A month Haitus and not really back

I have to share this with everyone, its about education systems around the world and how it affect one self, but this is not my writing and I found it on the net reading the news, its really comes to show that is education that important ? or life skills ? or compassion ? well you decide for your self. I feel we need a bit of all but not being extreme over one thing, and I feel that traveling for a year or two is not too crazy because that is not in Asian culture to do so, but if they can do it why not us ?  please read and I do believe that you would agree at some point. What do you think ?I got this article from http://www.theonlinecitizen.com, I wanted to put a link and direct readers to the writers site so you guys can comment, but I feel what happens if one day they decide to take it down, so I have blogged it up here instead, anyway here is the link Education Systems

Why I prefer Canada’s education system – world-ranking or not

Sunday, 29 November 2009, 1:39 pm | 3,337 views

Wing Lee Cheong / Canada

“Singapore’s ranked 1st in quality education system in the world” – Global Competitiveness Report 2007–2008

“Singapore ranked one of the world’s best-performing school systems” – McKinsey Report, published September 2007

“Singapore students ranked among the top in Mathematics and Science”
– Trends in International Mathematics and    Science Study (TIMSS) 2007

“Singapore ranked 4th among 45 education systems” – Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2006

Those are very impressive achievements that one can be proud
of.  Dr.Ng Eng Hen, the Education Minister of Singapore, cited a 2007
survey by the Fraser Institute that shows 94 per cent of Ontario
students were dissatisfied with the Canadian public school system.
Dr.Kishore, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS,
proudly claimed that educational leaders around the world are flocking
to Singapore to copy Singapore’s successful educational model. He said
that some North American schools are even using similar textbooks in
their schools.

Canada may not have a perfect education system but I seriously doubt
the reliability of the survey cited by Dr Ng. One has to question the
criteria and sample size used for the survey.

Most
Canadians are proud of their education system and will not trade it for
the aggressive streaming system of Singapore where one’s future and
career is based solely on academic results. Studies have shown that
passing standardized examinations with good grades does not necessarily
mean that one has a better knowledge of the subject than another with
lesser or failed grades. In most cases, it simply shows that the person
is better in the art of taking examinations. There are controversies
amongst Canadian educationists if standardized examinations can
accurately assess students’ subject knowledge and the application of
that knowledge. Not knowing how to apply the knowledge is no knowledge
at all.

In the pursuit of academic excellence, Singaporean parents force
their children to study long hours to make the grade.  In the fierce
process, Singapore children are denied the joys of childhood. This
explains why Singapore children are more stressed and tensed compared
to Canadian children with their happy and carefree outlook.  Children
of Singapore friends who visit me in Canada tend to be more reserved
and do not interact well. More interestingly, almost all of them would
bring their school work during these visits. The parents made sure that
their kids did certain hours of studies everyday despite the fact that
they were on holidays. It is a strange trend amongst Singapore parents
who want to be one-up on others. It is a reflection of the typical
Singapore “kaisu” culture.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint

Canada
is one of the few countries that do not have a central or federal
education ministry. All the thirteen provinces and territories have
their independent education ministries to coordinate the national
system through the Council of Education. This system has worked well
for the country. Canada’s literacy rate is 99 per cent and placed at
19th in world standing, while Singapore’s  is 94.4 per cent and placed
at 74th, according to UNESCO in its 2007 annual report.

Canadians believe that life is a marathon and not a 100-meters
sprint. Children are encouraged at a young age to develop at their own
natural pace. There is no streaming. Mentally-challenged children are
put in the same class as the normal and gifted children. Exceptions are
made for severe mental cases. Under this environment, Canadian kids
learn to develop compassion towards the less fortunate and realize that
the world comprises different kinds of people. Hence they grow to be
less arrogant and less prejudicial.

