TNP's deputy editor proposes, MOE disposes

Singh's pertinent points on the state of education system in Singapore are a lone case or indicative of a wide-spread problem?

Melvin Singh, deputy editor of TNP recently wrote an article in his newspaper Learning for life, not grades. “Having been subjected to five years of schooling here, Reef [his 12-year-old son] now accepts all prescribed answers, never challenging again,” he wrote announcing his decision to move his family to Australia next year.

“We're quitting the education system here. While we have all the necessary tools here for our boys to do well in school, we don’t think doing well here is enough for them to be employable global citizens.”

While Singh also questioned the logic of making Chinese language examinable, which he claims “takes the joy out of learning the language”, his argument centred around what he called the “aha” moment.

“We will move them [his children] so they won't accept prescribed answers just to get an A,” he said adding, “This is us giving them an education.”

As expected, the ministry of education promptly replied, MOE: We are redesigning, which TNP published in full.

The ministry, in it's reply, talked about “continuing efforts to provide a holistic education”, “redesigning the curriculum and methods of teaching”, “reinforcing character and citizenship education”, “investing heavily in training teachers”, “creating multiple pathways giving everyone the opportunity to succeed”, and why the mother tongue remains an examinable subject as a reflection of its importance in an increasingly globalised world. 

Finally, the ministry claimed that it is “improving continuously from a position of strength”, and as various “global rankings suggest, our education system is fundamentally sound – indeed good”.

But surprisingly, in its long reply, MOE didn't directly respond to Singh's assertion that the education system here is focussed on teaching, not educating. “Teaching prepares you for exams. An education, like Institute of Technical Education (ITE)'s programme, prepares you for life,” Singh had written.