Pull down fences that limit our kids

I applaud MP Denise Phua for speaking out on something I feel keenly about ("3 unhealthy trends plaguing education: Denise Phua"; last Thursday).

While meritocracy is a social leveller for many, it also sieves out the less academically inclined at an early age.

The streaming of students can have the effect of being limiting and self-fulfilling.

It is easy to overlook the less academically inclined, because there are fewer Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) students in most schools.

They are easily sidelined, as they contribute less to the glory of a school, in terms of passing rates and medals.

But with a small population in Singapore, every child has potential.

In this new economy, we need innovators and risk-takers who are adaptable to change.

A cookie-cutter approach will not churn out such workers.

Sticking labels on children prematurely does not augur well for inclusivity.

The focus on results has galvanised educators, parents and students into overdrive, creating a behemoth supplementary industry called tuition.

School hours are also long, making learning - and, perhaps, teaching as well - arduous and dull.

We should give our young the space to be. Let them relish in their play and imagination.

But first, we must pull down the many perimeter fences, and mental fences, to let our children enjoy open and wide spaces once more.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2016, with the headline 'Pull down fences that limit our kids'. Print Edition | Subscribe