It is mandatory for students to do part-time jobs or perform
volunteer duties at seniors’ home and other charity organizations in
order to graduate from high schools. The students get marks for doing
charity or part-time jobs. It is not uncommon to see volunteers in the
hospital reception areas, families picking litter on the streets,
distributing food/clothing to the needy, volunteers in senior homes,
even the mentally and physically challenged are taken care of by
volunteers. While in Spore the handicapped are considered an
embarrassment and kept in the homes by their families, here in Canada
volunteers bring them out shopping and they are encouraged to
participate in recreational activities.

Canadians constitute less than 1 per cent of the world’s population
but provides 10 per cent of the world’s peacekeeping forces in its
selfless and unceremonious way. Volunteerism has become second nature
to Canadians.

Singapore – just study and get good grades

This
is in contrast with Singapore where an increasing number of parents
would have maids attend to every need of the children. The maids carry
the school bags, bring the drinks and food. All the children need to do
is to study and get good grades. It has come to a point where many kids
cannot do without maids. I have friends whose kids would scream to
their maids to do simple chores like getting a drink. Few of these kids
know how to make a cup of tea let alone a simple meal for themselves.

Even our much respected figure of MM Lee, despite all the fine
education and good grades he had, did not know that one needs to peel
off the egg shell before a hard-boiled egg can be eaten. (As related
recently by his daughter in a Straits Times article.)

It is a common practice for Canadian university students to take a
year or two off to travel the world and return to complete their
studies later. My daughter took a full year off to backpack in
Australia two years ago. With another classmate, they bought a used car
and drove all over Australia. Most of my friends in Singapore thought I
was crazy to let a young girl postpone her studies and travel aimlessly
for a year.

Perhaps to most Singaporeans, it was a complete waste of time and
money. My two other boys similarly backpacked in Africa, South America,
Asia and Europe during their summer holidays. They learned more from
their travels than from textbooks. Most importantly, they enjoy their
lives. It is difficult to reconcile how forcing our children to go on a
relentless paper chase can be the right thing to do.

Canada may not compare well with the Singapore education system in
world rankings. Canadian students may not compete well in mathematics
and science tests against Singapore students. Despite these, however,
Canada has produced eighteen Nobel Prize winners, 44 Olympics
medalists, with 9 Gold Medalists in the last three games, plus hundreds
of world-renowned entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, writers, actors,
singers, etc. By population ratio, Singapore should produce at least
three Nobel Prize winners and scores of artists and writers, etc. Even
Hong Kong and Taiwan each managed to have one Nobel Prize winner, many
Olympic medalists and entrepreneurs.

Trade-off and compromise

The Canadian and the Singapore education systems are built on
different premises. Singapore trains its students to be 100 meters
sprinters for fast results to show the world whilst the Canadian system
train its students to be marathon runners for the long haul in life.
Canadian public education is free for all its citizens and permanent
residents – from kindergartens to high schools. Tuition fees for most
universities cost an average of C$6,000 per year.

The
unscientific assumption by Singapore’s leaders that if you are not good
at passing examinations with good grades, you are unlikely to make good
for the rest of your lives, is laughable. History has shown us that
there are scores of high achievers without degrees, i.e Bill Gates,
Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Henry Ford,
Frank Lloyd Wright, etc.

History teaches us that we cannot get something for nothing. If we
push our children hard to be super human beings, we may push most of
them over the edge. There is always a trade-off and compromise.

These children would grow up to be blinded by materialism and money,
potentially resulting in a lack of compassion, failed marriages, poor
social interaction skills, aggressive behaviors, and so on. No one has
managed to social engineer a super society. There are already signs
Singaporeans are stressed out before retirement. If the people are
pushed at an early age, they will wear out at an early age. Few people
can last being stressed for their entire working lives.

Singapore may have a better education system (according to certain
rankings and studies) and the citizens may be contented and proud of
it. However, I still prefer the traditional Canadian education system
where we are taught to be human beings rather than human machines. We
may not be high in world rankings but we are happy. That is what life
is all about. All the millions of dollars a year would not necessarily
bring you genuine joy and happiness. We were born with nothing and we will leave with nothing.

 

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