I have 2 school going kids and we are working our butt out to keep afloat.

We only send our kids for MT enrichment and yet we spent much our spare time studying just to ensure we can catch up.

We lament the lost of our kids childhood.

And yet, we are aware that there is an alternative track at MOE to provide foreigners priority to our elite secondary school with bridging classes and scholarship.

Another point, I understand that the primary school gifted kids are required to spend substantial time on social study, which study LKY 's his story , I believe its to brainwash them ?!

Last but not list, we are not xenophobia but local should not be taken for granted for all the sacrifices and hard work. Foreigners should not be over glorified too !

Alex the Peasant Boy said...

Yep, Singapore's education system isnt about learning but rather it's a system that enables the government to see who's the best in remembering things!

I dont even remember much from school, except I hated it & whatever I learnt, I couldnt quite apply in the real life. Just look around your HDB, I am sure many of the residents have studied more then 10 years & yet they allow their dogs to shit in the middle of the walkway, throw Coke cans all over & even hang their mops outside their windows. KNN, didnt they learn how to be a good human being/citizen or most of them are smoking in the toilets?

So what if you are some AAAAAAA student & so what if you are some SAF scholar? They will never survive in the real world!

Khamis Koh said...

The irony here is that Sporeans after paying the price of going through a tough demanding system will then lose out to foreigners who do have to go through the sacrifices of the locals.

The mystery here is not the apparent injustice of the system but the passivity of the average Sporean and his unwillingness to bring about changes which will benefit him.

Khamis Koh said...

The irony here is that Sporeans after paying the price of going through a tough and demanding system will then lose out to foreigners who do NOT make similar sacrifices of local Sporeans.

The mystery here is not the apparent injustice of the system but the passivity of the average Sporean and his unwillingness to bring about changes which will benefit him.

Anonymous said...

LOL, after your reading this post, I could help but linked it to a complaint from a forum writer who ran a recent race here. He felt short-changed when the organizer failed to give him his "certificate" at the end of line. This is clearly a reflection of what you've just highlighted here. STudents study to ace exams and get degrees. Runners run to be 'certified' they are best/good runners. Alas, they have totally miss the joy of the process. Merely concerning themselves with the outcome. A mean to an end - no more, no less.

Anonymous said...

The real world also seeks "certification" if you dont have a degree, you ain't comming in!

Thats where the filter starts.

So what do you expect the slaves to do?.. get that damn cert lah!
Nevermind how I got it!

No cert?
No job!

Have cert?
Have competition!

Have competition?
Nah! the lowest pay wins!

Anonymous said...

people like LKY, GKS and many of his peers did well under the education system of their times. But having benefited, they try to burn the bridge by introducing tweaking, tempering with the working so that the edu system become a ground of destructive competition. By inventing the top 8% which was set up to encourage them to enter the chinese medium schools to learn bilingualism, they try to reroute students from ordinary background away from top character building schools like RI and SJI reserving them for the their own elite kind, all in the name of preserving the chinese medium schools. The fact they go all out to misrepresent foreigners are talented so that they qualify to work and play here w/o the sacrifice sgrean students got to put in to prove themselves speak of their hyprocrisy. I agree with Veritas, they are straits peranakan and too divorced from the mainstream.

Anonymous said...

Our education system will destroy itself one day.

Anonymous said...

The external pressure can only do so much if u refused to be subjected to the same norm.

In my family, my two nephews and my only son did not attend tuition class till A level.

I seldom (not often) looked over the shoulder of my son for his school work. But, I did tell him the resources and help available.

I told him that when he felt he would need additional help; just tell me.

6 months before his A level exam, he told me he needed help in math and physics. (Because he spent too much time having fun and in a new sport javelin. He got the name of a good tutor. I agreed.

The rest is history. Now he is a graduate happily working in a finance industry.

Anonymous said...

A dull mind cannot be enlighten by any others.
No teacher is better than a brilliant student.
Talents are born and breed but not taught or cultivated.

Anonymous said...

When I took the PLSE many years ago, students only had pass/fail results. There was no score. The better students were broadly identified as belonging to the top 8% - I was not one of them and

.... it didn't really matter.

If the following assumptions were wrong, people who could have gone on to better schools (and lives) may have ended up completely different.

