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Don’t blame the system but work to change it together: Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE – Upset with the pressure-cooker education system here and the obsession with academic grades? Don’t be too quick to “blame the system”, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing said on Friday (Nov 24).

Don’t blame the system but work to change it together: Chan Chun Sing

Minister Chan Chun Sing at the Singapore Children's Society 65th Anniversary Lecture on Friday (Nov 24). Photo: Singapore Children's Society

SINGAPORE – Upset with the pressure-cooker education system here and the obsession with academic grades? Don’t be too quick to “blame the system”, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing said on Friday (Nov 24).

“We (are part of) the system … and we are all collectively responsible (in making these changes together),” he told some 250 people at a dialogue session, urging them to consider the impact of their own decisions.

The minister added: “We can be the agents of change, rather than waiting for the system to change … The choice is entirely ours.”

Citing a personal example, Mr Chan recalled how his daughter had once asked him, when she was in Secondary Two, to explain the chaos theory – a concept he had learnt only in university.

He then asked the audience whether, as a parent, one ought to try to teach the concept or call up the school to demand to know why were they were teaching it and “wasting my child’s time” in secondary school.

How a parent responded to such situations would teach a child a different value, the minister told his audience at the NTUC Centre Auditorium.

The theme of the event, held as part of the Singapore Children’s Society 65th Anniversary Conference, was on redefining success.

Mr Chan urged parents not to measure their child’s abilities through a single yardstick of grades alone or blame them for not getting that top grade because they gave the non-model answer.

Doing so could cause “permanent damage” to a child’s self-confidence and make them feel unworthy, he added.

During the dialogue, the minister was also asked for his views on the long-running debate on whether parents here were sending their children for too many tuition and enrichment classes.

Mr Chan acknowledged that it was important for children to develop diverse skills, but stressed that parents should be “careful not to overplay it”.

On the question of how the younger generation could best succeed, the minister said they should find the motivation to excel through pursuing their passions.

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