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education: how to become a laffing stock
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redbean



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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some of the bloggers in mysingaporenews reminisced about the days gone by when we studied very little and still got by with our lives with very little. Those were times when Standard 5 or equivalent of Primary 6 could land one a job as a Chief Clerk(tua chye hoo) in an organisation or even as a senior civil servant in the colonial civil service. And one could wear white long pants and white shirts, to be whiter and more similar to the white lords.

Educational standards then were very low. Qualifications of teachers were equally low. It was a case of the blind leading the blind. The aim was to be able to learn the 3 Rs. That would be adequate. The colonial masters did not see the need for the locals to be too highly educated. The first Chinese secondary school, The Chinese High School, was a communal effort by the Chinese community to educate their own children. No, not the responsibility of the govt then. They paid for everything, including land and building and the teachers' salary.

And school life was simple. As children, did we study? Play was all we knew, or staying out of the cubicles we called home. Sometimes home was a folding bed, or bed was a corner of a floor inside the cubicle if one was lucky. Or it could be the corridor or 5 footway.

Staying out was the norm, at least for the children of coolies and odd job labourers. The outdoor was the living room. Tuition or proper guidance by parents in education was a luxury that few could afford. Even if some parents tried, the teachers were mostly school dropouts, whose parents could put them through a few years in school but they failed to progress to secondary school or at best Secondary Two.

Anyway, who cared about education when parents too were illiterate and did not know anything that the children were learning in school except ABC? Life was simple and no big dreams. The common big dream of the labourer mothers was the 'tua chye hoo' or a pen pushing job in an office. That was a great achievement and improvement in the quality of life. A 'tua chye hoo' was the senior administrative staff in an office, and could often earned enough to own a car.

In the minds of the children it was play and quickly grow up to work. Those who failed early were the joy of parents. They could start work earlier, in the kopitiam as kopi kias, or helping the kok kok mee to peddle the streets for business.

When poverty was everywhere, no one felt that poor or miserable. The little corners of wealth were in the Bukit Timah, East Coast and Orchard Road areas when the Ang Moh resided and those enclaves of the babas who were mainly civil servants or working with the British forces as clerks.

Stress? The only stress was when the legs were covered with cane strokes left by abusing parents. How to hide them in shorts at schools. Other than that, many passed their lives aimlessly. Life was unstructured and so was elementary education.

What's happening today to our children? Striving to be the best that can be. We spent our times singing 'God Save the Queen.'
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redbean



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eng Hen asking tough questions in MOE

Why do we need so many universities and so many graduates? If everyone is a graduate, can they all become CEOs or professionals? These are very basic questions that are not new. It is good that we go back to basics and start to question the fundamental premises before we get lost along the way. It is the same as questioning the basics of public service, of the role of govt and of the motivations to become politicians.

It is a popular move to have a 4th university or even a 5th, and turn everyone into graduates. But the job market will still be the same. There can only be one Prime Minister, one CEO or one Permanent Secretary in their respective organisations. The pyramid shape of the organisational structure will remain fairly the same. It can only be flatter or steeper. It cannot stand on the opposite end.

Why are we asking such basic questions now? Has someone got carried away in the past?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sacrificing our child for our own benefit

A Primary One child starts school at 7.20am. Depending on the distance and mode of transportation, the child may have to wake up before 6am to get to school. Now why is there a need for a child at such a tender age to start school at 7.20am?

Oh, the parents need to go to work. So they need to pack the child off to school first, could be on the way to work. Huh? For the convenience of the parents, for the convenience of meeting working hours, we force our little ones to wake up so early in the morning, sleepy eyes, to go to school.

Are we humans or monsters? For all decency, there is no need for young children to start school before 9am. The parents can go and sort out their own problems. Do not sacrifice our children for the sake of the adults.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More changes in mindset

The new mission of education, according to Eng Hen, is 'imparting values by engaging a more questioning young generation, while keeping them rooted to Singapore.' The message is loud and clear. Any jokers going into cyberspace forums or blogs and telling people not to kpkb, not to question, not to think, or get out, better read this message again. For I will report them to Eng Hen. Laughing

Today's young are expected to be questioning. So those who were brought up in the era of not questioning should retune their frequencies and start thinking. Thinking is now expected. My god.

Masters student Wilson Tan was doubtful if this is possible. With people questioning more, it will lead them to demand for more space, freedom and autonomy. How to reconcile these expectations in an authoritarian state when authority must be obeyed, people must not be seen or heard?

Eng Hen disputed Wilson's comment that we are 'a bit stifling.' It is only a perception. Really? How many of you think that it is only a perception and not the reality? And who causes this perception, who causes a few generations of Singaporeans ended up as unthinking and fear of thinking or questioning?

