Is Singapore’s education system too stressful?

Me currently being a student, I was just wondering on this hot topic that has been discussed by students and their parents alike; “Is Singapore’s education system too stressful?”

Let’s take a look at the trends of our [Singapore] education system. From the 1960s, our Government determined that Education is the way to go for Singapore, and has heavily invested in the education of the future generation thereafter. And it has paid off or worked, with a resounding success. Singapore boast a highly sophisticated and educated population, with high levels of technology penetration. The poor Singaporeans that used to live in kampongs and ghettos are a scene no more as most Singaporeans in our generation are relatively successful in their careers and have a decent roof [HDB at the very least] on top of their heads. Singapore is one of the Top 10 most wealthiest countries in the world and Singaporeans are highly sought after in all parts of the world today. Throughout the years, many foreigners from different parts of the world have flocked to this island nation to partake of this hugely successful education system which have turned this 3rd world country into a wealthy cosmopolitan city that it is today.

But, if our country is that good, why are people complaining? Why even the parents are complaining that the education system is too stressful? Why are there suicide cases due to stress from studies or from work?

I personally thought that indeed education is true wealth. No matter which part of the world you might be at, if you have that piece of paper, opps I mean certificate or degree (Masters, PHDs, etc.) you will be able to strive in that environment you’re put in and make a living. However, that said, I thought that our education system is on the tipping scale between ‘Education is Good!’ and ‘Too stressful!’.

I have seen friend(s) from local Universities broke down when they found out they’ve failed their exams, read many articles of students (many coming from reputable schools and institutions) doing something silly such as attempting suicides, heard of parents constantly hounding and putting immense pressures on their children to study hard, do well, study hard, do well and study hard, do well! Even my own parents have done such a deed to me.

It is not that I do not agree with the current education system, it is true that with emerging markets from China and India and other parts of Asia, Singapore has to continually step up our game, and we simply can’t let up in our pursuit to product scholars who will in term drive the future economy of Singapore.

But with that said, we need to constantly improve our education system in this fast-paced society and tackle the various problems imposed.

1st of all, parents need to be informed that getting that paper might be important, but the child’s psychological, mental and emotional well-being is also equally important and is not to be neglected. Many a times, parents would provide the dough for the family and that’s all. On many cases – minimal, if not zero interaction between parents and child other than the parent applying pressure to the child to urge him or her to perform well in academic studies. Imposing unwanted negative stress would only cause a strain in parent-child relationship [and we wonder why so many elderly people end up in old folks home] or even cause the child to have emotional unstability and delusions of life itself.

Next, I feel that the curriculum offered to students should be revised to perhaps include modules that would teach students practical skills, life skills and moral principles? Let’s face it, how many of us would really use Geography or Science in the future? (Unless you’re aspired to be a geologist or a scientist) I am not saying that we should just remove those topics altogether but – simple modules such as educating students how to handle stress, leadership or even wealth management can go a long way towards helping the child in the future. Education should not teach students to pit and compete against one another in an all-out arms race to reach the summit of success but Education emcompasses a holistic approach where a child is educated not just in the academics aspect but also in the ethics and moral standards.

Some new initiatives that our Government have introduced which I feel is very impressive are introducing degree courses in institutions that focuses on the Arts such as NAFA and LASALLE. This would cater to students that fall out of the mainstream category. However, I personally feel that there is more our Government or MOE can improve on.

If we are trying so hard to produce all-rounded individuals that are both good in academics and in physique [sports], then perhaps the focus on academics should be less monitored, giving students more room for them to self-discover, to find the balance between work and play. [Since the Government has been pushing for work-life balance] Perhaps assessing a child’s performance can stretch beyond just exams and projects? Suggestions are welcome.

Last but not least, competition is always good because it propels us to increase our standards and all and thereby increase the competitive edge of Singapore as a whole, but we need to come to a realization that if our education system is teaching our kids that – to stay ahead of the game [competition], stepping on top of others is necessary in order to accomplish their goals, then something is wrong here. Eventually, that will only raise up a Singaporean who is self-centred, only thinking of his or her own needs, which we can see some live examples all around us today.

All in all, I thought that the main reason why our students feel so stressed and tired because we simply have to be the best because society is not forgiving to people that fall in second place.

These are just my two cents worth. Thanks for reading!

Yours Sincerely,
Reuel Eugene

This article is presented in the author’s personal views and do not represent views of Singaporeans as a whole. Any part of the article can be used at no charge, but should be credited back to author and tracked back to author.

Revised policies by MOE:


3 thoughts on “Is Singapore’s education system too stressful?

  1. Nice blog, I enjoyed reading your blog about Singapore education system.
    I am a patient and dedicated math tutor offering Individual or Group Tuition.
    Have a nice week ahead.

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