I am continually dismayed by the sheer obsessiveness of the examination culture in Asian societies. I guess its reflects our predilition towards conservative - logical and structural ways of behavior. But the problem is that it breeds inertia, rigidity in thinking, cowardice in forward planning, lack of real thinking (imagination), and a morbid obsession with paper qualifications.
A society which draws its leaders from an exam culture can never really grow. Biggest prime example - China. Leaders should seriously study how China manage to stagnate for the last 600 years with its exam culture mentality. All their top scholars, the best and the brightest, kept China languishing in stupid traditions and archaic conservative mindsets so much that it was a 3rd rate nation by the 19th century.
Look at Japan - its been stagnating dramatically since the 1980s too - wtf is the point of forcing its youth to exam-hell lifestyle? Sacrificing their youth for what??? Their birthrate is plummeting. Their regional towns are becoming old-folk villages. Their nation is dying and all their impressive scholars don't know how to solve it.
I'm not saying we should do away with examinations for schools. Exams set clear standards and enforces a set fixed standard that everyone has to go through. This seems to work best for logic based courses - ie math or language.
Countries which have removed examinations from the classrooms like Australia are finding that a lot of the children are coming out illiterate and poorly educated for the obvious reasons. Without the means to gauge the child's level of education - a great number number of children in America, Britain and Australia are "sleepwalking" through school.
America in a way is no better. Their society is morally bankrupt- there is a culture devoted to the divorce of personal responsibility - its always someone else's fault - preferably some corporation that they can sue. Their leaders are grossly incompetent. And they have a debt which may never be paid back in a thousand years. Most Americans are addicted to legal or illegal drugs or morbidly obese. However they do produce leaders that can think outside the box - Steve Jobs for example. Harvard Uni dropout. He would have only been qualified to hold a temp teacher job in Singapore.
Back I digress... exams are only good to a certain extent. You need exams to qualify for all the vocational jobs - medicine, pilots, plumbers, math teachers, engineers, lawyers etc.. But exams can never produce leaders who can think outside the box, exams can never create the entrepreneurial spirit, exams can not produce imaginative and creative individuals.
Exams often only test the students on information that is dated - old.
Exams are also sometimes counterproductive to the spirit of education - because they produce students who want to game the system and only study specific topics to get the right answers. They aren't interested in thinking and analysing the problem - they just want to produce model answers. That's basically bullshit. Education is suppose to help people think - to give them the tools needed to work out problems themselves. The current model seems to be simply creating a generation of parrots.
And God help us all if the state has a list of all the "right answers" for the students. Then the country is pretty fucked.