Monday, 17 September 2012

Forum Letter 2: What doing away with banding means...

The original letter:

Dear Editor:

I welcome MOE's decision to do away with banding and encourage schools to find their niche areas. No doubt schools that already have their niche will be celebrating (like Chinese orchestra, choir, etc), but I hope they use this opportunity to expand beyond their comfort zone. Lest parents think academic results will slide, they should be glad that their kids will perhaps learn in a less drilled and robotic fashion. Hopefully, gone will be the days when kids come home with 50 problem sums to drill over (happened to my neighbour's kid). A child must learn and grade a pass, but let's hope they can now learn better AND enjoy a more eventful school life. Even academic societies in schools can get a boost (like the Math/Science club, etc). It's about moving away from "a field of daisies" to allow more sunflowers to sprout and stand tall!

Still, I wonder how many know how to leverage on such a momentous decision. When the sole focus on academic achievements go, schools, parents, communities and interest groups can now sit down and explore how to tap on each other's expertise and network. This has been the problem with our communities thus far, the oft-complaint that "we shut our doors and ignore our neighbours," rings true. If we have been ignoring our neighbours what more to say of our children needs in the community? For example, how does a Sembawang kid differ from one in Tiong Bahru? In the past, the distinction had been "ulu" vs "city". In the future, I hope kids, given more time to explore other areas, can claim to know his community/neighbourhood well. That he/she was acknowledged by his communal folks as someone who could write, photograph, cook, paint, etc. in the most prodigal manner. Or even grow up to be a brilliant soldier ("Oh yes, we all know him since young to be an excellent NCC cadet back in school!") Schools across a community can even work better together to showcase and share what they are trying to do instead of competing with one another. They can now be brother-in-arms. We have seen many instances of schools and kids in the U.S. prospering once communities get involved. Singapore is a microcosm by itself; we have no excuse for not doing better.

Voiding banding will liberate schools. It will liberate even more, and it is something we should discuss further in our National Conversation.

TC Lai

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