Below is what a 15-year old girl tweeted to her friends overseas.
You know that the education system is a mess when you spend half your time convincing classmates who are really sick not to come to school but they insist anyway because the teachers will get mad if they miss tests, hand in assignments late or miss parts of the syllabus.
Honestly, the number of people around me in class who have been coughing and sneezing and looking like they are about to throw up resembles an endemic, yet they won’t go home because they are afraid they will get behind.
It has only been 2 months yet three-quarters of our class has already fallen ill.
|The O level year|
We have been brainwashed that the national exams are all that matter.
Does anyone realise that our health is just as important?
Why does it seem like I’m the only one who feels this way?
Some of our teachers are concerned, but all they can say is “Drink more water and try to rest more.” Rest? Why are they seemingly unaware of our cumulative workload?
And why do teachers still yell at students who already get less than 5 hours of sleep a night trying to complete homework and rushing to study for tests as though they are lazy? How can we fit everything the teachers dole out into 24 hours, with our CCAs, extra classes and student responsibilities?
Yet all these physical demands are nothing compared to the mental ones many are enduring.
Please, we are kids!
When did the typical day of a 15-year old become downing coffee at 2am while scribbling down the last answers to an assignment long overdue, and holding back tears when you get test papers back?
Because whenever we get test papers back, there are tears.
Grades are made out to be so important that if your best cannot achieve a good grade, you are nothing.
Who allowed that “F” on a test paper to define someone?
Who let algebra and the reactivity series become exceedingly more important than our health and happiness?
Where is the balance in our lives?
At the end of this gruelling year, what might be the outcome?
Success after pushing ourselves so hard, at the sacrifice of health and family life?
Or disappointment to our parents, that our best is not good enough.
This, we call education in Singapore.
Some of you may have already guessed. The 15-year old is my child.
She spent the weekend methodically demolishing her pile of homework, feeling slightly overwhelmed and trying to make sense of the stressful environment around her.
To put things in perspective, she’s in one of the better classes in an average secondary school. I hear from parents with kids in top secondary schools that the situation is very similar and peer pressure is great.
One mum even remarked, “Once the term starts, I rarely see her smile anymore. That is the life of our kids these days.”
I remember sitting in a parents’ information session in an elite primary school, and the Principal was touching on what to do in the event that the child was sick on the day of a test or exam.
I was so heartened to hear her remind the parents that if the child is sick, they should take the child to see the doctor and get a medical certificate instead of sending the child to school only for the duration of the test, because we want our children to know that we care about them and their health more than anything else.
Looks like the O level kids don’t have the luxury of adequate sleep and a healthy lifestyle, do they?
#7 – Who has an obsession with tuition?
#8 – Paying tutors $250 an hour to do assignments?
#9 – I didn’t even know my child was being bullied, until…
#10 – How I got my son to do his homework without nagging