Education with Exams only trains good servents and compliants

What is Education?
What is “National Exam”?

What is the purpose of Education?
What is the purpose of “National Exams”?

What is the root of the development of education?
When did “National Exams” become so important?

How many participants and teachers of education (directly/indirectly) have taken time to look at the history of mankind’s journey in learning and development?

A little insights of what Singaporean parents, teachers and other adults hope for in Singapore Education in a public consult conversation with the MOE. (Credit: Ministry of Education)

Let’s explore these questions together. Here are two links for you to take a read, before you continue scrolling through this article.

History of Education:

History of Exams:

Now we take most information from online sources, with a pinch of salt, as we do not know its source or the agenda of the author of the information. Let’s reflect together with doubts.


Looking at how education is formed over thousands of years, through the foundation of scribe, education is made to create a central form of communication that would allow one to relate to another through time. In almost all civilisations, education has always been an avenue for the rich to gain knowledge and wisdom. So to engage in education, it seems like one has to be of a certain wealth and status.

Now say if I’m a poor chap (monetarily), and I wish to not be poor, I will either rob the rich, and risk being punished, or be educated to be of the same status as the wealthy. Taking those elements into consideration, wouldn’t the argument tilt towards education as a means to get rich and successful? The centralisation of communication via education is also to reinforce the status and wealth of the rich and powerful, who are now even more equipped with the knowledge they have gained through education.

Education was never meant to be free. Almost all free education has been retracted from the people of the society, as that would create too many educated individuals that may cause a revolutionary change to the current status and position of power of certain groups of people. Looking at that angle, how then can education be related to learning and development of an individual holistically? Education is simply meant to be used as an avenue to reinforce power, wealth and status.

The famous sentence among many humanitarian groups, “Using education to alleviate poverty, is evidently true”. For with education, one can move up the social status and gain more wealth. But is that what we envision for our young ones? Wealth? Social Status? Power? Have a good scan of all the educated politicians and leaders of our world. What did Education do to them?


The history of examinations, on the other hand, takes the story of education to the next level. The use of examinations has always, I mean ALWAYS, been used to produce Civil Servants. They have never been a gauge of intelligence. They are always used to measure obedience and academic excellence, in line with serving the government or political power of civilisations.  Would any of us want an unstable civil service, with many creative personalities that cause the central institute to spend more time handling their civil servants’ “creativity” than the delivery of civilian services to the public efficiently (Not that most of them are efficient to start with)?

In my conclusion, Education and Examinations are useful for those who want to venture into the civil service or grow in power and status. But for those who seek creativity, skills, character development, leadership and various other elements, our learning journey lies somewhere beyond Education and Examinations. Do not let these two elements define us.

Wouldn’t we want our children to be able to lift themselves and others?

Written by:
Coach Darren
Forest School Singapore

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