Let interests guide students
Mon, Dec 28, 2009
my paper

I REFER to news that Singaporeans will receive an extra Primary 1 ballot next year.

Some applauded the move, while others lamented that selection for enrolment would still be based on chance.

However, I see this as a golden opportunity for Singaporeans to reflect on our lives and mindsets.

To many parents, it seems obvious that a "good" primary school is a gateway to a decent secondary school, which, in turn, makes it easier for a child to enter a distinguished junior college.

This leads to increased opportunities for scholarships and entry to prestigious universities.

A prestigious degree then contributes to a stable career and good income.

And, yes, the entire process takes at least 25 years, or about a quarter of one's lifespan.

I am not saying that Singaporeans should avoid preparing their children for this route.

The country has done well under meritocracy.

However, we should stop thinking about prestige for a moment and focus on what we want from an education.

Younger children have to rely on parental guidance as they are not old enough to make decisions about their life.

However, students who are in secondary school or older should spend time along with their parents thinking about what to study, instead of where.

For instance, there are parents who insist that their children should become doctors and therefore should study the necessary subjects, such as chemistry and biology.

Similarly, there are students who want to become doctors simply because of the prestige.

It is extremely unfair to children to study something they do not enjoy just for the sake of pursuing a certain career.

How can a child make up his or her mind on a career when he or she has not had any experience with it yet?

I suggest that students choose their courses based on their interests rather than career paths.

To them, I say: Use the syllabus. Ask people. Think for yourself.

Talk to yourself. And, for one moment, just forget about prestige.

Ms Wendy Ong

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