1) that there were no score (an unusual assumption when the papers were fully marked.)
2) that the better students were automatically posted where they should (how do you know?)
3) that it is alright and fair for top students were posted to the neighbourhood schools without their knowledge and approval (ie against their will and ability)
4) that there were no experiments or "pilot schemes" in those non transparent years

What actually happened between 1965 and 1975?

Veritas said...

Talents are born and breed but not taught or cultivated.
What if Newton or einstein is born in the middle of Africa?

Talents stands on the shoulders of giants. Nobody is there by himself.

Anonymous said...

His fear of losing his empire makes him someone who hate gifted people so he will try all means to destroy people who are gifted, including making the education so shitty. How many gifted people still exist in small singapore?

Anonymous said...

//"What if Newton or einstein is born in the middle of Africa?

Talents stands on the shoulders of giants. Nobody is there by himself.

27/9/11 15:25"//

Newton and Einstein shall be Newton and Einstein anywhere and anytime where they were.
Who or what giant did the Two of them stood on??
They made histories of themselves, they were not made-up characters in story books.

Anonymous said...

The system has turned for bad to worse with the introduction of "through train". This means PSLE is the single most important exam in a person's life. So the late bloomers, esp the boys are heavily penalised under the new system. In the past, when one doesn't do well in the PSLE, one can still try to do well at the O levels to go to a decent Junior College. Now the most important streaming happens at 12 years old. Such system only benefit the elites, because the elites are the ones who send their children to enrichment classes since their child ia 1 year old which gives them an advantage. Trust me, one cannot tell if a person is truly talented at 12. Most are spoon-fed by enrichment classes. It's sad that streaming is getting younger and younger, and therefore less accurate.

Veritas said...

Re 27/9/11 16:27
I really feel I am wasting my time on you.

The work of Newton is possible because of works by Galileo and Kepler who in turns got their knowledge from ancient Greek.

Einstein works is not possible without Newton.

Every giant stand on the shoulders of predecessor.

Sometimes, reactionary, tyrannical or backward society can kill genius. So there is no great scholar from SG since LKY. There is no genius out from africa until quite recently.

Anonymous said...

another reason why we are importing our talents from dangerous places

Anonymous said...

Students need private tutoring not because our education system is stressful.

Students need tuition because of two main reasons

1) Large class sizes.

The average class size in primary school is 1 teacher to 40 students. It is about 1 teacher to 35 students in secondary school. Please do not be fooled by the average teacher:student ratio statistics.

Most teachers, when they step into their classroom, have to teach 35-40 students at a time. And most teachers have on average, 4-5 of such classes.

So, each teacher has to teach a total of 130-150 students. 1 teacher to 150 students per semester.

Do the maths yourself. How much attention can a teacher give to your child, if the subject teacher has 130 students under her care?

2) Teaching is not the core duty of teachers.

Students need private tuition because teachers have been informally instructed that teaching is not their core duty.

On top of teaching 130 students a week, teachers have to devote the vast majority of their time in school to handle CCA, workshop, school projects, committees, meetings and any project that is not related to their teaching.

Teachers are expected to mark your children's homework at home after working hours. They are also expected to do most of their lesson preparation at home, instead of in school.

Teachers who wish to focus on their classroom teaching risk two things:
(a) being ridiculed by fellow staff for behaving like a tutor-wannabe

(b) formally penalized at work by being given a 'D' grade work performance (no performance bonus and no rank promotion for 3 consecutive years)

Teachers are expected to 'exceed expectations' by doing 1001 things on top and over and above 'mere classroom' teaching, which is considered as basic expectation.

Of course, the school will not tell this to parents. MOE also formally forbids teachers from telling parents this hard truth about teaching.

Usually, MOE prefers to ignore the hard truth that most students need tuition. Instead, MOE prefers to claim the credit done by private tutors by insisting that their time-wasting education strategies are the key to Singapore's good education system.

If you disbelieve me, feel free to bring up my points and have a frank talk with your child's teacher during Parents-Teachers meeting. Ask your child's teachers!!

Anonymous said...

very well written Lucky. Always enjoy your posting to keep up to date news from singapore. true why we put our children through so much stress but the best jobs go to the foreigners..sigh

Anonymous said...


Read the lyrics.

Teachers are made to treat children to submit to authority. Implicit pressure in schools are common among teachers and students?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Anon 18:18 spoke the truth.

