Quality education must also focus on the 'heart'

Every country wants to nurture its young to be better prepared to face the future (Why well-being of the young matters; Aug 31).

This is the reason for the emphasis on quality education and on the need for the young to learn to keep pace with advancements in technology.

However, these pursuits can have a negative effect if they are not combined with an equal emphasis on nurturing the "heart" - the character and the moral fibre of the young individuals.

Education without this balance may cause us to end up with more intelligent criminals and individuals who are able to harness their knowledge to do more harm than good to society.

The reports that our students are among the most stressed in the world and that the number of suicides among the young has increased are rather alarming.

No matter how we try to explain these issues away, we cannot escape the conclusion that something is drastically wrong.

It is certainly correct to try to improve the quality of our pre-school education and to help the young to be ready to meet the future.

The concern is whether this will produce more stress in the young at an earlier age and whether many more may fall out of the system.

It is one thing to have more trained pre-school teachers; it is another thing to have more teachers who are able to transmit moral values and cultivate the heart, and not just the mind.

It is also conceivable that many more parents, with the intention of helping their children keep up with their peers, will pile on more stress and demands on the very young.

Knowledge can be gathered as the child grows, but character, humility and compassion have to be transmitted from the beginning in the home and consolidated in schools and the community.

They cannot be learnt just through prepared lessons; they have to be imbibed and assimilated from those who have the capacity and the ability to transmit them. Otherwise, the well-being of our young will be compromised.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2017, with the headline 'Quality education must also focus on the 'heart''. Print Edition | Subscribe