Education is central to the growth of an individual. Unfortunately, in Singapore, getting a good education if often confused with being book or exam-smart.
Yet, there is more to education than just excelling in exams. It is also about equipping yourselves with the right values, attitudes, skills, and ethics.
Is the Ministry imbibed with the right values and are Singapore students inculcated with values such as being empathetic to those less fortunate?
Sharing on his personal Facebook profile, local activist and former opposition politician, Gilbert Goh, revealed how a pair of twins were informed by MOE that their 'O' level results may be withheld if they do not pay their outstanding school fees.
The twins come from a single-parent family. Due to some administrative requirements which they were not able to complete because of their missing father, their requests for financial assistance could not be processed.
Nevertheless, their worries can now be put at ease. Their outstanding fees have been paid for in full by two anonymous donors.
While acknowledging that MOE tries to assist needy students, Goh pointed out that those who fall through the cracks should be handled with more tact and empathy.
We hope that MOE will look at students who can't pay their school fees with empathy regardless of the reasons and withholding someone's school exam certificate is not the way to go in building a caring and compassionate society. On the contrary, it builds up hatred and vengeance within our youth and stigmatized them for life because they are poor and could not gain access to welfare schemes due to their unusual circumstances.
Living in the world's costliest city has its implications and many sandwiched families - especially those from the lower middle income are caught up with the endless spiral of having to pay for a vast catalogue of bills.
Many pay certain critical bills first and in the process owe some others hoping to balance their check book monthly against all odds in order to keep the family afloat.
Gilbert's observation and exhortations are spot on.
Our economy is one of the most competitive in the world. This competition comes at a price to those from the lower income families. There are trade-offs - there are other more important things that they need to prioritise.
Such families need to be asked how they can be helped. An impersonal letter with an ominous warning does not make one feel helped or welcomed.
The move towards a less results-based education system is a step in the right direction.
MOE can do more to educate students with the right values that will benefit them thoughout their whole lives.