When we coin an odd sounding term like “Education Police” we immediately conjure thoughts about the state and it’s cane wielding cops chasing after truants and drop-outs, making sure they get back to the classroom. In a communist regime perhaps but as we all know, communism is no longer cool these days, if not totally dead. In this era of global democracy where people have the liberty to educate themselves to their own liking, the idea of Education Police unexpectedly sprung up in democratic South Korea on a completely different mission – to prevent students from killing themselves from studying too much. In the land of Hyundai, Samsung and LG, competition for good jobs is tightening up that families are willing to bet their houses so their kids can get to the elite universities. Shades of Pilipinas eh ? You can’t get a good job in Pinas nowadays if you’re not from the elite schools . I heard stories of security guards rejecting applicants right at the door if they’re not elite school graduates. Tough competition like Korea except that we don’t have global giant corporations like Hyundai, Samsung, LG to show for. We are twice as many in numbers as the South Koreans making jobs even harder to find. In short, we’re behaving like the South Koreans but we don’t have the industrial infrastructure to show for and we are increasing our population with total abandon as if hoping that one day, mannah will fall from heaven to quench our hunger and thirst permanently. I am completely befuddled by people who totally miss a crucial point in the population control debate, that in order for a country to be progressive, it has to produce a population of potential taxpayers and not freeloaders, wanderers and hobos.


Now that I’ve made my spiel 😡 , back to the issue. The Education Police was formed not by design but by force of circumstance, when the South Korean government discovered that students are spending too much time studying, going to “hagwons” – special tutorial academies – often times past midnight, so they could hone their brains and make it to the elite universities.The government became concerned of the stress and the health risks such an overload would induce to the students. The Education Police rove about the city, making sure that hagwons comply with the 10pm curfew set by the government. They even knock on doors and get inside the hagwons to ensure that students aren’t overstaying. The South Korean education minister is promising a reform, making education an enriching and enjoyable experience, not an ordeal. Perhaps he should make a trip to Finland to investigate how its educational system, touted to be the best in the world, works effectively with less stress and less classroom time.

“Ever since Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million that does not start formal education until age 7 and scorns homework and testing until well into the teenage years, scored at the top of a well-respected international test in 2001 in math, science and reading, it has been an object of fascination among American educators and policy makers.”

Interestingly, the Finns, in their own unique style , did justice to the term “ less is more”. Kids start school at age 7 and finish high school at 16, spend 4 hours in school, remove their shoes inside the class and call their teachers by their first name. Finnish teachers are very well schooled and trained , considered consummate professionals, equal in esteem and income with doctors and lawyers. The Finns have shown how quality education can be achieved smartly – less cost to the government, less stress to the students and parents, more time for everyone to enjoy life. Obviously the model wouldn’t work in every country especially those whose education systems are mainly driven by private enterprise but if it is a benchmark of exellence it is worthwhile emulating, at least parts of it, if we are serious in making a difference to the future of our children.


Parents are obsessed with turning their children into potential Einsteins so that their kids can go to the best schools and attain the highest academic degree and last but not least, so they could brag about them 😉 It is not surprising therefore that brain enhancing products, and I’m not talking about drugs but revolutionary techniques in enhancing brain power and memory skills, proliferate the internet market these days. Want your kid to multiply 3 digit numbers in a jiffy ? With special brain enhancing techniques, it is doable – so they say. So your child turns into a whiz kid with a terrific memory – does that make him/her genuinely academically superior ? Or has he/she found an amazing operational short cut method that beats the traditional system? What I’m saying is, if you can multiply 385 by 604 in your brain within 5 seconds, you better make darn sure that you are also able to do it by long hand. Our passion for excellence may have precariously turned into passion for excellent grades – that’s the scary part.


This boy is only 9 years old. He’s Japanese and you’d be wondering if his parents will ask him to quit guitar playing, push him to the limit so he could make it to the elite school and land a job at Toyota, Sony or Mitsubishi Industries 🙂 Heck this little guy at 7 years played lead guitar for Ozzy Osbourne at a concert! This kid is plain freaking awesome. Look at the Oz carrying him on his shoulders while he’s belting off the riff to Crazy Train. His parents need not worry about employment for this kid. When he reaches 14, he’d be getting job offers for a lead guitarist like you won’t believe 😉

20 Responses

  1. Studying past midnight everyday. That’s way too much obsession. It is tough to get in but I hope the job is guaranteed once the student graduates.

    I was totally amused by this guitar boy genius. I also watched his funny interview with Helen Degeneres after. He is really awesome. 🙂

    • that’s the 64 dollar question, that despite making it to the elite unniversity, a good job is available. Still depends on the person’s emotional intelligence though. Superior academics doesn’t necessarily translate into a someone who could work with people.

      He’s truly gifted, one of a kind.

  2. Dito naman, parents hire teachers to “tutor” their kids one week before every major exams. My point is, their tutors are also their teachers on that subject. Racket? I don’t know. But those kids are on the top of their class. So is my daughter who don’t attend tutoring but only “guided” by her mother. >: D

    That kid reminds me of Desiree Basset, an awesome lead guitarist. 15 yrs old and already performing with the top rock bands in the US.

    • tutoring isn’t bad if it is meant to reinforce the child’s knowledge or to keep him/her up to speed. I’m all for it as long as you don’t burn the midnight oil and stress up the kid.

