Education in Singapore: Parents, are you doing your part?

Daniel Wong thinks that apart from schools, parents and community play a role in a child's education too. (Getty Images)
Daniel Wong thinks that apart from schools, parents and community play a role in a child's education too. (Getty Images)

I've recently been describing ways to improve the school system, but I don't mean that education should only happen in schools.

Schools have some responsibility for a student's education, but other parties have a part to play, too. The crucial role of the family and the community cannot be ignored.

As an education excellence coach and speaker, I work with students to guide them through the difficulties they face in their academic journey. I also have many opportunities to interact with parents.

Can education be outsourced?

I've observed that a startling number of parents believe that education can be outsourced entirely.

These parents assume that if they pay enough in school fees (and complain angrily enough), they're entitled to transfer all the responsibility of educating their child to the school and its teachers.

It isn't just wrong to have this kind of attitude; it's downright dangerous.

Schools simply aren't equipped to take care of every aspect of a student's development.

Teachers already have so many lesson plans to prepare, so much grading to do, and so many administrative tasks to take care of.

Moreover, they teach such a large number of students.

Great job, educators

I regularly say this in my writing, but I feel like it can't be overdone:

All of you educators out there do amazing, life-changing work. I hope you're reminded, every day, of what a noble calling it is to teach. I have the utmost respect for you.

Teachers are doing the best they can in schools. Parents need to do the best they can at home.

Here's a list of some things that every child should learn:

  • How to handle your personal finances

  • How to be a team player

  • How to make sound decisions

  • How to be an ethical person

  • How to control your temper

  • How to get along with others

  • How to have good manners

  • How to be self-disciplined

This list clearly isn't exhaustive.

I'm sure you'll agree with me that these skills ought to be taught over the course of a child's education.

The home and the community, as opposed to the school, are more conducive environments to train a child in these areas.

The role that parents have in educating their children

As such, parents cannot—and must not—shirk the responsibility of educating their children.

To you parents reading this: Are you an excellent role model for your child? Do you show respect and honour for everyone you interact with, regardless of their social status? Are you always in control of your emotions? Do you display high standards of integrity?

I'm not a parent myself, so I know that I'm not in any position to lecture parents on how they ought to bring up their children. But I do know that parents deeply influence their children's attitudes toward learning and life.

All of us have a part to play in mentoring and shaping the next generation. This is too enormous a task for schools to handle on their own.

It takes a village to raise a child

After I wrote this article about things they should teach you in school, I received this insightful comment from an educator:

"While I do not dispute the important role that schools play, I believe that there should be a more holistic and community-based approach to educating the whole child. Schools cannot be seen as the panacea or as the only place where educative experiences occur.

There's an African proverb that says, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' I believe this to be true. Perhaps we should move from a position of standing on the sidelines and 'prescribing' to schools what they should be doing, to a position where we are working together to raise the child."

When we're whining, we're not winning

As Singaporeans, we tend to do a lot of standing on the sidelines and "prescribing" to the government how they should fix the situation.

In fact, more often than not, we simply stand on the sidelines and complain, without offering any solutions at all.

I've heard it said that opposing everything without proposing anything is irresponsible. When it comes to education—or any other sector, really—let's take responsibility for being the change that we want to see.

No more pointing fingers, no more whining.

Education matters because lives are at stake. Lives are on the line.

So let's work together to build a better education system, a better country, and a better future.

Daniel Wong is a learning and personal development expert, as well as a certified youth counselor. A sought-after speaker and coach, he is also the best-selling author of "The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success". He offers programmes to help students attain exam excellence while also finding happiness and fulfillment, and to empower parents to motivate their unmotivated teenagers. He writes regularly at Download his FREE e-books, "The Unhappiness Manifesto: Do You Make These 150 Mistakes In The Pursuit Of Happiness?" and "Singapore Scholarship Guide: The $500,000 Decision". The views expressed are his own.