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    Five-day week for schools

 

Give our young less stress at school

"...Grades have become all too important in Singapore and schools may have become pressure-cooker centres unwittingly.

"Some children may bask in such situations. Others may not know how to handle the stress. In their minds, they are still young and being young meant being free to play around. Hitting the books is the last thing in their minds.
"Then, there are those who do not have the grey matter to keep up with the rigorous learning programme..."

More

 

Excerpt of letter by Kesavan Sam Prasad to Straits Times Forum page on 27 Aug 2004

"On education, I would suggest that we further challenge the Ministry of Education to ban weekend homework and Saturday CCAs altogether.

"What's the point of having a five-day week for civil servants and many in the private sector when their children will have to spend weekends doing homework or CCAs and parents have to set aside weekend time to assist them with their work?..."

 

Excerpt of letter by Liu Yichen to Straits Times Forum page on 3 Sep 2004

"...Many students will probably rejoice at the idea of having more time to play during the weekend. As a student myself, the suggestion does seem tempting.

"However, I don't think the banning of weekend homework would be a good idea. Over the long term, how would this work out?
"Secondary students have to study at least six academic subjects. The average number of hours of homework per week is about 15 hours. Even with a reduction of curriculum, the homework would still amount to about 10 hours.

"Spread that over five days, and you get two hours of work each day. During exam periods, teachers would probably give more revision exercises. This would mean an even larger amount of work per day...

"A student, already tired out from a day of school and CCAs, would long to be able to sit down, relax, and watch some TV, but nope, it's time for homework.

"The student would likely finish his homework at about 10pm, leaving no time to revise what he learnt that day if he wished to sleep at a decent time...

"If there is a ban on weekend homework, teachers will set tighter and tighter deadlines and students would have a harder and harder time catching up with weekday work. Stress would build up to an unbearable level.

"Leave the weekend as it is, and you will be saving students from a lot of breakdowns later on!"

 

Excerpt of letter by Michael Warren Lim to Straits Times Forum page on 3 Sep 2004

"...I am a secondary student studying in an independent school, and I feel that this plan (five-day week) should not be extended to schools.

"Right now, most of the students in my school have heavy co-curricular activities (CCA) commitments, alongside other responsibilities, such as school work and projects.

"Most, if not all, of our weekdays are already taken up by numerous lessons and classes, leaving only weekends for CCA...

"Imposing a five-day week and prohibiting school activities on weekends will mean that those CCA training sessions or lessons originally scheduled on weekends will have to be crammed into the weekdays for us to achieve the same level of competency, usually at the expense of other commitments.

"While it is uncertain that we will be able to manage with such a denser schedule, it is certain that standards will decline across the board..."

 

Excerpt of letter by K Malathy (Mdm) to Straits Times Forum page on 13 Sep 2004

"...Life does seem to be one steady, sorry grind of organised activity and homework for these young people. The sad thing is they don't want it to be changed.

"In my family, all of us get to sleep in late over the weekend. We have a leisurely breakfast and do other lazy family things.
"All of us, that is, except my elder boy who gets up at 6am even on Saturday, because of CCAs. With the recent implementation of the five-day week, we hope he will get to enjoy weekends with the rest of the family.

"Students need time to be thinking, reflective learners, and also to sometimes just 'hang loose'. I really hope schools will heed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call and adopt a five-day work week.

"Please do reduce homework, and cut school demands and commitments to reasonable levels.

"Please incorporate CCAs into curriculum time - the quality of CCAs will not be compromised..."

 

Excerpt of letter by Peter Ho Shau Hui to Straits Times Forum page on 13 Sep 2004

"...We have really indoctrinated them with a sense that the current school curriculum must be fulfilled, despite the changes proposed by PM Lee.

"Finally, the Government has realised that in the world of today and that of the future, what counts will be how creative one is and not how 'learned' (facts stuffed into our children's heads).
"The proposals were sweeping and I really fear our population has yet to catch on with the changes in the world. Several years ago, an effort was made to reduce the school curriculum, but nothing much happened.

"So long as the way we measure our schools - key performance indicators (KPIs) - remains the same, not much will change. We need to change school KPIs in order to change...

"Our school system has been one of the main bugbears of so-called 'quitters' who emigrate.

"Recently, two friends decided to emigrate to Australia for more wholesome education of their children and better family life.

"What is the use of the Government giving incentives to the population to procreate, when they simply uproot and leave when their children reach schooling age? It is one step forward and one step back!

"Parents have children so they can enjoy the heavenly feeling of having children. So please give us time to enjoy our children and give them time to be real children, not just examination-centric kids. They grow up too quickly anyway."

 

Excerpt of letter by Jiang Ke-Yue to Straits Times Forum page on 13 Sep 2004

"...In its circular, the MOE allows schools to run 'student-initiated activities' on Saturdays without approval from the Schools Division. This measure is motivated by concern to develop a diverse education system.

"In contrast, and consistent with the move towards a five-day week, the MOE says schools should avoid organising 'school-initiated activities' on Saturdays. They should not simply shift Saturday activities to weekdays but review their programmes and 'concentrate on activities related to their niche areas'...
"While schools should not simply shift Saturday activities to weekdays in order to implement a five-day week, culling 'non-niche' co-curricular activities (CCAs) from the school curriculum is not the better solution.

"In a diverse education system, learning does not end when the school bell rings. Learning is not restricted by the classroom environment or the school syllabus. In the pursuit of learning, sacrifice of time - even family time - may be necessary.

"This may mean odd hours in the laboratory on a Saturday, or entire weekends spent building confidence, instilling ruggedness and developing leadership through programmes offered by uniformed groups..."