Two incidents just this week caught me thinking.
One happened in the lift when one group of people came in to join us in the lift. We did not know them. Their conversation centred on the boy (perhaps doing his “O” Level) achieving a C6 grade for one subject during an examination. One female adult in the group suggested that the boy should take up tuition to improve on his grade. This seemed to be a solution to address the grade issue.
Second incident happened yesterday while we were on the bus. A mother and a boy (still in primary school) came up and sat behind us. The mother was trying to impress on the boy that his careless mistakes on written examination papers can affect his streaming into a better secondary school. Just a few marks can result in him missing out of entering a better-ranked school. When we alighted from the bus, the mother and boy were walking behind us and the mother continued to talk to the boy about his careless mistakes.
In both cases, the adults were the ones concerned with the academic performances of the children. Despite the efforts by the government to downplay the importance of academic grades of kids, the reality is still that the students with their parents cared a lot about grades.
My fear is that when parents push their kids too hard to perform in examinations, some kids may harbour a sense of worthlessness in them with dire consequences (if they cannot meet their expectations).
Now one can understand why private tuition centres can rake in millions in fee revenues. Private tuition is the key to improving grades as these tuition centres want everyone to believe. This is a case of not wanting to lose out. What is taught in MOE school is not sufficient!
The society has a long way to go when comes to addressing the obsession of academic grades. This has gotten worse from my days in schools when I was young (in the 1960s and 1970s). Private tuition was not rampant during my daughter’s time in schools. Why have we come to this predicament?
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