06 June 2006

Privilege: Good Vs Evil

Following yesterday's post on Children's Day in Spitland, I took this picture while I was in the playground. This picture may not tell you any story at first glance but perhaps let me share with you my thoughts at the very moment that prompted me to take this photo.

This is a picture of the local folks looking into the school's playground. A school where it sets me back by RMB 10,000 per semester (2 semesters per year) just for Faith alone. Imagine when Gabe comes of pre-school age....

It breaks my heart to see a kid on the other side of the fence and I asked myself this question.

Are they the under-privileged ones or are we just being over-privileged?

In a world of haves-vs-have-nots, I think parents giving the best to their kids is getting a bit out of hand. Guess what? We, the parents, are stupidly being fleeced by all these new age fandangos that were virtually unheard of, a couple of decades ago. Things like Montessori, Shicida and some other "enrichment" classes that can run up to as much as S$500 per month per child.

What if you can't afford? Then how?

Granted that one may argue that you can't put a price tag on the well-being of your child but there are times when don't have the money to afford it means don't have the money to afford it. Will "these kids" grow up to be lesser of a person?

While not trying to sound overly negative, we are unfortunately bound by the "What If" element.

What if these classes do significantly better your child? Would you have sabo-ed your child by not investing?

It is a competitive world out there and parents, whether they admit it or not, will somehow compare each other's kids in the hope that their offspring would come out on top. Hence, as much as we grudge about the high costs of a child's education, we still end up obediently forking out the dollars.

I did toy with the idea of sending my kids to local school like every other Ch1nese kids but having seen their standard first-hand, I would have to put my foot down and say No. The Singapore education system, while not perfect, is far superior that the local options and I cannot accept anything less than that.

Let me give you a real life example (names have been changed).

Luke, eldest son of a Hong Kong friend of mine, followed me back to Singapore a few years ago to go visit our schools. My friend's intention was to send Luke to Singapore to continue his education and my friend himself also concede that HK's education system really "cannot make it". I brought him to meet up with one of the schools' principal and Luke was given a test to assess his current standard in order to establish a recommendation of which year for Luke to join, in the coming year.

The results showed that Luke should start at Primary 5.

Problem is, Luke was 16 years old.

Luke's brother, Dean, was a better candidate to send to Singapore for Dean is much younger at the age of 11. Assessment revealed that he should start at Primary 3 even though had he stayed on in Hong Kong, he would have gone on to Primary 5. Still, going back by 2 years isn't exactly a big problem since he would have caught up with the local Singapore boys by the time they reach University and Dean can get back on par since Dean doesn't need to do the 2 years of National Service.

Here's a funny story. So it was decided that Luke should stay on in Hong Kong while Dean come to Singapore to study. Dean enjoyed his first day of school very much and was all excited to come home to tell everybody about his first day. The first thing that he said, while beaming with pride, "I am the tallest in class!"


- Voxeros

1. mht left...
Tuesday, 6 June 2006 4:17 pm
kids these days have no childhood.

2. airhole left...
Tuesday, 6 June 2006 4:28 pm
you know, ppl are aware of this.. but the severity of the situation puts a chill down my spinal cord all the way to my ass...

3. aloe left...
Tuesday, 6 June 2006 5:49 pm
Ooooo... that's what happened to a TW family I know. All the kids were "downgraded" cos of their English standard but they were asked to take higher chinese. haaa!

The bad thing is.. even though they know they have poor english, they still refuse to speak English to us to brush it up.... biang...

4. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 6 June 2006 8:15 pm ::
mht: Yah. You don't see scraped knees on kids these days.

airhole: People may be aware but it seems like there is no feasible way to resolve it and so we are all kinda like lambs for the slaughter.

Anna: At least the TW kids have a good Ch1nese standard to get bye. HK kids, being native cantonese speakers, have neither.

5. Pam left...
Tuesday, 6 June 2006 10:13 pm
i think you need to consider what's best for your child in the given environment. What you're willing to compromise on, may not be what other parents are willing to sacrifice.

D and i were just saying that when/if we have children and we stil live here, we already know which primary school we want to send the kid to - and it's not just because it's catholic, but more importantly the values of that particular school are v similar to the ones that we hold. hopefully the assumption is that the families who send their children to the same school hold similar values.

it is completely unbelievable the sorts of kids we have nowadays roaming the streets!

6. sunflower left...
Wednesday, 7 June 2006 9:19 am
Jay, I take this topic seriously but I can't help but very much wanted to tell you, your RM10K is not even half a peanut.
@.@ (*faint*)

7. akk left...
Wednesday, 7 June 2006 10:22 am
in ch1na, it's alot of peanuts liao.

My childhood consists of staying with my granny and playing all day with my neighbours. my parents, weren't too worried or to give us more lessons which they think is a waste of money (ballet, violin, piano etc). they got us swimming and survival skills though. Best time of my life.

Unless we truly begged them for these extra-curricular activities, we don't get them, although my parents can certainly afford it. I'm glad my mum never made me learn e piano, which was the fashion in our times. i have more time to read, write and draw. i had to beg for paints and trips to the library and this made me relish what i do.

investing is not all money. investing can be time and play and parental education. money can buy a lot of extra activities to buff up a child's day. but if she just go thru the whole fiasco without knowing what these activities are for and whether she truly liked them, it'll not be a very memorable childhood. and also, not having to have to fight for something and be given everything? how i use to envy my frens last time, who seemed so accomplished, but my parents did the right thing.

8. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 7 June 2006 11:42 am ::
Pam: I do recall encountering the so-called brats when I was a kid but none as blatant as the brats of today.

Sunflower: Care to expand on this?

Akk: Truckloads of peanuts relative to the local Joe Average.

On another note, kids these days should play more in the sun rather then locked up in their air-con rooms revolving their lives around the x-boxes. The sun and fresh air are free one leh.

9. sunflower left...
Wednesday, 7 June 2006 1:06 pm
10k per semester, 20K per year convert to sg using 5 as exchange rate worked out to be SGD4k. If you send your child to Montessori, Shicida and some other "enrichment" classes in sg, I bet you pay even more.

I agreed kid should go under the sun, but hor, nowsaday, a lot of parents oso never go under the sun, like tat how har?

10. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 7 June 2006 10:10 pm :: 
Sunflower: You sure it's 4K? You wanna use a calculator to double-check? :P

11. slurp! left...
Tuesday, 13 June 2006 12:09 am ::
omg, does this even looks like a school? perhaps disneyland for pre-schoolers :P

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