Singapore is known to have one of the best education systems in the world. We have clinched top rankings for international tests and produced some of the best results globally.
But, we often realise that when our students graduate, step out into the workforce, and transition into adulthood, they feel lost and face what we call the ‘quarter-life crisis’.
They have been spending all their lives delving in-depth into academic subjects and chasing better grades, but they don’t know how to move forward from there.
Should schools put less focus on academic subjects, and instead do more to help students prepare for the outside world?
Here are some important life skills that many students struggle with:
Knowing how to manage your finances is extremely important, especially in Singapore where the cost of living is extremely high. Some parents enforce this from when their children are very young, teaching them to save cent by cent, before moving to bigger dollars.
But money gets complicated as they grow up. There are going to be many more things that they need to pay for and want to buy. How can they achieve their life goals and financial stability?
These are some aspects that they need to consider:
- How much must they save to move out by their desired age?
- What are the different types of housing and their pros and cons?
- What are the different types of insurance?
- Why is insurance important?
- Is their passion financially sustainable as a job?
- Can they afford to do what they love, or do they need to go for a stable job to earn a steady income first?
- Pros and cons of different jobs
- How useful are further studies in their desired job position? Is it wiser for them to gain experience or attain more qualifications?
- Possible side hustles that they can explore (e.g. small business, part-time tutoring)
- How to decide if they can afford a certain lifestyle? (e.g. Owning a car)
Maintaining healthy relationships and friendships
This is an aspect that is very overlooked; many mental health problems arise due to poor relationships, be it with their partner, friends, or even family. This is because humans are social creatures and we rely on relationships to feel supported.
Here are some areas that they need to know:
- Learning self-respect
- Walking away from situations that are not serving them well
- What is a toxic relationship?
- How can they choose the people in their life wisely?
- How can they deal with toxic people in their life?
- How to get your point across without raising your voice/losing the respect of others
- How to lead a group
- Handling conflict
In our digital era where our online personalities are intertwined with real life, it is becoming increasingly necessary to protect ourselves online.
Although born into this technological generation, you’ll be surprised at how many students struggle with this.
An example is recognising inappropriate posts on social media.
Many students have given technology the power to ruin their lives just by a simple post or comment online. Because they are so used to oversharing about their lives on social media, they might not be aware when they have stepped on the boundaries.
Leaving a negative digital footprint can cause a lifetime of price to pay as the tarnish to their reputation is permanent.
Cyberbullying is also a common problem among young students. With the anonymous identities, netizens are more daring to spew hateful remarks. This is prevalent among youths when they don’t understand the severity of these actions.
Cyberbullying is a serious issue that needs to be taught to students so that they understand the consequences. It can inflict permanent damage to the victim, such as suicide.
Dealing with mental health
Ironically, our high-achieving education system is not so healthy; the pressure to be outstanding in their academics is stressful and can lead to students developing mental health issues.
This is not to be taken lightly as suicidal tendencies can happen at any age, and Singapore’s suicide rates have been increasing.
According to The Straits Times, some Singapore schools have been recognised for stepping up their efforts to better mental health awareness among youths. They held workshops, talks, encouraged students to embark on mental-health-related projects, etc.
Such efforts to spread mental health awareness among students are very important because students are often the ones who will fall victim to mental health problems, sometimes without even realising that they need help.
These are things that they should have at the back of their mind:
- How to avoid developing mental health problems
- Symptoms for each mental illness
- How can they seek help; who to speak to
- How to manage expectations
Knowing how to look presentable is a debatable issue.
In Singapore, we have spent most of their educational journey wearing uniforms and not having to think much about dress codes.
With too much focus on our results, we may have overlooked an important aspect that will also determine whether or not we can clinch our opportunities and attract positive attention.
Some may say that being restricted to dress codes restrains self-expressions. However, it is still necessary to dress for the occasion and look professional when needed to.
They need to know what the respective dress codes mean and how to adhere to them.
The common dress codes are:
- Smart casual
The list of expectations pinned on the younger generations is growing more extensive by the day because of the increasing competition.
Growing up means developing awareness on how to handle life. After students graduate from their high levels of education, they find themselves spending a lot of time researching the above-mentioned aspects because they didn’t learn them in school.
There is a need for schools to introduce such essential life knowledge so that students can graduate being well-informed adults, ready to live their life independently and contribute back to society.
Since these life skills have not been included in our school curriculum yet, parents can play a part in educating these many aspects of life to their children.
What do you think? Are these skills essential in the school curriculum? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!