Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Education system in Singapore

Read this article by Ng E-Jay.

My comments
I prefer an education system that teaches our young to be literate, numerate, know how to communicate, interact and have values. They should not be required to compete for top positions in class - which teaches them to be selfish.


Anonymous said...

Well side. We should aim to educate and not certificate. While there is nothing wrong with working hard and smart to be the best, we should reconise that education is not a zero-sum game. The stakeholders in Education should really not encourage a me vs you mentality.

Anonymous said...

There is something very obviously wrong with our education system.
- Mr "Teach Less, Learn More" a few years ago, confused and glossed over an already bad situation. Good career move though. Confusion hides lack of progress.

Think about it.

45 years after independence, and we still can't seem to teach our kids Mandarin.

I assess the success of our Mandarin education by how adults Singaporeans are able to effectively use Mandarin in business and everyday usage. NOT by exams.

My humble conclusion:
a) even by exam results, Mandarin education is a failure
b) Adult Singaporeans' Mandarin ability .... an even worse failure

Is the government serious about Mandarin or any other Mother Tongue education?
- No, it's not serious
- Take a look at how quickly our R&D strategy took off after a few years of concerted effort (and billions of dollars) by Philip Yeo.

- We spent hundreds of millions in salaries to recruit these world class "whales" or talents to tutor our "guppies" or PhDs in R&D. I don't even want to think about the cost of the expensive R&D equipment required by these 'whales" to conduct their R&D.

- Are we doing anything equivalent (in effort, time and money) to recruit world class education talents to do the same for our Mandarin and other Mother Tongue?
- NO!
- Instead, Singapore parents are subsidising a lousy Mother Tongue education system with private tuition. And they have been doing this for the last 45 years.

The issue is NOT "PSLE mother tongue weightage" as today's Straits Times (12 May) front page headlines seems to suggest.

The issue is a LOUSY mother tongue education system from Primary one onwards.

If you have a good education system, why do you even need to bother about weightage in the first place?

- Are we competent and capable of producing operationally ready Mandarin speakers?

- You are either competent in Mandarin or you are not competent.
- You are either pregnant or you are not.
- You can't be just a little bit pregnant

- I'm not a scholar.
- I don't have a million dollar salary.
- I'm just a parent with a splitting headache asking why our local high priced talents are unable to solve a simple problem.
- And why I have to pay private tuition fees on top of my children's school fees so that he can pass his Mandarin exams

michael said...

Values should include 'filial piety'. Such a great value or good virtue is fast deteriorating in our society. Without it, there is nothing to boost about even though Singapore has moved up from 'Third World Country to First World Country' as proclaimed.

Anonymous said...

REX comments as follows,

So long as the government believes in a system which discourages freedom of speech, we will forever be producing "automatons" as Ng Ee jay said. There is no reason to suppress free speech (sometimes even re-labelled in negative terms like "confrontation") as long as it is not provoking inter racial harmony. I feel that given the strong achievements of the Government in the past, they should have no fear of contrary opinions and should be ready to admit mistakes. This can only do more good than harm to them.

In fact, it was surprising that PM himself reacted so quickly to the petition of 2000 signatures from the pro Chinese lobby. (The minibond stuff was not even worth his attention). I think it was a wise move, I LIKE. I am also appreciative of Ng Eng Hen's apology, whatever political motives there are aside.

Chinese is really so easy to pass nowadays, the standards are already so low with multiple choice questions everywhere. Writing essay - it is already downgraded to jus 20% of total. So all the student has to do to pass is to score on the multiple choice and comprehension passage, just study, sure pass.

In my opinion, those who still fail ought to pull up their socks instead of grumbling at the system.

One more suggestion, for the Ministry to improve chinese standards. In my time, we had a module called TRANSLATION (ch to eng and vice versa) in our 2nd language classes. I think the Ministry should introdcue this back into the syllabus. Translation skills are highly marketable in my opinion. Besides it gives the students sense of confidence if they are able to translate Eng to Ch. and vice versa, in their working life.

To carry this further, it may even be possible to replace Composition with the module on Translation. I think it is easier than Compo, and it is much be more useful, practical, and fun to do, even the diehard english-only lobby might accept it.


Anonymous said...

My kids asked me why they have to learn Chinese. I told them that because they are my children.

Anonymous said...

Like Rex said, the standard of Chinese is already very low. My son told me that for every 3 words, he needs to check digital dictinary to write the essay at JC A level Chinese and he got a B. As I taught him personally, I know the standard of his Chinese and I was expecting an E or lower!

My younger son scored the highest in Chinese in his class test recently above the China student. The China student volunteered to check the papers for the teacher and manage to shave 10% off my son's mark making himself first and my son, second. So the exam system has produced all sorts of characters, the negative type!

Anonymous said...

Our top leader has a very Marchiavellian style.. it filters down into our system of kill or be killed.. it is a belief and policy that has benefitted the top rungs of industry.

If you think for one moment that warren buffet is a mild mannered person and yielding.. think again.

If you think Richard Branson is some fun ,loving and chin-chye person think again...

Kill, stomp and plunder.. that is the only way to get what you want.. you can always hire a image manager to portray you otherwise later.

Anonymous said...

REX comments as follows,

Let me share with you another tip on learning chinese.

When my kids were young, i forsaw the problem of their resistance to chinese handwriting. But technology had come to the rescue. Five years ago i bought a PC pen-tablet with chinese software and voice output for $200. The system is very user friendly and you use the "pen" to write the strokes on the tablet, it simulates real brush stroke, so accurately that you wouldnt believe you can write so artistically. It also reads out the word, and the entire phrase in a somewhat robotic voice (male voice unfortunately). So even if your chinese is terrible, you use the tablet, you seem to be writing fantastic beautiful characters. It creates Family bonding opportunity as well!

People need to be motivated, and enjoy what they do!!. Not for exams. Not for business. Just for fun. That is the way to learn. In fact retirees would do well to get a set and play with it and brush up their memory of chinese words!!

In fact two years ago I bought yet another set for $250 this time with wireless pen since the kids were fighting over control of the pen-tablet. The children love it, it is so fun to be able to write in huge colourful fonts on the PC, like a professional..

Education should be fun. Money needs to be spent to foster the fun methods. Unfortunately the above simple tip above had not been realised by Singapore Government educators to this date.

PS>> The second fun way to learn is through plain and simple TV. I noticed that the Mediacorp had some good mandarin kid programs in the past, but they are getting so scarce now that they had to do re-runs! More money should definitely be spent on good quality fun edu-tainment programs in chinese for children.

Zin said...

Mr Tan

I'd like to share this article about elite education in the States.

Blog Archive