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09 Aug 2019
Ministry of Education
Suggestion View - 391
Should we continue with the competitive education system?

Over the past decades, we have adopted a competitive education system.

The aim of this system is to identify the top students and to offer them scholarships and put them into leadership roles in government.

Many other Asian countries have also adopted a similar approach.

It has its positive aspects. It encourages the students to study hard and perform well in the examinations.

The best students are accepted into universities and have a chance to get a scholarship, paid by the state, for the prestigious universities in other countries.

This approach has its drawbacks. The severe competition to be the top students give stress to the students. Their parents also add to the stress. This has led to an alarming rate of suicide rate among youths who are not able to do well or to manage the stress.

What is the alternative?

We have the choice to remove the competition from the education system. 

We need need examinations to ensure that the students meet the expected standards. However, we should de-emphasize the top students. 

Maybe, there is no need to identify the top students. If we do, we should not tie it to big rewards like a scholarship.

We still have to face a dilemma. If we want 40% of the students to have a place in a university, there will still be competition to be the the top 40% that is selected. How can this be decided?

My suggestion is to have a place in a tertiary institute for everybody that meets the standard - say 80% of the population, but the tertiary education should cover the academic university and the non-academic institutes. 

The non-academic institutes can be technical or skilled based and prepare the students for careers in specific industries, such as hotel, telecommunications, manufacturing etc.

More importantly, the gap between the earnings of the academic and the non-academic graduates should narrow. I understand that this gap is about 10% in Switzerland.

What about the 10% to 20% who fail to make the grade? They can continue their education for one or two more years, if they wish. They will eventually graduate.

I think that my suggestion is similar to the practice in some countries, like Germany and Switzerland.

In my view, it should be possible to make a change and get away from the competition in the education system.

Tan Kin Lian 

Vote - do you agree with the suggestion to change the education system to remove the intense competition?


Agree: 8  Disagree: 3  Vote