While our society needs people of diversified skills and talents, our education system strive for uniformity – the pursuit of academic excellence and degrees.
Bureaucracy needs to see instant measurable result.
While every education institution proclaims the higher goal of education as the development of virtue, intellect, physique, sociability, and aesthetic, in practice, only intellectual skill is being emphasized. This is because education has become institutionalized and bureaucratized. In a bureaucratic system, achievement needs to be measured and quantified. Intellectual skill is the easiest to measure and quantify.
Unfortunately, even in our development of academic skills there is a lack of intellectual content – wisdom. Our education system has become examination orientated. Educational bureaucrats are busy in setting administrative guidelines, packing course curriculum for schools, teachers and students leave little room for contemplation and independent thinking. Our students acquire lots of knowledge, score high in international tests, become good examination machines, but totally lack the ability to solve problems independently.
Make learning a lifetime pursuit.: Education should be open and ongoing.
Legalize home schooling
Return the sovereignty of education back to where it makes the most difference – home. It does not mean that many families will start home schooling their children, even though many families are already doing so through tutoring and special classes after school. Studies show that home schooled children perform better academically and socially. The idea that educating your own children at home is illegal is ludicrous.
Voucher system for basic education from kindergarten to high school
First, return the sovereignty of education back to the parents and students. Let the parents and students decide how learning should take place, at what pace, in what depth learning should take place according to individual ability and readiness instead of forcing every student to fit into a set pattern of performance prescribed by bureaucrats.
When parents and students become the real employer, and not the education bureaucrats, teachers will need to spend more effort in developing different teaching methods, based on their own experience and skill, to fit different types of students. This encourages diversity. The better teachers will gain more students, and hence more voucher subsidies. Since the parents and students are the real customers spending their own money, they will tend to be more careful in ing what kinds of teaching methods are best for themselves, encouraging excellence in teaching.
The manpower in the Education Department can be fully utilized to help students and schools collect and evaluate educational materials from all over the world and offer guidance to different schools, families and students. Some bench mark tests in language and mathematics can also be set up to help evaluating the progress of individual students at their own pace.
Easy to get in but hard to get out
University should not be a head count or a diploma mill. While everyone should be given a chance to experience university-level education, the high standards must be maintained. How often are students graduated without the requisite skills and find themselves having to do more remedial courses later on? This results in a waste of time and money, and disappoints many employers.
Higher loan rather than full subsidy
We are already spending 1/4 of our government expenditure on education and we are far from reaching the goal of having a substantial number of high school graduates entering university. Whether or not such a number is meaningful, the fact is the budget is always limited because of our heavy subsidy. A truly educated person should at least be able to manage their finances well enough to pay off their student loans in their lifetime. This will enable more students to experience university education if they so desire. Again, only those who have to ability to pay will pay back.
The loan and subsidy should apply to higher education aboard.