The way they rank teachers in politically ugly in Singapore.

The PESA ranking is also bullocks as most schools are not teaching physics or chemistry at sec 3 as they have a junior high and senior high school system. We start teaching the kids the sciences early than age 15. That's why they do well at rankings. The 15 year olds in other countries would be studying physical science instead like astronomy and all.

So, don't think we are good in math and science in rankings. If are churning examplary education models, why are we not producing Nobel prize winners like Denmarks' 5 million population?

If our Math and Science are that good, how come we don't have a made in Singapore product and why are we inviiting speakers from countries whose math and science are not that stellar to give talks in our schools?

What teach less learn more? It's the tuition industry that is driving the results.

And MOE claims it is its system instead.

Anonymous said...

I think most people don't quite get this notion about genious.

A genious is a person who has escaped the clutchings and conditionings, machinations, etc. of his society. He is born and went through the system but knows what is being done to him.

From time to time, we get that person popping out, completely unscatched through the system.

Anonymous said...

It's not a hidden secret that many teachers in the current system of MOE are exploiting the work-life balance, mental health and welfare of teachers.

It's an open secret many teachers undergo depression because of immense pressure from schools and ranking.

MOE has still not gotten it right. Their policies are out of touch with the ground level of their teachers.

A sign of the larger ailment of a government whose policies are out of touch with the people too...

Anonymous said...

"Teach less" means teachers teach the student to get 50% or fail and then they "learn more" at home from tired and stressed parents who finally realized that they have to spend money to make their kids catch up.

in the end you end up footing 1000 buck in tuition fees a month , those whondo not have the money are condemned...so there is no more upward mobility amongst the poor even if their kids were smart and hard working.

Just sign up for www.time4learning.com to parallel our schools under teaching. Cost 20 USD per month. Better than tuition from more of the same MOE mould. Makes learning fun and I trust ang mo standard of teaching on this website. And everything is taught properly compared to the half past six MOE system.

Anonymous said...

The purpose of education in Singapore is to help keep PAP in power and to support PAP's elitist ideology.

Singapore's education system has nothing to do with giving your child a proper education.

Remember "Teach Less, Learn More"?

So what was the outcome of that policy?
Was it successful?

First Tharman introduces a new doctrine in Singapore education.
Then after 2 years, Tharman is transferred out of Eduction Ministry.

Then Teo Chee Hean warms the Education Ministry seat for 2 years.

Then Heng Swee Keat starts selling a new "koyok" called values.

And the cycle of bullshit continues.

Why does 60% of daft Singaporeans still continue to support this abuse of our Singapore children I'll never understand.

Anonymous said...

You got it all wrong. St Patrick's Secondary School is named after his son, Patrick Tan Boon Ooi, the Keng Saint (much more powerful than the garden variety Keng King in your platoon).

Ferup said...

I pay taxes
Income, road, petrol, maid levies
and school fees.

There is no other alternative but to send my kids to school here.
So I am stuck.

Sure, the option to uproot and move to finland, aussie land is always there. But is it realistic?

Until we have an opposition or Minister that has the political will, the far sightedness ( because education systems require more than 15 years to see results)
This is what we got.

We can rant all we want, PSLE will still be there, 40:1 ratios will still remain.

(Even if I had voted Tan Jee Say, Tan Cheng Bock or Sylvia Tan..)

Anonymous said...

Tony Tan went to SJI in secondary school, which might have been a less egalitarian choice than RI in those days.

Anonymous said...

"We can rant all we want, PSLE will still be there, 40:1 ratios will still remain."

This is a typical sign of a Singaporean syndrome. It's almost a Singaporean complex.

The sheer apathy is pathological. If you don't like the system, change it with your vote, stupid. Speak up and tell them that it's not working.

That's life.

Anonymous said...

I am a single issue voter.

As long as the 40:1 ratio in classrooms remain, I will vote Opposition.

And I will work hard to convert any relative I can find to vote Opposition.

Over the years, I've converted my 2 siblings, parents, wife, and 1 uncle to become die hard Opposition voters.
All were former PAP voters.

So I now have a bloc of 7 votes for the Opposition.

Since 6 of these Opposition votes came from former PAP voters, the actual effect is a swing vote of 14.

+7 for the Opposition
-7 for the PAP.

