Friday, November 30, 2007

MOE’s Latest Alumnus

I agree in principle (pardon the pun) with Rana’s assessment that “on the whole, Singapore has done well with Tharman Shanmugaratnam as education minister."

However, I couldn’t help but feel bothered by his emphasis on Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs) as the only marker of success. To be fair to Rana, he qualified that falling University rankings and the ability (or lack thereof) to attract top colleges here, did not reflect too badly on Tharman’s tenure.

And to be fairer to Rana, who the hell assigned me to mark his work? But surely the report card of our education system can’t possibly be assessed with the grading of a single subject (I promise the puns stop here).

I myself am an unfortunate product of an inflexible education system, so I have many grievances with the system I grew up with. However, I do like the direction Tharman has taken, especially with regards to the primary and secondary levels – the very foundations for our grey matter development.

Of course, I pity the parents caught in the middle of all the education policy changes (and all the new textbooks to buy and dump). But our children will ultimately be the beneficiaries of the new flexibility that has been injected into the system. I shan’t go through the changes that have been made as many before me have already done an extensive review. The best examples are here and here.

But my interest lies elsewhere. When news broke of Tharman’s imminent relinquishment of his Education Minister post to take up the Finance Minister role he was so obviously groomed for, my first thought was not on his contributions to the education system. I see this portfolio change as a sign of more things to come....

Dare I say it? Prime Minister Tharman anyone?

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