A 12 year old girl, Peony Wee, lost her life on a mountain trekking trip to Mount Kinabalu when an earthquake hit the mountain. 2 teachers and 7 more students are still missing. The students were there for leadership training as part of their wholesome education and investment for the future. Our education process is top notched, our students did not just go to school to learn the 3Rs but a lot of other ECA and character development programmes to make them leaders of tomorrow. Only a rich country like ours could afford such a comprehensive and enriching programme unlike the developing countries. Hopefully the product of our expensive education system will produce useful graduates for the economy in the future. If only this comprehensive system was introduced earlier, our PMETs would not be in dire straits today.
While we pray for the safe return of the missing students and teachers, maybe we should take the opportunity to reflect, with hindsight, how much we want to do with our children to make them better adults in the future. Mountain climbing for 12 year olds to me is a bit far fetched though many would thing it is normal and good. The overall picture is that all outings, even within Singapore, would incur some form of risk and could turn into tragedy if fate is unkind.
The Korean ferry tragedy is still vivid to many and still being mourned by the parents of those children that were gone. I thought that would have been food for thought to rein back some of the activities of the schools. Apparently our overseas trips and programmes for students are in full swing and students are encouraged to travel around the world, to many distant countries for all round character development. This is very good if everything turns out fine.
The question is that should schools be involved in such overseas trips that often benefits a few that could afford the cost and many that could not and could only envied? Should such trips be left to the parents and families to their own fancy and not involved the schools? It is good to have such programmes, a great outing, a great holiday to remember of. But as to the real value, it is subjective especially for very young children.
Maybe the MOE may want to rethink and look at the bad side if things did not turn out right like this case. Tragedy that can be avoided shall be avoided. The process of growing up and learning is a life time experience and there is no urgency to do it at the primary or even secondary school level. The biggest training programme and character development will come when the boys get enlisted into NS. That is solid training to turn boys to men at the appropriate time, and if danger is part of the process of growing up, NS training is full of it.
The Mount Kinabalu tragedy is still unfolding and could be worse. 9 are still missing. We do not need a bigger tragedy of the South Korean dimension to regret and think it is unwise to expose our children to it. Let the parents bring their children to Disneyland or the African jungle if they so choose to. The principals and teachers do not need to live with such memories and to regret the rest of their lives.
The Americans are great adventurers and love to go to war to return as victors and heroes. But when the brave young men and women return in body bags, the pain and hurt will last a life time. Having fun is one thing and everyone loves to have fun. Think of the consequences and ask if it is necessary. Is it something that must have or good to have or nice to have but not really necessary?