latest updates

past issues

things to do

about us


odds and ends


t r i b u n e . o n l i n e
the students' voice


Great Expectations, and How to Survive the Education System by Michelle Lee

I have watched the movie "I Not Stupid", and I think that the issues that are raised in it are worth a mention. These issues, such as the continuously rising standard of education here in Singapore and ambitious parents expecting their children to do better than they are capable of academically, are very real and pressing in our society.

There have been more and more cases of primary school children committing suicide these few years. It really shocks me how these youngsters are so pressured that they actually decide to end their own life. Maybe this should be a cue for the government to review the educational system and the standard it sets for students.

If you haven't noticed, the rate of Singaporeans migrating to Australia, the United States and other countries is increasing throughout the years. There, they can experience a slow-paced and relaxed life, where strangers greet strangers instead of giving each other the cold stare, and the more conducive environment results in better work productivity. The benefits of migrating overseas are quite apparent.

Furthermore, the learning environment there more is relaxed and caters to the individual student's pace of learning. In their case, learning does not only revolve around tests and examinations. They learn about life and society along the way. In Singapore, all students seem to care about is doing well for examinations and getting top scores. At the same time, parents of school-going children are likely to compare examination results with parents of their child's peers. This act puts even more pressure on the child to get better scores. Is it truly worth it? After all, learning is a life-long process. You don't just learn for the sake of getting higher scores than your friends, or to prove that you are smart.

But as moving overseas is not the most feasible of solutions to combat this school-related stress - and let's face it, Singapore's education system is world-class and statistically better than that of your average American public school - we must seek other ways to help make the school years less demanding. The love and encouragement that parents provide play a very important role in creating a stress-free environment for their children to grow and learn in. Parents should also communicate more with their children and try to understand them better, so as to being able to cater to their needs.

Despite the fact that it has not been very long since I first entered the education system, by comparing my Primary One textbook with the textbook of today's Primary One children, it is quite obvious ( through the changes made to the syllabus ) that the expectations surrounding students are being raised higher and higher. What I learnt in Primary Three Science is probably common knowledge to today's Primary Three cohort.

My father sees that that as well, and complains often that the government of Singapore is expecting too much from us students. Seeing us slog through our everyday routine while feeling tired and exhausted, he says that he feels our pain, and tries to counsel and encourage us, giving us much-needed morale boosts. My mother shows me love by cooking a special tonic soup for me daily, and also tries to help me in my work, giving me words of wisdom at the most appropriate times. They never pressure me for good results - they just want me do my best in whatever I do. I am very thankful that I have such parents; understanding and care are the greatest gifts parents can give their children, especially in today's trying times.