"Every school a good school." True or bollocks?

In response to Education Minister Heng Swee Keat's announcement that the secondary school banding system shall be scrapped, on the basis that "Every school is a good school", I posted in an online youth forum seeking opinions.Reproduced below is part of an edited exchange by a certain Tan Shu Tong and me (mostly involving him though) which I felt would help provoke a deeper, more meaningful consideration of the issue:

Shu Tong said:

"Philosophically, every school is a good school and it is true in reality too depending on your perspective.

However, if you're looking at it in terms of reputation and such, those are defined by the society. His message wouldn't change the image and position the schools already have in the hearts and minds of the public."

I therefore questioned:

"So what did you feel is the actual intention of the minister in making such an explicit assertion?

Because of the growing dissent with regards to the "disparate" allocation of resources to various schools? Hence a need to quell things? "

Shu Tong answered:

"I think it's an accumulation of matters.

What you have said about the distribution of resources is one, while another probably is the ongoing concern where an increasing number of higher-caliber students take delight in dissing their peers from lower-tier schools and committing immoral acts without an ounce of shame.

In March this year, there was this Rachel pokedieyou*******s girl in the Express Stream, who made discriminating remarks about NA and NT students. Then around May, Minister Lawrence Wong made a statement along the lines that polytechnics should maintain its primary purpose of training students for the workforce, which led to a wave of comments on theonlinecitizen.sg where many JC students posted insults. Adding to that, you have NUS undergraduate scholar Sun Xu, who made derogatory remarks about Singaporeans.

Most recently, Malaysian Alvin Tan who was on a NUS law scholarship posted sex videos on his blog and even bragged about his "feats". Need I list more examples?

Maintaining true equality within our education system has always been a problem, yet it was neglected significantly by authorities over the years. Which is why stereotypical mindsets have been allowed to form and harden. For example, whether intentional or not, mainstream media has pretty much succeeded (no thanks to the minimal interference of MOE to rectify things since forever) in crafting this very subtle, biased impression where polytechnics are held in "lower" regard compared to junior colleges. These two institutions are vastly different with regards to their goals of education, so how could they be compared alongside each other?

This year, various events happened one after another and caused an undesirable chain-reaction of sorts, resulting in massive outcries of dismay from the general public. The education ministry began to comprehend that whatever it is they were trying to do: creating a rote-learning, competitive yet seemingly effective education environment at the expense of cultivating proper moral values, is slowly collapsing before their very eyes.

Therefore explaining why they even went to the extent of creating an award to recognize students who demonstrated exemplary moral values based on recommendation by the teachers. I believe this is a desperate measure taken to say things can still be turned around. Honestly, I doubt it will yield fruitful results. When a government needs to dish out incentives in order to encourage moral behaviour, something is seriously wrong.

DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam's recent statement about having a less exam-centric system so as to build character/ creativity, and Chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, Lim Biow Chuan's move to convert the Singapore Youth Festival into a non-competitive Singapore Youth Celebration are all part of a package of measures aimed at resuscitating the decaying levels of morality in today's youths. Adding to these, VISION 2030 was initiated by the Singapore Sports Council in the name of "teaching" sportsmanship, which in itself is another facet of moral education.

Thus, I believe the "Every school a good school" statement made by Education Minister Heng Swee Kiat is merely one in a string of intentions assembled in a coordinated attempt to effect a paradigm shift within the education system. While these are commendable, I just don't feel comfortable. What are they going to sacrifice this time round so as to humanize the younger generation?



The Czar (Site Founder)

Dated 14 November 2012

(I know this whole thing came rather late, but better later than never.)