Paper chase

Singapore's school system has been benchmarked in studies as one of the world's top performers. Singapore is also great at promotion education, skills upgrading and continuous learning. However, many people have misunderstood the concept of learning and have instead gone on a paper chase.

Education vs Learning

Education is not the same as learning.
Education is a form of mental training and helps people learn in a structured manner if they are not able to do so on their own.
Learning is about acquiring skills, knowledge and/or understanding.

You can be highly educated but have learnt nothing at all;
You can have no education but have learnt more than someone your age.

Theoretical vs Practical

In some jobs, such as engineering, having a good grasp of theory is imperative. But experienced engineers would tell you that what is done in practice is based on more than just theory.
Some things that can be theoretically possible but practically unadvisable.

Ever had to work with highly educated colleagues who had absolutely no idea how to get the job done? Ever lost a promotion to someone solely because he has higher credentials than you? Ever been bossed around by someone of higher education but doesn't know shit? How about working with highly educated people with no "common sense" (e.g. the NASA pen joke)?

Unfortunately, the Human Resource industry has yet to figure out a way to select or compensate employees. Recruitment, promotions and salaries are based on educational achievements so people really can't be blamed for pursuing paper harder than they pursue knowledge/skills. I, like many people (excluding the professionals like engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc), do not use the information we acquired during our course of education for our jobs now. Most of the skills and knowledge required for the job are usually acquired on the job.

The paper chase is not limited to diplomas and degrees. People want certificates for everything! I'm a cert collector myself. I attended a 2-day course on Negotiation Skills and got a cert for that (my HR department required it). Wow! I got a cert! It proves that I can negotiate!

If I had my way...

If I had my way, I would reduce the number of years of education by eliminating degree programs (except for professionals) so that:
- people can start exploring and practicing their interests sooner rather than spending a minimum of 3 years to obtain a bachelor's degree and still not have the knowledge to do the job,
- we solve the problem of not having enough teachers,
- people don't waste money and their youth,
- people start contributing to the economy earlier,
- people get married sooner once they're saved up enough for marriage,
- infant mortality rate is lowered and there are healthier babies because people have children while they are younger,
- there are more births because education cost is lowered and parents can reap returns on their investment in their children sooner (assuming they take care of their parents).
Oops, I killed the "study mama" industry.


soya1942 said...

I suppose one of the origins of this problems might be that the government is trying to educate as many people as possible in as many things, rather than just those that are interested in learning. (trying to do things that satisfy everyone's need is almost always a failure)Since the working world requires people who can actually "work". A standard is then required. BUT how to differentiate those who actually like the work or do well at the work, and those who are merely there because they have no idea where else to be? Between this two groups of people, i suppose someone(i suspect the latter) suggested a solution which by using piece of paper proving details on past qualifications acknowledge by someone with authority (add long story here)... Which ends up with this rat chase for paper qualifications rather than people searching for what they're actually interested in doing.

Personally, i believe we should have done it the spartan way. Children at the age of 12 provided with basic survival skills are discarded into society. Those who survive survive, those who don't too bad...(evil grins ;D)

Yu-Kym said...

I love your concept! i.e. the long story which you didn't write. Singapore followed global practices but surely SOMEone must have come up with that!

Anonymous said...

This is really good I must say...I keep thinking if everyone has a degree, look for professional job, then whose going to do very technical jobs?? Ah-nas?

Yu-Kym said...

Professional jobs can also be technical. Or you mean the hands-on jobs?