Our education system adequately prepares the young for adult life, but not in a good way.

Someone posed a question on Reddit: "Do you think our education system adequately prepares the young for adult life? " Redditor enyei (as the folks there like to call themselves) gives a bluntly honest and scathing response worth reading more than once:

"YES it does, but not in a good way. Our education system mirrors a carrot on a stick style of motivation, where all we are chasing for are better grades, the next tier of education and finally sources of money. And as we set foot in our career, the carrot is replaced by another juicer carrot (Or cheese, since its called the rat race.) which starts the whole chase all over.

But first, we have to do some introspection on our working system of adult life, since that is your ultimate question. The system in place is one that is pressurizing, harsh, tough and demanding. It not an uncommon sight to see Singaporean workers feeling burnt out, and working too hard and for too long.(See More young professionals suffering from burn-out)

The system requires the most tenacious of workers, workers who can sit through long hours of bullshit, workers who can go in there at 9am, get out at 6pm for 5 or possibly 6 days a week, and not complain about it. The system pressures the workers to excel in their domain, with some reward that is possibly monetary or a temporary relief from the work itself. And the people accept that.

Think about it, our workers are willing to get it stuck so far up their asses, and the reward is merely a respite from it. Now obviously I am making a HUGE sweeping statement here. I am not talking about every single working professional, or every single working adult. There ARE people who enjoy their work and are having a great time. I am pointing out the situation faced by the general working populace.

So with the working system described, let's examine the education system. Strikingly similar you say? I thought so. Our students are working for longer hours, doing more homework while at the same time are obliged to join a CCA to artificially induce a "study-play" balance. (See Singapore ranks third globally in time spent on homework )

The parents are being absolutely relentless about sending their kids for tuition. In fact tuition today is such a lucrative business, not because people have the passion to TEACH, but because many are capitalizing on the parents "Kiasuness". How many tuition teachers do you see declaring their love for teaching, as compared to them just doing it for the money? As such I beg to digress.

How about a full analysis of the education system at this point?

1) Kindergarten: Before we even head here, did you know there are things such as pre-kindergarten? A 3 year old baby is already getting his brain mentally whipped.

2) Primary school: This is usually where the tuition classes begins, and we see small kids carrying their huge school bags like turtle shells. The barrage of schoolwork and tuition are all in hope for their child to excel in their PSLE, and thus gain access to a top-tier secondary school. The pressure is on.

3) Secondary school: To most students here, it is arguably the best stage of their lives. Making the best friends and the greatest of memories. To the parents, it's their worst. Besides us going through pubescent changes, we're also going to sit for the 'O' Levels. Another barrage of tuition, night classes, online assignments, ten years series. Pressure cooker turned up another notch.

4) Junior college (I went to JC so I shall write about my JC experience): It only lasts 2 years, yet the moment we set foot in the JC, we're already f**king thrown to the walls, kicked on the ground and spat on by all that never-ending school work. The race towards 'A' Levels began even before we bought their school uniform. More tuition, more night classes, a stack of exam papers that date back to 2008. Its rare to make close friends there, because everyone is so caught up with their studies. We did have a little fun, then again its that pathetic amount of fun that kept us from going insane, or turning into total studious hermits. The pressure cooker is certainly one waiting to explode, as it decides if you get to go to a local university, or overseas. (Now that's a bad stereotype: local=good, overseas=bad is totally wrong. But from the general consensus of Singaporean parents, they all want is for their children to end up in a local university.)

5) Guys enter army. 2 years break for the brain. Some extremely motivated people are studying in the army for their university. I'm not sure if its motivation due to their passion for studies, or because they have been conditioned to work hard for all their lives.

6) University. The ultimate pressure cooker. There are TONS of articles online criticizing the university education system, on how its just students are merely studying for the sake of studying, how people lack the passion, and GPA is everything. I am not going to try to summarize it all. If you want to read it, go Google it. There are many well written ones out there. But the bottom line here is, almost everyone is a mugger. The final lap of the carrot chase ends here. For 4 (or 3) years we sit buried in our books trying to score or survive in the exams. Every semester lasts for 4 months, so its like short bursts of racing laps, and at the end of it we're all so f**king burnt out, and just as we think its finally over we're thrown into the rat race of the corporate world somewhat hastily and to a certain extent, unknowingly. Another phase of life thus begins, just another race to compete in.

So back to the question, and to reiterate my point. Yes the education system prepares us well enough, but that's because the education system and having an adult life are almost similar. Another race to achieve something, another certificate hung up in front of us to "admire". So it does prepare us by making us work hard, conditioned to be engaged in the pursuit of whatever it is. We are used to the long working hours, the dreaded squeeze in the MRT every morning to work, and every night back home. We are so used to being subjected to demanding environments.

I have traveled a bit and made a few Caucasian friends, and have had some Singaporean friends who studied abroad in UK, US and Australia; what they say about the dichotomy regarding the education system as well as working life between Asian countries like Singapore and them is absolutely true.

But at the end of the day, even if we're all mindless sheep with the habit of chasing materialistic goals that have been ingrained in us since kindergarten, does it matter even if we are happy about it? Does it matter even if we enjoy this sort of lifestyle? Yes it does, but that argument is for another time."


The Czar (Site Founder)

Dated 9 February 2015


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