The PSLE results were released last week and I have no doubt many 12-year-olds would have aced all subjects for their final exams. The time spent on private tuition and enrichment classes have paid off well.
When the education ministry decided not to publish the names of the highest scorers, the group that’s most affected must be the tuition centres, motivational coaches and health supplement companies. They will all run dry of star students to endorse their services for the coming year. No more posters at bus-stops and full-page advertisements in the local newspapers.
I’m so glad this has happened. The school enrichment business has leverage far too long on the basic education system. Every parent wants the best for their children but to keep feeding them with additional work and lessons doesn’t seem like the best approach for holistic learning.
It’s academic doping if you ask me. In order to keep up the standard, the standards get higher each year. There seems to be no end. The kids are already in a rat race before they fully reached puberty.
What about their job prospects when they graduate in ten years’ time?
The same jobs done by secondary school leavers in the past are now filled by graduates. The jobs that used to require a basic university degree are now filled by people with master degrees.
I don’t think there are fewer jobs today. I think there are just too many university programmes churning too many graduates. As lower-level jobs are taken by higher qualified people, the opportunities for young people to learn on the job become fewer.
Except for specific professions like doctors, lawyers or engineers, the general degree holders are fighting hard with other qualified job-seekers for a respectable job. The young men and women in smart suits outside a bank retail branch pushing credit card brochures are graduates. So are the reception staff at corporate events and the back office executives sorting documents in the same way that filing clerks used to do without going through university.
To justify the qualification with the actual role, organizations are giving job titles that do not bear the same responsibilities a generation ago. Vague titles on business cards with words such as ‘manager’ when there is nothing and no one to manage. Similarly, directors and heads of such and such are growing aplenty.
This undermines the real managers, directors and business heads. The lines between job titles and responsibilities are blurred and so are the lines between academic qualifications and job roles.
Academic inflation in the job market starts from academic doping in the school system. Every generation gets smarter than the previous one. But to channel all the intelligence and talent in the pursuit of academic excellence is a waste of a child’s potential and his/her future contribution to society.
It is time to be reminded that education is a preparation for life, and not just for examinations.