According to Andy Chen, Deputy Editor of ST Life!, [link] German football team is like Singapore’s education system. In his article he said,
"Singapore’s rigorous education system is increasingly being derided for the very same reasons the German football squad is now being celebrated – it drills its kids in the basics and beyond to maximise their potential."
Before anything, let’s provide a little bit of Germany world cup history for the benefit of non football fans. The Die Mannschaft (including the east and west days) won a total of four World Cups out of their world record of appearing in 8 World Cup finals since the inception of the competition, and have be placed third a further 4 times. Germany is also the only European country that qualified for every FIFA World Cup they were permitted to enter. It is also the only nation to have won both the men’s and women’s World Cups. In short, Germany is World Cup royalty. Outside their World Cup success, they also won three European Championships and one Olympic Gold.
Behind the success of the German national team were darker times that bandwagoners chose to forget. One of which happened only a decade ago, not too long in football terms. Germany finished at the bottom of their group at Euro 2000 and failed to progress to the knockout stages at Euro 2004. These was defining moments that led to the decision that a radical overhaul was required. Their World Cup victory just a few days ago was the certification that not only did the Germans showed willingness to change but also carried out their conviction in decisive collectiveness.
In contrast, I wonder what Andy Chen, the ST deputy editor who compared Germany’s recent success to Singapore’s education system will say to Singapore’s very own Goal 2010 – the exciting aim to get the Lions to appear in their first World Cup Finals ever. Did our education system produce a nation of quitters who dissipate at the first sight of failure instead of carrying on the goal the manner we would expect from people who went through a ‘rigorous education system that should be celebrated’?
Football aside, what have Singapore’s own talents produced with the current education system? Interestingly, Singapore’s famous economic miracle happened from the late 1960s to 1980s when the education system back then was not so ‘rigorous’. So where does such a system led us today? For the last ten years, Singapore has been on a social decline.
Time and again, we are being told by our government officials that Singaporeans are not good enough and that we need foreigners to ensure our survival. As a result, a large percentage of university spots have been reserved for foreigners. In contrast, the revitalised German national football team’s success was hinged on a relentless pursuit of local talent development by introducing news rules for the Bundesliga that stipulate all 36 clubs in the top two divisions must run an academy and that at least 12 players in each intake who must be locals. Since the system was introduced, the Bundesliga has changed from a 50% foreign players to having around 65% now eligible to represent Germany’s national side. The success of this strategy does not limit to the Die Mannschaft, top German clubs such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund has been enjoying the rewards of having more young talented Germans in their teams, taking the gloss away from the Spanish clubs in the European Champions League in recent years.
A better team to compare to Singapore’s current state would be England’s national side. A team which is overhyped by the media, plenty of ‘boomz’ as always but no results to show for. A team who believes they are much better than they are, with an FA behind them that is not liberal and willing enough make the radical changes that the English system badly needed. In the English Premier League, there has been a sharp increase of foreign players over the last two decades. Many tops teams in the leagues were regularly fielding teams with only 1-2 English outfield players in their league games. No coincidentally, the last time the English side came close to any honours was a semi final appearance in Euro ’96. England die-hards find themselves reminiscing good old times of the 1966. Sounds familiar to Singapore’s situation?
The first question which pops up is that, behind the merits of the Singapore’s education system as claimed, why is there a contradiction that the locals are constantly deemed not being good enough to lead Singapore to sustainable success, and to recreate our new miracles (not by building casinos) – by having less and not more foreigners in our set up, like how the Die Mannschaft benefited from?
A Singaporean in Australia