Educat-ion - Loss or Gain?
When it comes to education, I have lots to say. But let's just keep it to the point as I would like it, since most don't have much patience for reading long blogs.
I grew up in Singapore and went through the Singapore education system like anyone would in the 80s and 90s. No, I am not a millenial. But I do have a daughter who is one.
She went to my alumni primary school (which was a merger of 3 primary schools in the neighbourhood - my husband was studying in one of them!) near to where I used to live. In Singapore, one of the common phenomena is that people move house or even go to the extent of buying/renting an extra house which they don't live in, in order to obtain an address within 1 km distance from a "good"primary school ( this is not just hearsay, I personally know some parents who have done that). This is what Singaporeans call "kiasu" (dialect word for "fear of losing out").
I suppose it happens to a certain extent everywhere, because parents want the best for their kids. In Perth where we have just moved to for less than a week now, this phenomena is also present and it is pushing property prices around certain schools up!
The question is what is a "good"? How can parents know what is best for our children since we cannot see the future?
The reason parents want their kids to go to a "good" school is so that they can go to another "good" secondary school (or high school as the Americans would call it) and have a "good" education and mix with "good" company and get a "good" degree and then get a "good job", have a "good" spouse and start a "good" family, so that the "good" cycle can start all over again.
Growing up, I did all of the above. I had gone to a "good" girls' school in Singapore, did my GCE O levels exam, went to a "good" junior college and did my GCE A levels exams and was accepted into law school at National University of Singapore (which only accepts 150 applicants each cohort - qualification criteria was a minimum of 3 As at A levels, before going through a selection process of an interview and then a written exam).
At 17 years old after my A levels, I encountered Jesus. That changed my life the right side up with the right perspectives of what life is really all about. I suddenly had a purpose to live for beyond the futile cycle of life! I had thought that life was meaningless doing the paper chase and running the rat race. After 1 year in law school I wanted to drop out of university altogether and gave that up in order to pursue Christ and His calling for me. (In the end, my parents was able to persuade me to stay on, and I managed to study and finish another 5 long arduous years of law school. I remember graduating but not even attending the graduation ceremony or collecting my graduation certificate. I knew that God had other plans for me( which was not to be a lawyer for the rest of my work life), which then translated into me leaving my job as an attorney after 1 and half years of practice and following my passion to serve Him and His Kingdom. I was willing to give up anything and everything for Jesus to follow Him to wherever He called me.
When I got married, I wanted to make sure my daughter did NOT go through the same education system that i went through or hundreds of thousands of others went through. I did not want her to be different for the sake of being different. But I did want her to have a different pathway of learning. However there was not much other pathways of learnings in Singapore, except to go through the typical big exams system -PSLE, Os and As.
In my still yet unredeemed mind 10 years ago (I was a follower of Christ but still had unredeemed thoughts and plans), I had wanted my daughter to go to a "good" school and there was one round the corner of our house which was known to produce good students with good results to go to "good" secondary school. We had to ballot for a place and Elizabeth did not get the ballot so she went to my alumni school which was a "neighbourhood" school that became known because of a national tragedy that happened to some of the children.
However God knows best and had something else in mind for her, and answered my prayers for His Kingdom purpose. (Here’s a prayer parents who are true followers of Christ – try this prayer: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done!”) At this primary school, she was exposed to different students from different backgrounds and over 30 nationalities! Perfect place for my daughter to know more about the world we live through her friends in school! That, I call educat-ion. (real + gain of ions)
At primary 6, she has to sit for the most dreaded known national exam in Singapore called PSLE (primary school leaving examination). She did relatively well by PSLE standards but that did not really matter because she DSA(“direct school admission”)-ed through a sport which she NEVER did in primary school. How hilarious!
Again, another + gain of ions. (That can be a writing for another day)
In Singapore, parents will send their child from age of 3 onwards to beat the system by sending the child for tuition classes on reading, Math, Chinese, etc. and also add on music and sports to discover what sport they should focus on in order to get into the “good” school of their choice. Wow, how does one plan the whole life of your child ahead from 3 years old onwards!
Long story short, in this secondary school of her choice (she chose it because she liked the uniform and also because of her friends), she became the captain of the school team for that sport even though she was not the best at it, and God gave her influence in the school through many other leaderships roles too. So she had a direct school admission to secondary school to be part of a 6-year IP (“Integrated Program”) course, culminating at the Cambridge A-levels examination just before university.
Now at the end of 4 years, she has NO GCE O-level certificate, nor has she yet done her GCE A- levels, but little did she know that the invisible hand of God is at work behind the scenes. Just last December she wanted to study overseas and was choosing between the UK and Australia. She did not choose to do so, because she was doing badly. In fact, she did really well at her IP year 4 and she was given the GOLD Award by her school (which she did not get to attend because she is already in Perth for school) for an almost perfect GPA.
(By the way, I became the parent who kept telling my daughter to go to bed and forget about doing homework till past bed time. I don't see the value of doing homework or bringing so much work from school back home to do!)
She chose Perth as a choice of further studies because of what UWA (University of Western Australia) offers in her area of interest of conservation biology/agricultural science, not because it was the "prestigious" university in the academic world. She had unwittingly chosen it because God's plan and purposes for her was sure. In fact, she had not known that Jason and I had a prophetic word 10 years ago that we would be Australia for God's plan and purposes. It was God's hand in the whole guidance and we are happy as parents to be submitted to His will and plans.
I know very very few Singaporean parents would risk going this path without credentials and certification. But I suspect there might be more to come in the future as more are willing to choose a path less travelled by others. Let's be open with education because it is about learning and the acquisition of God's wisdom, understanding and knowledge for a real world.
Recent poll of millennials in Singapore showed 7 in 10 students are unsure or do not think the tertiary education they receive in Singapore prepares them sufficiently to join the workforce, according to an online poll. Source:
I pray that you will get a positive charge on educat-ion not a negative one!
Jesus taught His disciples something we can all follow too!
Mat 6 And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
May you seek first the Kingdom of God above all else! And your King who knows best will take you on the best adventures for you and/your child's learning journey!
For more adventures, visit my adventures page.