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10/05/2006

feelings of relative wellness

Feelings of relative wellness Singaporean parents are the most stressed by our education system. Not that they have to sit for the exams. It is the social stigma that they have to live with and be confronted by the daily comparisons of why their children are not in the Gifted Programme or in the top schools, or why they are in neighbourhood schools, normal stream or last in class. How could they bear such labels being hanged over their Gucci and Versace apparel and accessories? How could they say their children are in Longkang Besar Sec School? In earlier days, schools were ranked in a simple order of goodness. Then you have the two Raffles, ACS, SJI, the Convents etc hogging the limelight at the top. And any children that are not in the top 10 schools were considered non conversation topics. Better not to be seen or heard. And when newer concepts like SAP Schools and Independent Schools came about, a different kind of orientation of the mind map took form. Now children must be in such institutions to be recognized as good students, to give pride to their deserving parents. Under these two systems, only a small group of students could do their parents proud as our mind can only accommodate about 10 digits, the top ten. Even being top ten in class will be a good thing to talk about though the child is not from a fine school. Any bigger number is difficult to comprehend. Naturally not many parents could be found to be happy. All kinds of ranking that defines what or who is good or better will make those not so good feel lousy. Quite a normal response. So when the SAP and Independent Schools were taken out of the ranking list, more parents were made happier as another 10 new schools made it to the top of the packing order. Needless to say, parents of those in SAP and Independent Schools were still be as elated as ever. The next great thing that the Ministry came up with is the banding system. There are now 9 bands for the Special/Express Stream and four for the Normal Stream. And the beauty of this system is that 6 schools can be in one band. How would this make parents happier? With only 9 bands, we cannot expect parents to look at the top ten anymore. A little adjustment to read the top 3 or 4 bands as good schools will suffice. Bravo! Another 24 (6 x 4 bands) schools will now be socially acceptable as good schools. And in total, including all the SAP, Independent and Integrated Programme Schools, there will now be 30 to 40 that will make parents feel good instead of just 10 in the past. The Ministry could go on and add more schools to make parents feel more secure and less traumatised. One area is the sports or arts and music schools. Though these may not be top schools, they could do with a little rebranding. Instead of simply calling them sports or arts schools, call them Gifted Schools for special talents. Their students will then be recognized as talents, or students from Gifted Schools. There could also be schools like Eton or Schools for the Gentry Class to churn out young ladies and gentlemen who can appreciate all the finer things in life instead of boring academic grades. Not everyone needs to work for a living. Creative packaging could mean lesser emigration, less stress and more babies.

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