Education system should be more practical

Singapore’s education system. A centre for debate and controversy spanning for more than three decades. If one thinks in the view point of the big picture, is the material/syllabus that the current generation of students are learning relevant anymore?

What is the vision and mission of this entire “education” that the Ministry wants Singapore’s millennials to so truly take up?

Firstly, let’s start off with Mathematics. Yes, maths is of course extremely important in our daily lives, but how often do you come across problems that require Pythagoras’s theorem or other complicated formula to solve? The ministry, more specifically, none other than our former education minister Heng Swee Keat himself, mentioned that they want subjects learnt in Singapore’s schools to be largely relevant in daily lives. Only a small portion of the Mathematics syllabus covered in the Singapore’s education system (I’ll refer to this as “SES” from hereafter”) are relevant in most of the future generations’ daily lives.

Same goes for the Sciences too. Who will actually bother to learn about Volts and Ohms , subatomic particles or the human anatomy? Sure, if you are a scientist or an electrician. Yes, learning about how a circuit works is fun, you get to appreciate and understand new things. But do we have to make it so stressful for students to “mug” for these topics for their examinations? Which brings me to my next point.

The SES is packed with activity after activity for students. Activities such as Co-Curricular Activities, or CCA, takes up a lot of the average student’s time. Yet, the Ministry continues churning out exam after exam for them, on occasion even having 2 exam sittings on the same day, followed by yet another exam the next day and so on and so forth until all the exams are completed. Isn’t that a bit.. too much? Sure, efforts such as cancellation of CCA during exam periods are being put in place recently, but lives of adolescents don’t only revolve around school.

What about their leisure time, in this 21st century, where you need social media such as Facebook or Instagram, to stay connected with your friends and news around the world? Or maybe a session of video games, to help alleviate the immense stress?

That’s not to say that student’s lives in Singapore should be completely relaxing. There should be a degree of stress present of course, to help prepare them for their daily lives in the future. Hardships and challenges will no doubt take place. I just feel that the Ministry is not doing enough to balance Singaporean students’ schedules for work and play.

All in all, I feel that Singapore’s education system needs to be reworked. More relevant subjects such as Information-Communication Technology (ICT) need to have greater emphasis placed on them compared to say generic Science. Furthermore, even subjects such as Maths and Science need to be looked into, and undergo a major syllabus rework, testing those more relevant sub topics in exams, while at the same time giving students the opportunity to learn something new, but perhaps less relevant topics. Singapore boasts that it has one of the best education systems in the world, when this isn't actually the case. You’ve got to experience it personally to really know what I am talking about.

This article was first published over at TR Emeritus on 19 February 2016. It is reproduced with permission.


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