(Courtesy of TODAYonline.com)
SINGAPORE has not succeeded in producing as many outstanding members of society as she could, and I believe that the main cause is not the limited resources and talent pool available here, but rather the education system.
Outstanding people do not just possess an extraordinary amount of money. They start an epoch-making change in the world. Examples include Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg, who created a company worth billions while in university.
Outstanding people have different mindsets. But our education system focuses on examination results and classifies students in a manner that does not do justice to the nation’s talent and potential.
Take for example the Primary School Leaving Examination. If one is good in four subjects – Mathematics, Science, Mother Tongue and English – one is placed in a good class. If not, he or she is labelled “Normal”.
But these four subjects are not enough to determine the value of any child, who may be talented, for example, in computer programming.
As a result, a child who is gifted in his or her own way, may grow up thinking that he or she would not amount to much just because the score of the four subjects on that result slip is too low. To be called “Normal” at a young age may hurt young ambitions.
Even those who are considered to be excelling in school are not encouraged to be extraordinary. Since a young, tender age, this mantra has been ingrained into their minds: Get good results, go to a good school, get a good job.
Individualism is not encouraged. An “ideal” child’s time and effort is spent on the academic subjects at the cost of further developing talent or interests.
The pressure a child receives in school may ultimately outweigh the passion he has for another skill. If he chooses to ignore the pressure and devote more time for this skill, his grades may slip, thus facing disapproval from the education system.
I believe our nation has much potential and we have the infrastructure and resources to develop it. All we need is a little reshaping. For example, banding and streaming could be reduced, while more subjects that would hone a student’s skills can be introduced.
If there is no stigma attached to students who are different, I believe that our economy can prosper, our country’s development will reach greater heights, and we will produce extraordinary people who will elevate Singapore’s status.