The Education System that Fails our Kids

Singaporean mum, M sent me a link about how the Australian education system is failing our kids. And so it begins ..... again. 

The education system is failing our kids. Really? That's a nice change from our kids failing the education system. Too often, I found other Singaporean parents mocking or even sneering at the Australian education system, citing how "low standard" it is as compared to Singapore's education system, that is "streets ahead." It takes a lot of humor to laugh at a country that produced 15 Nobel Prize Winners and 138 Olympic Gold Medals when all Singapore has to show is a big fat zero. If our education system produces capable people, why are the majority of our business headed by a foreigner? And I thought Singaporean parents are result oriented.

From a Singaporean parent's perspective, how do we view a Time Trial prior to a Formula One race? The fight for pole position, just like how our kids fight to be the Top Student of their cohort in examination halls. My friend Patrick has his own point of view. He told me to observe how top Formula One drivers conduct their time trial. Often, drivers can clock awful timings. We can put that down as the familiarization process of the race track. We are not wrong but there is something else to it. The time trial is a golden opportunity for a driver to test limits. For example, how fast they can go before they'll kiss the barriers or how sharp their cars can turn at a particular bend. More often than not, they stuff up and clock uninspirational timings in their laps and they don't appear to care because their priority is learn everything they can about the terrain and how they can assert themselves according to their strengths when the real race starts.

Patrick's perspectives changed my perspective of education. A pole position is undeniably an advantage but it is hardly a deciding factor of the winner in a Formula One race. To perform well, you need a good team, a good car, good skills and most importantly, a full understanding of the track you are racing in. Like the example above, the real race is out in the wild world after our graduation from schools. Even if you are given a good car, how will you perform if you have whiny parents as your team and full of theories in your head that have no clue how to implement? Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to imply it is possible for a last placed driver in a time trial to win the race. Our aptitude and development varies individually over time. The point is that even a last placed driver can finish a race ten placings better than his time trial. 

In my opinion, the purpose of education is to learn to learn. This does not resonate with a system that feeds the brilliant and buries the weak. In contrast, the Australian system allows children to learn at their own pace centered around discovery rather than grinding. It may be true that a primary school pupil in Australia is a few years behind Singapore in solving mathematics or science questions. However, students here grow up to be more holistically developed, diverse, confident and knowledgeable to take on the demands of the working world.


  1. Sg system is all about getting the best possible perfect score and never about critical thinking and the joy of learning.

  2. Australian workers top US, UK and Germany in 21st-century readiness

  3. Our education system can change but the mentality of "my child's worth is = how many A's they get" will make any change pointless.

    The root of the problem is the mind set.

  4. every education system has it's strength and weakness. Sinagpore system is now more flexible in the path for weak students and is more holistically developed, diverse, confident and knowledgeable to take on the demands of the working world.. Anyway , WA has it's own set of problems with undisciplined students.

  5. The competition and race for grades in sg is senseless..
    That's y we r also moving over to Australia at the end of the yr.. We have 2 kids, born in the dragon n sg50 yrs respectively.. If we stay in sg, god bless us during the p1 registration.. Poor kids..