According to the latest studies, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), Singaporean students remain one of the top performers in world alongside Finland, South Korea and Hongkong. However this is not the case when it comes to local university admissions where foreign students are preferred and up to 18% of the university places were specially reserved for them.
“it was also important to have international students in Singapore as they “helped expand Singapore’s cross-border networks, increasing trade and business ties in the long run, especially those to China.”~ PAP PM Lee Hsien Loong
Singapore’s local universities apparently doesn’t think very highly of Singaporean students like the studies do. Most foreign students in local universities especially those from China were admitted through their local high school diplomas which do not include the English language. Foreign students who are incompetent in English just need to attend an English-bridging course offered by the university and they will be allowed a place easily as compared to a Singaporean student who will need to have minimum a B3 grade in his GCE A Level General Paper.
The survey may have indicated that the Singapore’s education system could be one of the best, the society molded from its graduates says otherwise. Being a country churning the least number of entrepreneurs in the world, the education system inherently produces good workers no doubt, but bad leaders with any appetite for risk. The Singapore’s education system punishes failures heavily with condemnation and class relegation in the name of Meritocracy. Students who failed to clear their exams will be segregated to schools and classes with lesser funds, support and opportunities. The result-oriented approach kept students on their toes, with tests and quizzes all year round packing up schedules leaving little or no time for learning outside the curriculum.
In the workforce, Singaporeans faces retrenchments as early as in their 40s and render themselves under-employed like taxi drivers with degrees. Is an education system which discourages change, reasoning, risk-taking and innovation still the best in today’s world?