Thoughts : Singapore (Education) : The Value of Literature

Call me crazy but at the age of 23 I just bought the Cambridge School Shakespeare’s edition of Othello (not to mention two books on poetry) last week. Although now I’m studying in my University’s Arts faculty (though not Literature or English) in University, I never had the opportunity to take Literature at ‘O’ or ‘A’ levels.

Actually, to be accurate, I was given the opportunity but never took it. Same old reason as many other Singaporeans: I took history instead because, being brought up in a rote-learning education system, I was good at memorization and was thus confident of a distinction. Literature was simply never an option when the pressure to do well and score high determined my choice of subjects.

Here I am now, much older and more mature, regretting not having an appreciation for Literature when I was younger. But then again, I’m glad I still have much life in me to read the classics and other books that not only helps me understand the world and life better, but also stirs me intellectually and emotionally.

I am glad the people in high places are recognizing the value of literature too. Although surprised that the Economic Review Committee (ERC) has acknowledged its importance, I am supportive of their conclusions – inspite of the fact that the ERC appreciates such a subject only for its economic utility and not its aesthetic value or value for humanity as a whole.

The verdict it clear: Literature benefits the Singapore society, both for its economic and social usefulness. Now it’s time for the government to act accordingly.

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