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Setting high exam standards to blame for heavy bags
Published on: Saturday, January 06, 2018

By Worrier Parent

I WAS not terribly concerned over the perpetual issue of heavy school bags until my little boy started Year 1 last year.

I bought a nice backpack for him. After packing his books in accordance with the timetable provided, he almost toppled backwards when he put the bag on his back!

Parents have been blamed for not packing the books according to the timetable.

School heads have been accused of adding extra books on top of those provided by the Education Ministry.

Has anyone considered the role of the Ministry in this issue? Who sets the examination papers every year?

It is these examination papers that set the standards that every school and parent is trying to meet.

It is these high standards that push schools and parents alike to go the extra mile in pursuit of this academic excellence.

I used to think that as a non-Mandarin speaking parent, I would not be able to help my child with his school work.

I am not alone as other mothers who are fluent in the language are helpless too.

Even professional tutors find the syllabus getting tougher each year. That is why I have no choice but to send him to a centre after school each day for homework guidance.

Now, let us again ask the ministry or the Minister himself – have you taken a look at the syllabus for these young ones who should be enjoying school in their early years instead of being bogged down by homework and tutorials? Think back to the time you were in primary school or perhaps just compare the test papers for Year One (2017) and Year One of 15 to 20 years ago.

In Chinese schools, Mathematics now requires fluency in Mandarin to be able to derive the answer.

If the child’s command of the language is poor, there is a high chance that he would not be able to answer the question. What is wrong with allowing them to understand the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division first before moving to the next level? Let the children grow and learn at a steady pace.

Don’t force or shove everything down their throat. This will not make them instant geniuses.

I strongly believe there is no solution to the heavy school bag problem unless the Education Ministry seriously tackles the source, which in my opinion is the standards it sets for exams. Setting high standards at an early age does not make the child smarter.

My boy leaves home at 7am and returns at 6.30pm. Those who rely on school buses would spend more time away from home.

Worrier Parent

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