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The first aim of education 20 August , 2007

Posted by eugene in 1 Respect Life & Renew Bond.
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Singapore’s education system has improved over the years with the commitment from the government. One aspect that needs more emphasis is the respect for life.

After watching Prime Minister Lee’s National Day Rally speech, what stuck in my mind was not the increase in CPF interest rates, nor was it the Home Improvement Programme or Punggol 21-plus. The image that lingered in my mind was the part when PM Lee got emotional and was trying hard not to drop tears when speaking about education. More precisely, he was recalling an email by MP Seng Han Thong on Mayflower Primary School, their can-do and never-say-die spirit, the students who performed confidently on stage, and their proud parents and grandparents.

His voice was wavering but he said it with his heart, “Whichever school you go to, whatever home background you come from, we will help you develop your talents to the fullest.” To some Singaporeans, this might be insignificant or forgettable but to someone who has benefited from the education system, this promise from a leader is welcoming and reassuring. A leader who strongly believes in the power of education is a good leader.

With the commitment from the government, our education system will enable more young people to develop their talents. I must admit that the education system is not perfect but has improved over the years. Besides the emphasis on developing talents, there is something important that I think should be highlighted in our education system. It is based on what Norman Cousin said: “The first aim of education should not be to prepare young people for careers, but to enable them to develop a respect for life.”

Although the education system is focused on developing talents for young people to advance in their careers, more time should be spent on helping them develop a respect for life. Developing respect means recognising and remembering that all living things, including humans, nature and its biodiversity, have a right to live on this planet and a purpose in life. We should treat all living things as part of us and do no harm to them. Let us not forget that humans are only one species out of millions of species that live on this Earth. And understand that we all share this planet and respect for each other is the only way for survival. Without that respect for life, a person with talents will not hesitate to harm fellow humans or other biodiversity. A person who strongly believes in the respect for life is a good person.

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