Unlike Amy Chua the Tiger Mom, Singapore mothers were rued by the schools who are holding back Primary 3 and 4 students for supplementary lessons. Which means 9 and 10 year olds could be held hostage from 7.30 am until 4.00 pm for up to 4 to 5 days a week. At this rate, even if parents want to have kids, the kids will refuse to be born.
The obvious question was "Why aren't the 6 hours adequate to cover the syllabus?" If St Gabriel Primary was truthful in explaining that the additional lessons were part and parcel of the school curriculum, then MOE needs to review the curriculum. And someone needs to review the geniuses at MOE. As expected, MOE quickly and conveniently absolves itself of responsibility: "Schools have the autonomy to decide on supplementary classes depending on the learning of their pupils". Which begs another question: Why are the principals so keen to have teachers stretch the contact schedule if MOE's requirements about learning can met without the extra hours? Don't they have a life too?
The only folks not fazed by the detention are those who have no time for the young ones in the first place, like the business executive and his working wife who think of the extra periods as free daycare. After all, preschools like Charis Montessori kindergarten charge as much as $700 extra for "enrichment" classes that run till 5.30 pm. They are the types who hand their kids $50 worth of coins for the video arcade so mummy and daddy can do their own thing. Philip Larkin the English poet says these of such parenting:
They f— you up your mum and dad
They do not mean to but they do
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra just for you
Larry Summers, the former Treasury secretary, Harvard president and recently departed Obama administration chief economic adviser, mused about the fate of kids at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week. "People on average live a quarter of their lives as children. That's a lot," Mr. Summers said. "It's important that they be as happy as possible during those 18 years." Let's not give the wee ones a rocky start.