An ‘epidemic of educational poverty’. A ‘hidden epidemic of racism in UK schools’.
Currently, the UK’s education system is facing many obstacles, including that of systemic indoctrination.
It has often been said that the national curriculum teaches students what to think, rather than how to think. The education system has created barriers, impediments that students are forced to climb over once they are of school-leaving age. For decades, UK academia has produced duplicates, rather than free thinkers. A human factory promoting standardisation.
How have we created cohorts of workers, instead of entrepreneurs? The confines of the curriculum are highlighted once students are in employment; companies desire pliable staff who haven’t been indoctrinated by further education. This explains why less are choosing the university route.
There is now a greater focus on analytical skills and critical thinking, but is it too late? Surely the education system should foster curiosity and ‘thinking outside the box’ in one’s formative years, so we can make entrepreneurship the standard – not employment. Michael Gove reformed A Level and GCSE exams in order to ‘restore public confidence’, but allowed no time for adaptation and left many students and education facilities in the dark.
Education should be a progressive system which develops human capital, intrinsically benefitting future generations. By overcoming those boundaries, the forthcoming workforce may be able to solve fundamental issues that still occur. A nation of free thinkers means free thinkers in politics, which may finally result in change. The Sutton Trust found in 2019 that 64% of Boris Johnson’s cabinet were privately educated, and only 6% of Conservative MPs are BAME, meaning the social and economic responsibility of the UK is in the hands of the white upper class.
According to the Financial Times, Singapore ‘waged war’ on COVID-19. In comparison, the UK government confused the public and ignored other country’s efficacy and strategy. The difference is that Singapore cultivates the brightest students and encourages them to work as civil servants. The UK government, however, has a hive of WASPs in influential positions.
Expected change is precarious when only five Conservative MPs backed Labour’s campaign to end child hunger during a pandemic.
Johnson needs innovative thinking and different perspectives in parliament, instead of years-old methods that do not apply to adverse situations like COVID-19.
In 2018, the UK government spent approximately £27.4bn on education, accounting for two-thirds of expenditure on education and services for young people. In the same year, Singapore allocated just $13.09bn for education. However, the average Singaporean is ‘10 months ahead in English and 20 in Maths’ of students in other first-world countries. Exams are not even introduced until secondary school. The government in Singapore has adopted a successful ‘teach less, learn more’ strategy to encourage self-learning and reduce the stress of scores, exams, and ranks.
A streamlined approach which parallels international competition should be adopted by the UK. Otherwise, the government is facing a big opportunity cost.
Instead of promoting standardisation, the UK should encourage individuals to work in roles that empower them, and which benefit society, like the civil service.
The cohorts of well-rounded and curious people are examples that Singapore’s ecosystem of learning is a benchmark for other countries.