By: Phillip Ang
Parents and teachers will continue to face unnecessary pressure because good grades have remained the only focus of our educational system.
To better understand why, one just needs to look at top policymakers, perm secs, GLC CEOs and directors, paper generals and ministers: how many are not scholars? A list @jesscscott.wordpress.com/pap-scholars/
These elites have benefited financially and materially beyond their wildest dreams. Why would they want to change a system that has ‘worked’? If these top jokers had ever wanted to level the playing field, would our income disparity be one of the highest in the world?
From young, children have been taught to view grades as the be all and end all in order to achieve their dreams. And the government has also confirmed their obsession with good grades by parachuting scholars with no relevant experience into stat boards, GLCs and ministries as CEOs, directors and perm secs .
No education minister has managed to take any pressure off the obsession with grades or the billion-dollar tuition industry would not have flourished. Citizens are just blindly following their leaders.
SPF Overseas scholar and former MOE minister Heng Swee Keat merely introduced cosmetic changes such as naming “Every school a good school”. After leaving office, the government mouthpiece credited Heng with implementing real changes in “Heng Swee Keat as education minister: A study in bold moves”! Seriously, MOE copied lock, stock and barrel “Every school a good school” from Northern Ireland. That not pai seh move was certainly bold.
That the government should stop talking the talk was highlighted by a vice principal who clearly deserved a promotion. She was only stating the obvious. Did Heng, his scholar wife and fellow scholar ministers send their children to good schools in a HDB neighbourhood?
An SAF scholar, current MOE Minister Ng Chee Meng is now in charge of the latest wayang. In fact, he has 2 scholar brothers who have also benefited from taxpayers’ generosity. From his perspective, why should the system change its focus from grades? Are his teenage daughters in a neighbourhood good school?
How does Ng even understand what ails our education system after having spent his entire life in the military post graduation? Wasn’t his phenomenal rise to a 3-star paper general based solely on grades?
We have witnessed this sort of cosmetic change all too often by the government, eg GLCs SMRT and SBS ‘resolved’ the issue of low pay by ‘promoting’ bus ‘drivers’ to bus ‘captains’. After years of suppressing bus drivers’ pay, it has recently been increased to $1950 only because both GLCs were forced by real competition from new service providers. Similarly, if MOE is not forced to effect meaningful changes, it will continue to coast along: our only-good-grades-can-succeed system is here to stay.
Roy Ngerng’s table below sums up MOE’s cosmetic change. For a more in depth analysis of MOE’s ‘changes’, read his post here
Parents and teachers must have been deeply disappointed because MOE merely changed “Grade” to “Achievement Levels” and alphabets to numbers in the new scoring system.
To put a stop to all this obsession with grades, the government can lead by discarding its focus on only grades for promotion and take into account other factors such as work experience.
The disincentive to effect meaningful change by MOE can be easily understood when we put ourselves in the shoes of scholars running the system. Be prepared for more MOE wayang and there will be little to disappoint.
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