Join me and let's multiply the effect in GE 2016.

Anonymous said...

The root cause of the unhappiness in the education system is ranking. We rank just about everybody - teachers and students and even those in charge.

No wonder everybody is stressed. And no wonder there's so much theatre ('wayang') in the education system. Nothing is at stake except the survival of the fittest.

The real value of education is lost. What a tragedy that we can never hope to produce a Nobel prize winner.

Anonymous said...

"If we want a cohesive society, we have to start with the young and teach them that to work to help each rather than against each other. - Lucky Tan"

How can teachers teach students to work in teams when teachers themselves work against each other?

The EPMS ranking system is the singlemost reason for the overall low morale for teachers today. It is also the same reason that has exponentially increased teachers' non-teaching workload.

Teachers are ranked and compared against each other throughout the year. When one teacher gets into big trouble, most of the other teachers secretly rejoice, because the poor teacher will be taking the poor 'D' grade for the year.

That is so much backstabbing and politics in the staff room because schools rank teachers, and pressure teachers to do more by comparing them against others.

When teachers politick in the staffroom, backstab each other, are too engrossed in doing things besides teaching, how do you think your child will fare under such teachers - be it for studies or moral education?

And Lucky Tan still wants teachers to teach students how to work together and not against each other. LOL!

Anonymous said...

... And the amount of time, resources and money spent on ranking teachers and schools is clearly unbelievable - all of which could have been better spent on the real needs of education.

What a pity. All the bs and the motherhood statements we have to put up with.

Anonymous said...

I believe Tony Tan is from SJI.

Anonymous said...

The answer is simple!
The Holy Cow sent the sick to JB.
Next he sent the old and useless to JB.
Then he sent the poor to JB.

Make him Education and he can send your children to JB!

Endorsed by Lucky cannot be wrong!

Vote PAP!
Lucky say one!

Anonymous said...

I am an ex-teacher. I totally agree with the current system. The fact is without such a system, we would be wasting the country's resources. Do u know that lots of kids out there care the least about education. Especially from a certain community. I have personally handled such kids on a day to day basis for years. To put these kids with other kids would slow the better kids who r responsible n serious learners. It is seriously a waste of taxpayers money to keep such students in schools for 10 years. The worst part is the damage they do to the teachers who teach them. Their lack of respect for teachers is a shame. I consider these kids as scums n parasites. They should be separated from the rest at all costs to be fair to parents who bother to bring up their kids in a responsible manner.

Anonymous said...


I am a parent of two schooling kids. They are ordinary kids and as parents i sometimes feel stressed out by the education system.

Despite all these, I have nothing against our education system. Though, I have the means and qualification to immigrate if i want to but decided not to because i want my children to go through the rigourous rite and rat race of our education system. I want them to serve NS and contribute back to Singapore when they grow up.

Nevermind the competition from foreigners as nobody own us a living. I have nothing against foreigners. They lower the cost of doing business in Singapore and prevent us from going extinct. The FT in my children classess also spur local students to study harder and opportunity for locals to interact with foreigners.

The hard truth is that we dont have a choice. Singapore has to be extraordinary inorder to survive and leap ahead in this highly globalised world. No doubt, our education is stressful but it's for the overall good of Singapore and also for the child's well being to be able to survive, excel and compete globally in this harsh globalised world.

Our education system has no time to wait for a slow kid. Sorry, if the kids cannot catch up so be it and they have to fend for themselves when they are out to society. Our education system has to move fast with the rising tides of global competition.

I reckon Singapore education system is one of the best in the world. If we were to take on the finland model, Singaporeans would not have done so well economically.

Anonymous said...

Singapore has to be extraordinary inorder to survive and leap ahead in this highly globalised world.

I believe you have been brainwash to the point of thinking yourself as slave.

Competition is a euphemism for slavery to make workers work hard.

The truth is we do not need to compete. We do not need to be extraordinary and yet we can live a happy live.

I can show you few example if you want.

Anonymous said...

Having said all that need to be said, principals and teachers are paid highly to enjoy holidays after all.

Very soon, they are going to enjoy another holiday, i.e. the coming Children day holiday, thus enjoying a long weekend.

This holiday is just tip of the iceberg as they are paid highly to enjoy even more holidays than anyone can imagine.

