‘Parents cannot look beyond PSLE’ — Edutech leader says he’s giving up on Singapore

SINGAPORE: Mr John Tan, the founder of Doyobi and Saturday Kids and a leader in educational technology, announced that he is “giving up on Singapore.”

“The education system in Singapore is too deeply entrenched. Parents cannot look beyond PSLE. I cannot change this,” he added in a March 16 (Thursday) LinkedIn post.

“Even my peers in tech who are highly educated and affluent are caught up in the high stakes exam rat race. I have spent the last ten years trying to change parents’ mindset about how to prepare their kids for the future. I’ve come to the realisation this is not possible.”

Mr Tan, a father of five and an Obama Foundation Asia-Pacific Leader who sits on the board of Ninja Van and ErudiFi, also wrote, “Rather than wasting another 10 years on Singaporean parents who refuse to accept change, I’m bringing Doyobi to the rest of the world.”

At coding school Saturday Kids, which he co-founded in 2012, thousands of children were taught programming, electronics, digital art, and design thinking, and at Doyobi, which offers online STEM curricula, not only are educators taught to teach children science and coding in creative ways, but kids themselves learned the “6 Cs of the 21st century”: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, citizenship, and confidence.

Mr Tan ended his post by writing, “If you’re a parent or an educator who cares deeply about helping your kids become adaptable and resilient, please get in touch.”

His post has since received many comments, with some urging him, “do not give up on us!”

Another wrote, “I opine that MOE shares the same grief with you, myself having served on a number of MOE committees.”

One commenter argued that this type of situation is found not only in Singapore but many other parts of Asia.

Another opined, “I don’t think it’s just the parents’ mindset which needs to change… What happens practically is so different, it’s almost tragic. The school system here loads the child just so much- endless homework and worksheets, if you are in a top class, you are rewarded with even more challenging worksheets. The kids need to stay back after school upto 3 days in a week for extra lessons. Where is the time to play and explore then?”


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