Singapore Prime Minister National Day Rally: Thoughts on Education

Everyone has their own ideas of education, how the system should work, to make it fair and open to everyone, and so on. This post is not a comment on the PM’s national day rally (NDR) itself.

The biggest thing that keeps coming back to me is the idea of success. Of how parents and children all want to do well, to keep going UP. UPWARDS. The idea of going to the best schools, of having the highest scores. The PM announced small measures that will be introduced  to help stop the rising tide of elitism -the idea that high grades is a good marker of success.

It then made me think of what I had written in my previous post regarding how there is a dilemma between personal identity (cultural, racial, etc) and Christian identity. It also reminded me of my own struggles while growing up in the insanity of the Singaporean education system (not as insane as China, but still insane). It made me think a little about how huge a priority education is to Singaporeans, and the absolute lengths that parents and children might go through to be number one.

We know where we have come from based on our own histories, but do we know where we are going? What really is the point of merely doing better and better, and indeed to be the best? I am not saying that to seek success is wrong. It is a good thing to want to better oneself rather than being lazy. I meant.. what is the point of being better? Why do we want to have better lives for ourselves aside from comfort and happiness? (Though I am not saying we should actively seek hardships and misfortune) What indeed, is the purpose of our life? Where are we really going? Where do we think we are going? Like Paul said, if this life is all there is, then by all means, do as we please… BUT –

As Christians, we know that this life is not all there is. Therefore, we must bear in mind how this has an affect on how we live today and for the future. In the area of education – where (what school) do we study? How much does it matter to us that we or our children might end up in schools that are not in the top 5? How much do we study (how do we divide our time)? How do we consider success and work for it, striking a balance between working hard, and not making study/work our idol? As it stands, many societies do not have this priority – that is to live for God. We are not merely planning to better ourselves and our children. We are planning to make it to Eternity to be truly at peace with our Creator and Father.

This year’s NDR has prompted me to think more about how to view success. It is also a great indication of where the world’s desires and priorities lie. Being a Christian in a world of temptation to follow our earthly passions is always going to be difficult. My mother who has lived and worked in an intensely competitive sector (Law), her entire life, constantly worries about my personal financial stability and success. I know she wants me to work hard and not be lazy; she wants me to succeed. She doesn’t just want a successful career for me, she also wants me to be a good person. I wish that she wanted me to be a Christian who would run the race to the finish, multiple degrees or not. Maybe in time this will change. As long as she makes it to the end as well, that the best that anyone can have,. If I ever become a parent, I hope to be one that considers godliness above worldiness; particularly as the pressure will inevitably rise.

In some ways, I feel very isolated by this idea. The more I thought about the pursuit of godliness – the potential prospect of sacrificing worldly success, acclaim, and comfort.. particularly to the disapproval of my elders.. the more isolated I feel. The more I think – how am I going to do this? Please pray for us all as a nation that as our leaders continue to seek the good of the people, that they might turn to Christ and that they will guide the country as godly men and women. I do not understand how politics works. I cannot even pretend to know how the economy and financial stuff works. But I still hope that our leaders will turn to Christ and lead the country accordingly. I also hope to be able to remember that making it to the New Creation remains my topmost priority. And God willing, to be able to go with many others. Let’s support each other in this endeavour.

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