Singaporean studying in Monash University: Our education system is a failure

By Haz Ma

I got my degree from Monash University in Melbourne Australia and I would like to share with your readers a life story that happened to me.

I had a shock in one of my papers.

Topic was Marketing.

I received a freaking "E" grade for it.

I went to confront the lecturer the next day after I got my grades and asked him what I did so gravely wrong that I deserved an "E" grade?

I explained that everything I wrote was content taken from our module textbook.

He replied: "Look at the book. Look at who the author of the book is!"

I took a good look and then it dawned on me - he was the author of the book.

He then continued: " You don't have to tell me what I wrote, I know what I wrote. You are suppose to express to me how you are gonna do it based on your own ideas and thoughts!!!!!!!!"

I was like.....OMG......and I begged him to give me another chance to retake this paper as I'm from Singapore and that our education system requires us to memorise the book's contents and just quote them directly as answers. Does not matter if we understood the phrase or article or not, as long as we can regurgitate things line by line, we were marked as correct.

His reply was a simple short laugh: "Sure I'll give you another go. You're not the first student from Singapore who has told me this. But whatever grade you get in the re-test, don't get your hopes up too high."

Seriously,I will gladly accept anything so long as it's better than an "E".

So I took the re-test and scored a much better "B" grade.

That was the day I realised, in a class of say 40 students for example, because no two people think exactly alike, there would probably be 40 answers to a question posed. There is also no right or wrong answer in most cases, just how you perceive your answer and how you subsequently validate it through a proper set of arguments.

Whereas, in Singapore, there is mostly only 1 standard answer to any question regardless what level of education it may be. In Singapore school every teacher teaches students to follow the 'model answer', when in actual fact there isn't really a model answer.

I look at our island now, governed by mostly highly locally educated people and I tell myself simply.......WE'RE SO SCREWED. Ruled by people who are trained to simply do what they are told and not taught to think and solve problems by themselves.

This was reproduced with permission from editors of The Real Singapore.


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