Mon, Mar 16, 2009
The New Paper
'I changed my plan to stay here'

I AM WRITING in response the article by Mr S Murali, 'Why pay to pit S'pore kids in islandwide tests?' (The New Paper on Sunday, 22 Feb). I am so glad to know someone shares my point of view on this.

I am a Singaporean, but left Singapore when I was still single. Now, 18 years later, I am back as a single mother of two young boys, 7 and 4.

My original plan was to stay here for good. However, after several months of being here with my boys enrolled in a local school, I had a change of heart.

I have decided to go back to where we were, a place I called home for 15 years. The reason for that change of heart is the education system here.

Before I returned to Singapore, my children used to love going to school and looked forward to it every day. But when they started attending school here, they hated it, especially my older son.

He would come home every day complaining about how the teacher scolded him for not knowing basic mathematics and getting his spelling wrong, and about classmates calling him stupid and making fun of him because his handwriting looks like a doctor's (that is what I say).

There is also all the homework they have to do. This wasn't how it used to be. Before Singapore, my son would come home running and laughing. Every day at dinner time, he would excitedly share with me what he did and learnt at school. He was always proud of what he had achieved.

But now, after less than a year of living and attending school here, I see a big change not only in his character but also his attitude towards going to school, his interest in learning and his command of English.

Adults here remark how my children are always playing with Lego, building battleships, flying saucers, robots or a big house for mum. They remark how my children are at the playground, cycling or building sand castles at the beach every weekend instead of studying, doing their homework, going for tuition, enrichment programmes or working on 'educational' games on the computer.

A parent actually commented that my older child is not computer savvy, does not have a PSP and doesn't watch TV and my younger one does not know how to read or write.

I just don't get it. Why worry about your children not being computer savvy at the age of barely 7?

Why do I have to worry that my child still cannot read or 'write' when he is only 4?

The article is right about the questions the interviewer is going to ask the applicants when applying for a job as a journalist.

Every afternoon, I take my children to the playground to play. And usually they are the only children there and I am the only parent playing with them.

You may have book-smart children who ace all the tests, but they may not be street-smart.

We are packing our bags and heading back 'home', a place where children are allowed to be children, where it is understood and accepted that children grow and learn at different paces, where parents and educators understand the importance and concept of learning through play.



This article was first published in The New Paper.

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