8 Things Singapore’s Schools Don’t Teach, That Should Be Taught

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Singapore’s Education System Has Gaps

Some may disagree, but Singapore’s education system does provide a holistic experience for its students. Whether by initiating activities catered to students’ interests or moral education, our curriculum is pretty comprehensive already. But as the saying goes, there is always room for improvement.

There is often talk about how our students are too robotic and monotonous, due to the “copy-paste” nature of our exams. We’re too focused on getting those As that we forget to teach important life skills to our students. And of course, this results in students not being able to cope (or fend for themselves) in the “real world” without needing help from mummy and daddy.

And of course, this results in students not being able to cope (or fend for themselves) in the “real world” without needing help from mummy and daddy.

Teach These 

While still acknowledging the government’s efforts to instil such life skills, evident in the recent addition of cleaning activities for students, we’ve compiled a list of things that should be taught in schools. Take this as a survival guide for after you’ve graduated, if you’d like:

1. Seriously, What Is CPF?

Just 3 letters, but so much controversy around them.

The Central Provident Fund is actually a compulsory savings plan by the government that aims to help Singaporean citizens and permanent residents for their housing, healthcare, and retirement needs.

Once you start working, monthly contributions from your salary are deposited into 3 accounts: ordinary, special and Medisave.

Watch this video for a summary:

Take note kids, when you’re 55 years old and you’ve hit the minimum sum, the excess cash is all yours. And once you’re 65 years old, you’ll be given monthly allowances by the government — unless, of course, the CPF rules change in the meantime.

2. Work Etiquette

“You’ll never know until you try.” Sure, this mantra carries some truth. But hey, it’s always better to be a little prepared before entering the workplace.

A study by Canvas showed that only 7 per cent of current and former Singaporeans believed that they were provided with career-relevant experiences in school, one of which is work etiquette.

Maybe that’s why some students opt for a polytechnic education, which focuses more on application than written examinations.

Still, work etiquette is something that should be more openly taught, not only to aspiring service-sector or business-sector workers.

You may not be aware of this, but there are actually many habits that you may have that are inappropriate for work, such as folding your arms and crossing your legs. Worried yet?

3. Communication Skills

Sure, JC and poly kids have to go through presentations for their graded projects. But having actual conversations with their superiors or new strangers face to face? Not everyone is well-equipped with such skills.

Especially not when young people nowadays are more comfortable communicating with people over apps on their phones.

Oftentimes, this is why oral examinations in primary and secondary schools sometimes feel awkward or forced.

communication work sg

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Courses to improve face-to-face communication should be held in schools, rather than just the current focus on exams.

Since Millennials like to spend so much time online, they should check out this video on communication techniques.

4. Interview Techniques

Communication skills are important at work, but what if you can’t even get a job in the first place because you keep flubbing interviews?

What do you do when you are stricken with nerves in front of stern interviewers?

These tips are rarely taught to us throughout JC, polytechnic or even university, because the overemphasis on grades assumes that good grades will automatically ensure a good job.

Well, the best grades in the world aren’t going to help if you just can’t leave your interviewers with a good impression. Even scholarship applicants need to get past an interview first.

Well, where our education centres fail, luckily we have resources like YouTube to save us.

5. Dating

During our schooling years, most of us were pretty oblivious to the dos and donts of dating.

For example: How do you know when to raise a red flag? When can we trust our gut feelings? If you love someone, does that mean you’re meant to be together? When he holds your hand, does that mean he loves you?

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If we don’t have relationships with our parents where we can tell them anything, things tend to get out of hand for immature youngsters.

That’s where establishing good relationships with our teachers in schools come in handy — after all, teachers have the experience, but wouldn’t be as protective of their children’s chastity as parents would be.

And instead of schools just telling us that dating is not allowed, perhaps some guidance could be provided when the inevitable does happen.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between awkwardly-delivered speeches about dating for the sake of following the curriculum, and actually having meaningful interpersonal conversations with teachers.

In the the meantime, youngsters are just going to rely on sites like Zula to help them out.

6. Effective Sex Education

You’re probably thinking: “Didn’t we learn this in school?”

If you were a biology student, you would’ve had to learn about the various sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that you’d want to avoid.

Other than that, sex education classes tended to be uncomfortable sessions of birth videos and STD symptoms. There never seems to be any substantial curriculum that teaches sex ed in an engaging and effective manner.

Often, it’s left to the respective teachers, which isn’t always effective.

There have also been controversies over sex ed programmes taught in schools, first by the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) and by Christian-affiliated organisations like Focus on the Family. And that means that no one really knows how to handle this sensitive and religiously loaded topic.

Perhaps schools could learn from the Internet, and emulate this creative way to get the message across during sex ed classes:

7. Emergency Situations

We can’t always trust our reflexes or adrenaline during dire situations.; it’s always good to be prepared.

And considering the love-hate relationship that Singaporeans have with the SGSecure app (some love it, many NSFs hate being to download it), it’s clear that proper human guidance is needed.

For example, learning cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be a must for every student out there, not just those in uniformed groups. Who knows, you could potentially save your loved one.

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Emergencies are always unexpected, so we ought to be prepared before it’s too late. Teachers take a hint.

8. EQ > IQ

Ever heard of emotional intelligence? Actually, there are numerous books and services that companies pay for in order to teach their employees the importance of having high EQ.

That begs the question — if it’s so important, why weren’t we taught this from a young age when we were in school? Our relations with our peers pre-graduation were extremely important in shaping us to become the people we are post-graduation and is something that ought to be focused on.

Still don’t get it? Watch the video below to gain more understanding:

Maybe that’s why there has been a rise in depression in our teenagers today, for their schools and parents focus overwhelmingly on academics as compared with managing emotions.

Improving Our Curriculum

No education system is ever truly perfect.

Still, it’s ridiculous to realise that our schools spend too much time on things like science and maths that most people won’t use in their adult lives, unless they become scientists and mathematicians, when they should teach students life skills that will actually help them after they leave school.

For now, we suggest that students who have gaps in their education learning these things on their own, so they can grow up to be truly well-rounded adults.

Featured image from Facebook

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It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don't say it.

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