      Yep, same mold. This little guy could play with the pros- truly awesome.

  3. re: hagwons and overstudying — I know sa Japan nagsimula yan… and they call the hagwons as “cram school.”

    re: Scandinavian countries, I heard naman, libre ang pakain sa school! wow na lang ang masasabi ko…

    • cram school… nice terminology 😉 however cramming until 1am daily isn’t cramming anymore 🙂

      true. The key is there are only 5.5 million Finns so feeding the kids at school is still affordable. If you do this in China or India with a billion people the state would go bankrupt 🙂

  4. pogi ng bata ah! i think it is really difficult to strike a balance between pushing too hard and not pushing at all. ewan ko ba. siguro i’m just glad hindi ko pa to problema sa ngayon. 😀

    • yep, the passion for excellence is the motive for pushing too hard. There is a balance between studying smartly and studying stupidly they say 🙂 Tapos ka na di ba ? So no problem with you anymore 😉

  5. Brain techniques do help and makes it easier for students to cope beat the exam but as they always say, nothing beats the original, old fashioned way.

    Man, this boy would be greater than Hendrix and Clapton. Playing guitar looks so easy for him, like second nature 😉

    • Let’s just say that the whiz kid uses a mental calculator instead of the physical one. Now that does not mean he’s exceptionally bright unless he can do it long hand so confirm that he does understand what he is doing 😉

      Probably better than Clapton or Hendrix. If this dude can rock with a legit band at age 7 he could do even better at 17 methinks.

      • with the emergence if powerful computers and consuming devices like tablets and smart phones, do we really have to be proficient in math calculations ? We can get to wikipedia and google anything we want to know so why the stress / 🙂

        • there are some education experts who suggest that it makes sense for math calculations to be done by computers and not humans. This kind of futuristic notion is designed to relieve the human mind of the operational encumbrance so that it could simply do the thinking, conceiving and the integrating of ideas, making the world more productive and progressive.

  6. i must echo pm’s concerns that finding a balance between too much and not enough push is difficult. however, we should also make sure to develop a well rounded citizenry.

    • too much of anything is poison they say.Competition seems to be a hallmark of Asian culture. Everybody seems to want to be ahead of everyone. Even when it comes to parking courtesy in Asian malls, I feel that fellow Asians will jump into your spot when the place becomes a little crowded.

  7. Only conjecture, but, perhaps, the success of the Finnish Schools lies in the integral mentality of the community. Perhaps “Illusions”, such as drastic differences in wealth, possessions, positions, accolades, wives……u know bullshit, is actually distances apart from what they really want to achieve: which is “true” actualization of their capacities in a “field” in which they are passionate about.

    We must discern “notions of progress”. There was a guy once who told me he can make millions selling make up on Ebay……See what I fawkin mean.

    • your point is precisely what Eistein alluded to in his essay ” WHy Socialism” – that in a capitalist society, people are only interested in jobs that provide the highest salary. Parents goad their kids to pursue a vocation that pays well and dismiss those that have no attractive remuneration like painters, sculptors and poets.

      As for the Finns, they’re in the top ten highest taxpaying society in the world today so they get a fair share of government subsidy and social benefits like most Euro countries. So the “integral mentality” is partly supported by socialistic policies which methinks is just alright as long as everybody concurs. Some people would rather have less cash but guaranteed education, health care and social benefits 😉

  8. Why go to the rigors of studying when your cocohead is empty, I believe that’s where most suicides comes into play. In college, there was this guy in chemistry who just walked on water, but lo and behold, he struggled so bad in english, can’t figure out what’s present, past, and future tenses.
    What’s sad about this education scenario is that there are thousands
    out there whose “geniuses” are untapped only because they live in third world countries.
    Finland’s meager population is the key to their good education, good food, clean environment, etc…was there in 2009, they just have to find a way to get rid of the mendicant gypsies.
    That lil dude is almost the same height and maybe weighed the same as that guitar, more powah to him…yeah he didn’t have to go to college, he’ll be a rockstar. Cheers!

    • good point..what’s the point with being academically smart when you can’t communicate effectively 😉 True, that there are potentially smart people gone untapped because they are from poor families. Conversely there are not too smart people who look smart because of their family name, their wealth.

      Mendicant gypsies in Finland… they must be the laziest of the bunch in that rich country. Oh well, we kinda have them lazy bums of different shapes and forms in every country don’t we 😉

      The little dude is a guitar genius. Playing the instrument is second nature.. the best part is he doesn’t need to be a good singer 😉

  9. amazing kid! 🙂

    i guess i was tough with the kids (not that i bamboo and torture them with rods) and employed discipline with regards to their study habits when the children was still in the elementary grades. i believed the habit and the desire had to be developed earlier. they’re on their own from high school to college and they excelled. did the discipline thinking that that would challenge the kids. my son told me when he was in elementary, he was actually studying for us his parents but when he was on his own, it was self that he wants to challenge, satisfy and reward.

    the goal for me is not to make them milking cows, of course. 😀

    • been out of town… sorry for the late reply. Amazing kid indeed eh ?
      It is always important to instil discipline when the kids are young so they get sensitized to the importance of education. As in life, there is a point where you need need them to break free from your rein, much like a kite so they can soar on their own, make their own choice in pursuing higher education and the career/vocation they may want to pursue.

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