Toxic school environment with lousy teachers, feeling discouraged

This query comes from a student:

Every school is a good school? BULLSHIT.

I am studying in a neighbourhood secondary school because I did badly for my PSLE......sighz. In Normal Technical stream btw. Classmates always playing truant, smoking and bullying others, teachers here are lousy and can't teach. I am one of the few students who still study very hard as I really wish to take the 'O' Levels and subsequently attend a polytechnic, but how exactly can I concentrate in such a toxic environment? Feeling so discouraged about the future. :(

The Response:


As we all know, every school is a good school, but some schools are better than others.

I do have a few students from neighbourhood schools, and what I tell them is that in life, we do not always get the cards that we want. What I mean to say is, some of us are born into poorer/worse family backgrounds, and some of us are born into better ones. You and I are already fortunate enough to be born in Singapore where there is no need to worry about basic necessities most of the time, and we do already have access to better opportunities than many other countries in the world. You will (and should) feel better and more optimistic when you think about that.

My advice to you, and to all students, is to simply make the most out of what you have – there is no point complaining about something you cannot change (i.e. your school environment). Instead, seek to change what is within your sphere of control – don’t hang out with the delinquents and do go to outside libraries to study on your own, seek outside help in the form of tuition (or if that’s out of your budget, sit down and study with a good guidebook from Popular – you will be surprised at how much you can learn from just focusing on the materials there), make friends with the rare few in your class who might be more studious, and take initiative to consult teachers (yes, they may be “lousy”, but it’s hard to find a teacher who turns down students that are willing to learn). If you think hard, there are many things you can actually change for the better.

All the best and stay positive. There are plenty who have done well in life despite coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.


Eric Chng

(Senior Councilor: May 2013-Present)

Answered On 27 July 2017