Would this new quest to engage the young into thinking and questioning be real? Can we simply tell the young that they should start to do this in schools when the whole system is proclaimed as authoritarian and authoritarianism is the new model for economic progress?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another issue another Tan Kin Lian in the making

The neglect or non recognition of the pre school teachers is starting to stir. Dr Christine Chen, President of the Association for Early Childhood Education is making a call for all the childcare teachers to come together to fight for their neglected cause. And since no one is interested in them except for some lip service, they would rather take the future of their profession into their own hands.

Don't be surprise that the next group of people mounting the mounds of Hong Lim Park will be your childcare teachers. Many of them are quite well qualified, with diplomas and degrees and even PhDs but chose to look after children for the love of them and passion.

Let's see whether their cause will be taken up and who will take the lead.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

$300k for a place in SAS

An individual needs to donate $200k to the Singapore American School to book a place for a child. A corporation will need to cough out $300k for the same place. This is above the $10k to $20k school fees. The demand for a place in the SAS is so high that this is the market price for the time being.

As a commercial enterprise, this is a happy thing. The amount to donate can keep going up as long as people are willing to pay for it. The question is who ultimately pays for it?

Shall such a market driven logic be applied to state services like housing, medical, education and the rest of the essential services provided by the govt, including monopolistic services like public transport?

One thing for sure when this kind of mindset is deemed acceptable, a lot of profit. Who pays?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much is our world class education?

Singapore citizens pay about $7000 tuition fee per year at NUS for year 2010/11. International students pay about $11,000. We consider ourselves very lucky to receive a tertiary education in one of the top universities in the world.

The tuition fee for Imperial College of London, the top 3 university in UK and ranked 5th in the world by Times is 3,290 pounds for UK and EU citizens. For international students the fee is 21,400 pounds for an Engineering course.

Am I right to say that a UK or EU citizen is paying lesser for a world class education in Imperial College than our citizens in NUS? The exchange rate is S$2 to a pound. In fact practically all the universities in UK is charging the same tuition fee for UK and EU citizens.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much did we subsidise tertiary education?

In my article yesterday, the British universities are charging EU and their own citizens a flat fee of 3,290 pounds and international students at 21,400 pounds. In our case, we charge our citizens $7000 against $11,000 for international students.

Two points to make from this comparison. The cost of education in British universities are much cheaper than ours as relatively their cost of living are higher. The second point is that they make international students pay 7 times what their citizens paid. This means that if the cost of education is double what their citizens are paying, guessing only, then each international students could be subsidizing 50% of the tuition fee of 5 UK/EU students. It is a case of looking after their citizens first.

Let's take a look at the tuition cost and subsidies as published by the NUS website. For an Arts and Social Science course, the grant or subsidy is $19,000. This plus the $7,000 fee the students are paying will make up the full tuition cost, ie $26,000. And if we apply the same formula for the cost of education in the UK, the British are actually charging international students the full fees, with practically no subsidies.

What about our international students. If the full cost is $26,000 and our international students are paying $11,000, then they should be receiving a subsidy of $15,000. According to the NUS website, the full fee for international students is $30,000 and they too get a $19,000 grant.

I am not going to quibble why the full fee between citizen and non citizen has a $4,000 difference. But why do we need to offer international students a $19,000 grant? Could we charge international students a little more to subsidise our local students like what the British are doing? Of course we can't charge them the same 21,400 pounds or about $42,800 pa. We may also be world class but no foreigners will want to pay the same for a Singapore education if they could get a British one. Still we could raise it to maybe $15,000 or $20,000 if our education is really world class, and at a 50% discount to what the British universities are charging, it must still be a bargain.

We could then charge our citizens much lesser, subsidised by international students instead of the govt subsidising international students to a tune of $19,000.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doing away with exam results for school admission

I read an article by Kelvin Teo in NewAsiaRepublic blog calling for the doing away with exam results for school admission. He mentioned many good points about how the over emphasis on exam results may not be producing leaders with a heart or caring for the people. And of course all the fears and pressure of examinations. He also cited the doing away of school ranking as a move in the right direction after parental protest that ranking is bad. In the same vein, grading is equally bad.

I must say that it is a revolutionary idea and worth thinking about. Let’s do away with all examinations or have examinations without results. Then we can remove all the ills and apprehension of parents and students. And no one can go around bragging about getting straight As and looking down on those who got straight Cs or worst. The parents and children will be most pleased.

And we can advance every student to the university as universities too will have no exam results to base on for student admission. And when there are too many students applying for tertiary education, there are many well tested means to award places. Balloting is a good idea, fairly easy to use. A kind of COE, certificate of education, can be introduced and parents can bid for them for admission to tertiary institutions. Or a quota system, based on whatever criteria of race, language or religion, or parental status can be considered.

