SG Education? Not For My Kids

By asingaporeanson

Many Singaporean parents probably agree with me. Education is not all about grades. While the primary goal of education in Singapore seems to be learning how to ace examinations, we quietly hope our children learn good values and build up a good character through their first years in school.

I know it is contradicting if I criticize the teachers of that kindergarten, who were only trying to teach children the virtue of respect. However, making little children bow to a portrait of Lee Kuan Yew just made me uncomfortable. It is so North Korean. Yes, I know millions of you went to Lee Kuan Yew's funeral and bowed to pay your last respects. It was after all, a great man's funeral. The above was a tribute site and that incident took place months after LKY's death. I wonder, I can't help but wonder are we expected to do the same thing during every LKY's death anniversary in future in order to be considered a respectful or grateful person?

So what's my problem? I had seen a friend mourning LKY's death harder than her own parent's. I witnessed how the hordes put a LKY portrait as their Facebook profile pic as a mark of respect. I wonder will these same people put the portrait of their parents as their Facebook display picture after their passing and write emotional declarations about they will be nothing if their parents did not painstakingly bring them up. That will be much admired. As a pissed-poor (reader requested me to spell it this way) peasant, I don't have a lot of spare change but I'll bet you my last coin these Singaporeans will not do that. And that's my problem. If the legions among us worship an unrelated man more than our own parents, there is something seriously wrong with either Singaporean parenting in general or the education we go through.

I'm fine with national education and instilling national pride in our young but we tend to go too far too often. If this is the kind of education our children is going to have, I have none of it for mine. Obviously the kindergarten teachers even made the children do rehearsals for the bowing. Little kids of that age do not stand in a straight line and bow almost spontaneously together. Who are we kidding here? Prior to making their appearance, the little kids would have been drilled like soldiers preparing for the NDP until the teachers deemed it was good enough.

I bet half of the kids don't even know what they were doing. Just look at their what-the-hell-is-going-on faces there.

Is this how we teach respect? More like obedience training. Conform or face the music. That is basically what Singapore education is all about.

“Mine is a very matter-of-fact approach to the problem. If you can select a population and they're educated and they're properly brought up, then you don't have to use too much of the stick because they would already have been trained. It's like with dogs.”- Mr Lee Kuan Yew

This post was first published over at the blog of asingaporeanson on 26 August 2015. It is reproduced with permission.


Educating the heart-a Singaporean in Australia

We are no longer the pliant children we used to be

Nationally Speaking SG50: What Makes The Lion Roar?