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What Riles me up

My blog (and life) tends to avoid serious discussion on politics and other more serious issues that face us. But I have to comment on this item I read in the New Paper.

I hail from Singapore and spent my first 21 years there. I identify myself as a Singaporean and for the most part I don't think my life in the US has changed me as a person. But it seems that the last 10 years spent in the US might have changed my thought processes more than I had anticipated.

This article yesterday is about how 10 students were about to sit for a national level examination and were refused entry because their hair was too long. In some cases the students had already started the exam and were pulled out for a quickie haircut before allowing them to continue taking the exam.

Then there's a followup article in today's paper saying that most Singaporeans approve of the School's handling of the matter. Granted, "The New Paper" is considered a gossip column (at least it was 10 years ago) and when they say "Most Singaporeans", they actually mean 13 of the 18 responses they got from emails and letters to this article.

BTW, this was the rule they broke.
Misconduct includes being properly groomed and having sideburns and hair that touches the collar for boys is unacceptable.
According to instructions in a handbook given to all exam candidates months ahead, students can be made to leave the exam hall if they show such misconduct.

My personal opinion? The chief examiner and school are both anal retentive assholes who need to get a life! I mean seriously!!! I can understand the need for rules and on any normal day I would not challenge the school's decision to pull the boys out for a haircut. But this was during a national level examination. For pity's sake, its not like they went totally Goth, dressed in full Black sporting pierecings all over their bodies with a mohawk haircut (not that there's anything wrong with Goth). So they let their hair grow a little longer, who cares?. The People in power need to observe the spirit of the law, in this case it was to provide a homogenious calm environment, allowing students to excel in their studies and hopefully raise themselves to higher levels. Instead the school choose to be laywers following the rules to the letter regardless of its detriment to those involved.

This might also be a case of discrimination. N-Level examinations or Normal level are for the less bright students, and in Singapore if you're from N-Level some groups of people tend to look down on you and expect the worst. So if these students were from Raffles Instution (among the nation's elite schools) this incident might never have occured.

Ah yes, Singapore unspoken class structure. A student from RI is to be revered while a student in the normal stream of a neighbourhood school is reviled. If you're familiar with Singapore's society, you know what I'm talking about and I dare you to deny the exsistence of the class structure. Its not publicly noted but its there in varying degrees.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this. But for some reason this article just got under my skin. In the past several years I had read about how Singapore is progressing and revamping its school system to develop students with individuality instead of simply being sheep like my generation was programmed to be (that's another story). But the truth of the matter is, social norms are hard to erase and such articles lead me to believe that the Singapore school system today isn't much different from when I was in it over 10 years ago, the syllabus and methods of teaching might have changed but not the actual experience, and for this I feel sad.

/rant off

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They have been warned many times already. you should see the lawlessness in school nowadays. nobody obey the rules anymore and the teachers cannot do a thing about it.

Wait till these chaps go for reservist. The SAF can teach the MOE a thing or two about anal-retentiveness of haircut requirements.

E.g. the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) who is a reservist making a big fuss of NSmen having "long" hair when mobilised.

Hello, if we are mobilised for war, what is more important? Reaching your reporting centre quickly so that you can draw your weapons and kill the enemy or looking neat and tidy with regulation hairstyle by visiting the barber for 30 mins prior to reporting?

SAF can go eat s*** and die.

hahahahha ROD loh.

If the others are able to meet the requirements, I don't see why they can't. If they choose to challenge the rules (which I am sure have been made known to them during briefings), then they should be able to swallow the consequences too. If they can't be bothered to make an effort to comply, why should anyone else bother about their future?

I cannot agree with Virgin more than to say that we (three of us in the family) have decided to give up Singapore citizenship - for the stupidity that prevails there!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. To those who disagreed, I do see your points. And I do agree that there are many factors that I'm not considering in terms of lawlessness in schools and teachers helpless to effect any discipline.

But I imagine myself in such a situation. Perhaps it didn't occur to me that my hair was too long because I was studying too hard. And I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes at this scenario. But other forms of punishment could have been implemented. 1. Cutting their hair after the exam, 2. Detention or Community Service to the school, 3. Demerit points (does anyone still use demerit points in schools?)

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