The Vacuum Cleaner

Singapore’s Education System

The whole journey with Singapore’s education system could be condensed into two words: “vacuum cleaner”. It cleans by sucking away the dirt and dust but at the same time, it also strips away everything which lies in its way. It cannot differentiate whether the piece of crushed paper is simply trash or a $100 dollar note. I would say that Singapore has indeed produced one of the world’s most efficient “vacuum cleaner” up to date.

When I was young

When I was 8 years old, I love striking the black and white keys on the piano. It was more than a toy. The mere tapping movement of my fingers could produce a different combination of melodious sounds. This was even more fascinating than my powerful water gun or any Lego toys. “Mummy, I have to learn piano.”At that time, I was quite thankful that I was not exposed to the “vacuum cleaner” yet.

Entering Primary School

My life began to change when the vacuum cleaner began to perform its function when I entered primary school. My school system was no different from a factory assembly line. Students stood on the conveyor belt with words ” gifted” or ” not gifted” stamped on us. I had the words ” non-A student” inked across my forehead. Next, we were categorized into different education streams based on the grades given by our teachers. In the following stage, we were asked to stand in front of a huge “vacuum cleaner”. The educators promise us that this “cleaner” will “vacuum” away any bad behaviour, nasty habits and eliminate any other “unwanted thrash” in us. As such we will become more specialized, knowledgeable and skilled in our area of interests, grooming us to become future leaders of Singapore.

In Secondary School

At the age of 14, the “vacuum cleaner” struck me with a deadly blow. “Drawing and painting are useless skills which are not going to help you find a job in the future.?” The silent killer crept in and “stripped” away my passion for art which I once had.

Some of them were fortunate and were “dispatched” to elsewhere.Others continue to remain hopeful, harboring thoughts that they might be about to free themselves one day.

The “vacuum cleaner”, with its immense thrust of force, has not only suck away ” talents” and “skills” but it has also take away our “time” and “freedom”, narrowing our lives.

I guess I could only salvage this situation by taking a bold move to recover everything I has once lost. I am starting to search for my old paintbrushes and charcoal pencils in those decomposed vacuum cleaner bags. 

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