Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) Dr Chee Soon Juan outlined reasons as to the “desperate need” to reform Singapore’s education system.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday (Oct 28), Dr Chee wrote that he raised the issue during a virtual Townhall Meeting with Bukit Batok (BB) residents last Saturday.

Dr Chee wrote: “Our students are subjected to intense pressure because of the massive amounts of material they have to absorb. Coupled with societal pressure that exams are make-or-break, many suffer mental health problems”.

Along with an intense pressure, he added according to a survey, 20,000 students – of which two-thirds were primary and pre-school children – consulted psychiatrists because of their fear of exams.

“When a student cannot cope, it’s never the system’s fault. It’s because the student is weak and needs extra help ie. private tuition. Tuition per subject can cost upwards of $1,000/month for a few subjects”, he wrote, questioning how many families could actually afford this figure.

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“Despite the rhetoric that our education system is number one, the govt imports foreigners in the millions because without them, it insists, we cannot boost productivity, enhance our competitiveness and create jobs for ourselves,” Dr Chee wrote.

He continued: “The PAP can’t have it both ways – if we have such a vaunted education system, we should be able to produce local workers, graduates and entrepreneurs to drive our own economy. Foreigners should complement our workforce, not the other way around”.

His sentiments were also shared by Hazel Poa. During the debate on strategies to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, NCMP Hazel Poa said that while Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat spoke extensively about the economic plans to address the post Covid-19 situation in Singapore, he did not discuss enough on how to prepare our people for the future.

She too cited Singapore’s grade-centric education system as a contributory factor as to why Singaporeans are losing out in the job market.

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In looking at Singapore’s education system as an owner of her own education company, she suggested: “We need to offer a wider range of subjects to students and greater flexibility in choices and combinations”.

“I wish to reiterate that we are not embracing customised learning, to the detriment of our children. When we personalise education, we will be able to look at everything we do in life as an education in itself”, the PSP NCMP said. /TISG

PSP NCMP Hazel Poa on education: Why are Singaporeans losing out in the job market in our own country?