The purpose of education

The outcomes for the policy change on how students are being graded for the Primary School Leaving Examination do not just depend on the change. They also depend on how parents and educators can change their mindset and behaviour about chasing grades and the most sought-after schools ("As world changes, so must schools"; April 14).

The purpose of education is to raise children to be moral, wise, productive and useful. They will grow up to leverage what they have learnt to contribute to the economy and society, address social injustice and make the world a better place.

To do that, children should develop the joy of lifelong learning and a passion for becoming a responsible citizen and member of the global community.

Research has shown that excessive competition for grades can erode children's commitment to learning and affect desired outcomes of education.

The chase for better academic results can put unnecessary pressures on educators and distract them from the purpose of education, affect their performance and dampen their dedication to the noble profession of producing the next generation of leaders.

By overly focusing on academic assessments, based mainly on content knowledge, parents and educators will not be able to provide a balanced and holistic education.

They may be distracted from helping children develop other vital knowledge, which can help children meet the demands of the new economy and succeed in a fast-changing world.

Such knowledge includes emotional intelligence and the ability to connect, collaborate and co-create solutions on a cross-cultural basis.

It cannot be developed by forging ahead at the expense of others nor by achieving better academic results and not helping peers improve themselves.

What is also unfortunate about overly pursuing grades is that it can prevent parents and educators from helping children develop according to their unique passions, talents and aspirations.

By helping children expand their potential and leverage their strengths, they will be in a better position to optimise their contribution to the people and environment around them.

Parents and educators should be mindful that the reason why children do not do well academically may not be that they have a negative attitude, are not intelligent or are not working hard enough to improve themselves.

By helping children overcome their learning challenges, we ensure that no child is left behind.

In addition, we should do everything possible to help children find different tracks and ways to catch up, improve themselves and find their worthwhile place under the sun

If the children are late developers or have been sidetracked in the education process, they should be able to rejoin the others and achieve the best possible outcomes. They should be able to pursue different careers in their lifetime and make a success out of their chosen path in life.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)