To summarize, principals and teachers are paid highly to enjoy holidays. They enjoy
1 week of March holidays,
4 weeks of June holidays,
1 week of September holidays,
6 to 8 weeks of Nov-Dec holidays,
1 youth holiday,
1 extra national holiday,
1 teacher holiday,
1 children holiday,
2 election holidays for year 2011,
numerous less than half day work to celebrate the numerous holidays,

Wow! principals and teachers are having relax, easy and carefree life as they are paid highly with high salary and high bonus to enjoy life.

Anonymous said...

" If you believe that you have to believe that neighborhood schools like Bedok Green Secondary have better teachers than ACS(I) or Raffles Institution because they have weaker students that need better teachers to guide." - Lucky Tan

The funny part about your sarcasm, is that this statement is true.

Your teachers at RI and ACS(I) never had to handle dysfunctional kids, slow learners and students who have to do most of their real learning in schools instead of at private tuition.

Have you ever wondered if RI and Bedok Green switched students for 1 year, what would happen to the RI's ranking? Would it still be as good as before? If no, then perhaps the reputation of RI is based not on its resources or the quality of its teaching staff, but rather primarily on the quality of the students it can attract based on its past track record.

I have seen teachers from both independent schools and neighbourhood schools. And while both schools have good teachers, I can safetly attest that on average, teachers in neighbhourhood schools tend to much more conscientious and developed as teachers, because they really have to teach well in order for their very weak students to pass their exams.

Anonymous said...

It's just commonsense that better(quality) goods are sold to those who can afford. The inferior ones are for the poor.
In our elitist, meritocratic and nepotic society, the poor, weak and less intelligent are condemn in many ways.

Anonymous said...

What if one day, parents finally find out the fundamental truths of our education system?

That their children need private tuition because the school teachers are too overloaded, too distracted with other school duties to teach?

That it is private tuition, and not 'progressive' teaching strategies that deliver the good exam results?

That schools openly discourage and penalizes full-time teachers who focus primarily on teaching?

Gulraiz23 said...

Pakistan Education Says:

It’s a very informative and useful article. This article is very affective to increase knowledge of students. I am very thankful to you for this information.

Anonymous said...

"Our education system has no time to wait for a slow kid. Sorry, if the kids cannot catch up so be it and they have to fend for themselves when they are out to society."

I thought the Prime Minister ever said that "no one should be left behind"?

What sort of society have we created? Is this a forward-thinking, creative and truly global society? Are we content to run like the rest or be bold and different and lead the pack?

The only way a system can be changed is if people learn to speak up, take a stand and believe that change can happen. Singaporeans have become too apathetic and selfish for far too long, no thanks to a political system that has become too ingrained in its own thinking.

I really hate it when education becomes politicised. This is the disease of the modern world.

Anonymous said...

You really hit the nail on the head. I've realized that Singaporeans don't really help and/or support each other. Its always this attitude of I am better than you and competing against each even against common enemies. After reading your article I realized that this starts in school where the competitive spirit is encouraged. early learning should focus on character building and fostering a good human spirit. I'm not sure this will change in the near future.

Anonymous said...

My parents would have never put me into a Singapore school. It's far too rigid, discriminatory and is completely unbalanced in terms of subject choices. The Singapore education system is designed to spit out people who can't think outside the box. Sad really.

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Adele Ang said...

I agree with What you say. Now I just have to make sure as a parent I do not give my son unnecessary pressure. I do not want him to be a SAF scholar or work for the govt. He is too free spirited for that. He is a passionate and loving boy who is beginning to hate learning due to heavy study content in school. This makes me v sad. I just want him to develop his strengths n not feel so inadequate in his studies. His poor academic inclinations r definitely affecting the family dynamics negatively.

Darren said...

I think the primary and secondary education system will be the only reason that i will not vote for PAP this time round. They have fixed quite a few issues to my satisfaction but MOE is the last bastion that they have done nothing about. I think this is because the whole PAP system relies on this elite system to feed its leadership engine. All those who fall on the wayside are just too bad. My son is one such person. He is smart in all ways except the ridiculous primary school math. And because of that, i will not let him suffer the 5 years secondary school system. Although i can scarcely afford it, i am applying to St Joseph International. This is totally dreadful!!

Education news said...

Great ARticle that is realy helpful for me

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