10.10.2013

Burning Books, Tuition and the Happy Index Link

Daddy talk

Recently in the news , there was a case of parents initiating the ritual of burning books to their children. To cut the long story short, they were burning PSLE assessment books upon the completion of their children PSLE.



Along with this, there was a great debate on tuition for kids. In particular the obsession with tuition amongst Singaporeans and the excessive nature and intent of tuition .

In conjunction with these 2 , we have heard that Singapore is the happiest nation in Asia with the most unhappy people in the world. The last observation is a bipolar one but one that is simple to interpret. The first is a survey base on hard numbers- GDP, life expectancy and corruption. The latter a survey base on the emotive response of individuals. Thus it could be interpreted that Singapore is a good place to stay in but in return the people sacrifice individual happiness to live here.
In essence, these may sound like individual stories, but in reality they are intertwined and co-related. The burning of books incident may not be an isolated case in terms of controversial actions taken or written. The angst felt by the parent is probably due to the excessive demands of primary school education. The nature and demand of primary school studies which demands tuition probably lead to this incident. Tuition is but an additional 'burden' faced by students and parents alike. This probably explains why assessment books were the victims of this bonfire.

All these spiral downwards. If the adults demonstrate that acting out on angst is good, the children will tend to follow. In Singapore, where we are deem as the world 's unhappiest, it could only mean a vicious cycle of transplanting an adult frustrations to the children. The act of burning books itself is controversial and had links to many distasteful incidents both of destruction and contempt. The significance here is not the act itself ( which may be innocent on intent) but the notion of influencing the young ones that defiance is acceptable in today's society.

Rather than do something worthy such as a customary celebration or a reward for a job well done, the parents choose to impose hatred and disdain toward a particular subject through this wilful act. At the end of the day, values are distorted and worse, inculcated in the youths of today.
As such Singapore may never transform her people to happy people. For the core happiness values of the nations are eroded by the ones that holds the power to influence. As parents , we should seek to address this problem. As role models to our children, we should encourage positive values and mentality. Only then we can change the mindset of our children and the future custodians of Singapore.

In addition, policies need to be relook in Singapore. A good start will be to take a cue from Finland, where the young are the not subjected to tuition and have only examination at age of 16. Yet they are recognized as having one of the best education system in the world, constantly producing quality students that complete with the best around the globe. It is time for the authorities to relook and overhaul our educational demands in this country.

There are fault lines that exist within the fabric of a nation core. It has to be address. The self assessment begins from home and progress to nation. It must start today and now.
Otherwise Singapore will always be known as the pretty yet soulless place to be in. Beautiful on the outside, ugly on the inside.

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