Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Singapore students now HENG after Mr HENG’s “Reforms”?

Since Heng Swee Keat took over the helm of the Education Ministry last year, he has made many changes to our local education scene, let me share with you those I recall:

a) Awarding students with cash for good conduct

b) No more banding of Secondary Schools

c) Scrapping away the Gold, Silver and Bronze medal for SYF competitions and replacing them with very general awards

And the next area that Mr Heng’s Ministry may be looking at is to examine whether PSLE can be scrapped or replaced with some other ways to assess the academic performance of primary school students.

After looking at the aforementioned changes Mr Heng has made, I believe the heart of what Mr Heng has done is to reduce the kind of pressure in academic and co-curricular areas that students face. At the same time, Mr Heng wants Singapore to produce good people hence the award for good conduct.

However, I believe after taking away all those comparative competitive benchmarks, I think our students may still face stress or even more stress afterall. Why is this so? Well it is due to the fact that fundamentally, the attitudes of Singaporean parents will not change that fast. When those competitive benchmarks are no longer used by schools, Singapore parents may resort to inventing their own benchmarks so as to compare their children with the others.

For example, if there is no more SYF medal-banding, parents may even coerce their children to excel and clinch awards in their private musical lessons to satisfy (the parents’) needs to show the rest of Singapore that their children are Mozarts?

Or visualize a situation whereby top students shoot videos of themselves clinching their certificates filled with As and upload them to Youtube for the whole world and not just Singapore to see?

In a nutshell, the attitudes of Kiasu Singapore parents are as hard to change as changing the littering habits of Singaporeans, we may see more covert stress among students and their parents and that may be even more insidioius!  

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