Yesterday in Parliament, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat elaborated on what he meant by a “good” school: “Is it right to judge a school with more than 1,000 students, as ‘good’ or ‘not good’, on the basis of whether it can produce identical academic grades as another school?” “‘Every school a good school’ does not mean every school (is) the same school; it does mean every school (is) good in its own way.”
In a kopitiam somewhere, three fathers – Chin Chia Swee, Liak Bok Kiu and Heng Ah Keat – sat down to talk about their sons’ future.
Chin: Eh, my son got into a good school (name of school)
Liak: Wah. So good. Your son must be a good student.
Chin (with false modesty): Not bad lah…Your son how?
Liak: My son’s marks not so good. He got into (name of school).
Chin: Good grief! Have to be careful. Bad school. I mean…full of bad boys. Pai kia types. Heng, your son how?
Heng: My son’s marks not so good but he got into (name of school). Neighbourhood school. Thank goodness…heng ah…
Chin (condescension all over): Not bad. Not bad. School good in anything or not?
Heng: Seems to be good in sports. So, my son is actually in a good school, good in sports.
Chin (with a sniff): Of course, of course, if your son can become a national runner….very good.
Liak: Actually my son’s school is also a good school. It just has bad boys. But it might be a good school too because he will learn how to fight and become… how you say… resilient.
Chin: Liak, don’t dream lah. Your son will end up in ITE. Not so good.
Liak (defensive) : But ITE is also very good school. Learn a lot of things. Very hands on. It’s not the end. Eh, Chin, just because your son is in a good school doesn’t mean my son is in a bad school.
Heng: Why anyone care what school? So long as my son is a good boy. Chin, you spoil your son so much it doesn’t matter if he in a good school…
Chin (defensive) : Oi! My son is a good boy, good student, in a good school. Beat that! He will grow up to be a very good man! Liak’s son will grow up very bad!
Liak (angry): Why you talk bad about my son? Why we talking about good, bad or so-so? And what’s so good about your son anyway?
Heng (troubled): Actually, let’s agree that our sons are all good. Don’t quarrel anymore.
Liak (calming down): Good call.
Chin (upset): For goodness sake! I tell you my son is in a GOOD SCHOOL!
Liak (all het up): Shaddup lah! It’s just a good school, not the best school! Not even top school!
(And so the quarrel went on…Chin and Liak started hurling cups of hot kopi and teh-o at each other but ended up scalding Heng, who was trying to mediate. A low-ranking police officer rang for the SOC which arrived in double-quick time to disperse the trio. No shots were fired. A committee of inquiry later showed that the trio were NOT drunk. In the meantime, their sons went to school.)