Friday, September 23, 2011

The new educational focus on values and character - a long overdue initiative

It was certainly refreshing to read of the new Education Minister Heng Swee Keat's take on the future strategic educational mission. Apparently the new mission will focus on values and character.

Great stuff! I hope this is not one of those empty promises that serve no other purpose than to look good in annual reports and glossy brochures.

For too long our educational system had fostered this mindless ultracompetitiveness to excel academically. It seemed like all that mattered was getting those As and distinctions. Those that couldn't fell by the wayside, as did the noble values of respect, integrity, discipline and selflessness. We have seen this precipitous moral erosion among the undergraduate and medical student population. It seemed clear to many that this decline in values among the university student population was largely due values and behaviours inculcated during the preceding 12 years of schooling. Many have been dismayed by the apparent lack of concern shown by the school and ministry leaders,many of whom were clearly motivated by chasing after those elusive academic KPIs.

Fancy pedagological approaches such as 'student centred learning' and 'the student as the customer' became cliched excuses for spoiling students and fostering negative student attitudes and behaviour.

So Minister Heng's position is to be applauded. Not only is it timely, but in my opinion, long overdue. But it is a difficult task and there will be many who will resist him. I certainly wish him and his Ministry well, and will certainly go all out to support his initiatives. We have too much to lose if he does not succeed.

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