Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A good education system

I made a statement that it is wasteful for a person to be trained as an engineer and end up working in a bank to sell financial products. A few people used strong words to criticize me for this statement. They argued that the engineering training make them suitable for other types of jobs.

There is no need for these people to interpret my statement in an extreme manner and then to attack it. This behavior reflects an immature and bigoted mind. They should seek to clarify and understand the other point of view first, before criticizing or making their judgement. In any case, one should avoid being judgmental.

Education is costly and can be wasteful. We spend a large part of our budget in education. We should ask if the money is well spent and if we are getting the right product from our education system.

I believe that a good education system should produce people with good character, be broad minded and confident. It should also give them the skills that are useful for their future careers.

I find these qualities in my nephew who was educated in the Australian system. He had to struggle under the Singapore system before his family migrated to Australia. My nephew told me that he like the Australian education system, which is more balanced and enjoyable.

He studied as an engineer and is now looking forward to work as an engineer, the type of work that he has studied for and liked. He is also aware that there is plenty of new areas that he has to learn, in the years ahead, to be a good engineer.

In contrast, I find many people in Singapore work in a field that is outside of their study. They also jumped from one job to another, for various reasons - better pay and working conditions. The job-hopping and the work mismatch will not develop the right skills and will harm our competitiveness in the long term.

To offset the wastefulness, many Singaporeans have to work long hours and suffer job stress. They now have to face the competition from foreign workers.

I am not saying that the Singapore education system is entirely bad. It has its good points and does produce good academic results that put us high in the world rankings. But, we should also be aware of its negative aspects, and the wasted dollars that could be better spent in other ways,.


yujuan said...

Trained engineers dun practise their trade for following reasons,
1. They are poorly paid in Singapore as a professional, pay suppressed by ease of employing foreigners who are willing to accept a lower pay. This is the main grouse.
2. Civil engineers work under hot, dusty and dangerous conditions, with no rewards of a higher pay as compensation.
3. Could make comparatively much much more in the financial and property sectors as RMs, insurance and property agents.
So it's $$ the main culprit.
Yes, it's not fair to criticize trained engineers for ditching their profession, and wasting the country's money in training.
After all they are trained in analytical skills, could be used broadly in practically all professions.
It's a fundamental problem in the Singapore system, the fear is our country will lose critical important skills, and we have to rely on foreign imported engineers to run our economy, if every engineering graduate veers towards the more moneyed fields, that has nothing to do with their training.
We are also losing local talents and skills in electricians, plumbers, tile layers, etc.
A R & D Engineer with a Masters degree complained that his job pays him only $4,200 gross monthly in a MNC, and have to work 10 to 12 hour days, compared to his faculty mates who switched profession, he's earning peanuts.
He's looking for a job abroad and immigrate, he wan to stay true to his training, his interest at stake.
That engineer is our nephew. He sees no future here, so he's joining the quitting brigade out of economic and interest reasons.

veronika said...

Education has 2 purpose. We are very familiar with one that teaches skills and theories.

The other teaches about how to think and take on skills about living.

Teaching about how to think and how to live is missing or not built into the overall curriculum. This is the 'hidden curriculum'. Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and most premium tertiary institution have it. Their curriculum helps develop thinking and solving issues, skills that is needed in everyday human activity.

Over here, in Singapore, the focus is acquiring the final product: the degree ( with or without honours).. in the shortest possible time.

Besides learning a specific field such as Engineering, Law or Medicine, the person as a whole must be attended to.

Educate for life and continue to be educated is the best path to ensure adaptability in any endeavour that one may pursue... attitude is everything
the choice is ours to make.

Xianlong said...

"does produce good academic results that put us high in the world rankings"

I consider the local education system a huge failure. Rank so high also no use when sinkies so easily replaced/displaed by cheaper foreign workers with dubious certificates.

I consider the apprenticeship system in Germany a good one. Craftsmen & machinists are decently paid compared to s'pore 's pathetic wages for these class of workers.

With info-tech, eduation ought to be cheaper & cheaper. People already start educating others via easy to understand style via youtube. The current school system is outdated.

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