One thing for sure, foreign universities will be out of the picture as they will likely to continue to look at exam results which our students by then would not have. But never mind. Make sure our tertiary institutions are ranked number 1 to 4 in the world ranking and our students need not bother to go overseas for their education.

The more I write, the more brilliant this idea appears to be. I think I am now convinced that we don’t need school examinations at all.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good grades equal to nerds

Reading the article by Sandra Davie in the ST today, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that students who did well in tests and examinations, with good grades, are all nerds and lack creativity. Also they often do not do well in life.

This is the biggest problem in Singapore’s education system. Though we bragged about how world class it is, how other countries are copying our teaching material, and how our students are able to score straight As everywhere, even winning international competitions, in Science, Maths, General Knowledge and also in Law, don’t expect much from them when they grow up. All these will come to nothing as they enter the adult world. Many are destined to fail or become underachievers in real life.

Then where can we find all the creative and innovative people in Singapore? One sure place not to find them is the elite schools. Try the kitchens, the football fields, the night clubs, the world of the celebrities, there must be many creative and successful people in these fields.

We need more Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, failure academically but big success in life. Personally I doubt they will not be able to score straight As if they wanted to. This is the secret to creativity and success. We should throw out our top students half way through universities and give them a job in the industries. That is the sure way to trigger their creativity and later be successful innovators and inventors. There is no need for elite schools and top universities as their products will only be so so.

Parents of children who did not do well in schools must be relieved that their children will be the ones with more creativity and be more successful in life later. This is about the only piece of good news from the article.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2010 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Value for money education

For those who complained about higher tuition fees in the universities, they were assured that what they were paying for was for quality. Good education does not come cheap unless one is willing to accept lower quality education and paying less. This is the same logic in hospitals. You want world class medical services, be prepared to pay for world class medical fees.

Going backwards, the media had an interesting article on the fees parents are willing to pay for their children to attend pre schools. The fees can go up as high as $20k pa in the best pre schools, and this fee is higher than what undergrads are paying. But the parents are not complaining as their children will be getting the best education their money can buy.

For those who are paying $6k they can expect that their children will get the value of a $6k pre school education. And for those who are paying a few hundred bucks, don’t they dare to complain that the quality is only as good as the few hundred bucks they are paying. They pay for what they get. What else could they expect? Want quality, pay more lah.

By the time the children enter Primary One, the gap between those who attended the top end pre schools and those at the low end pre schools must be pretty obvious. Of course the top end pre school graduates will be smarter and betterer than those from the low end pre schools. Oh, top end pre school children would not know what betterer means.

Now many parents will have another thing to stress them up. Finding money to enrol their children in high end pre schools to give their little ones a head start in life. Good luck to them.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Child abuse in Singapore?

A letter by a Neo Leng Hui appeared in the Today paper appealing to the MOE to start primary school later. And with full day schools, shouldn’t this be easier? Whatever the ‘f’ reasonings, efficiency, convenience, parents can fetch the children before going to work, blah, blah, blah, the current system demands that many primary school children will have to be up by 6am or earlier to get to school on time.

The consequences of a system that compelled young children to wake up at the wee hours of the morning cannot be good. Those hours are meant for nocturnal animals. Even adults will have problems waking up in those hours. But clever adults think that it is ok for little children!
Waking up at those hours to rush to schools would mean that the children will have difficulties trying to eat their breakfast. The body system may not be ready to consume meals. And rushing food into the body can be a problem too. Very likely the children will have to pack their food to eat when they arrived in schools in more humanly hours.

It is not an uncommon sight to see little children slumping at the lift doors or the gates as they were barely await and trying to go back to sleep again. Some parents have to carry them all the way to the cars or buses where they could knock off again. These are terrible sights and a terrible thing to do to our little ones. But the experts in childcare and schoolings may think otherwise.

There are social problems too, in the dark hours of the day. Would the parents feel good and comfortable bungling their little ones out of their way to schools? Would it be more sanely and better for children to spend some decent times together during breakfast instead of rush rush and rush, or when the children were all half asleep?

Are we abusing our little children for their own good, to go to schools? The efficient tickling of the economic system is more important than the welfare of the little ones?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Straight A1s everywhere or is it inflation?

The recent O level results must have made many parents very happy. The students themselves no need to say, must also be very happy with the fruits of their labour. The teachers and schools too must be proud too that their efforts in educating the students were a scintillating success. And the MOE too can tell the world that our education system is the best in the world.

Maybe the students in Raffles, Hwa Chong and the other SAP schools would have a different kind of feeling. They have been robbed of a chance to own a piece of certificate that says, 10 A1s or 9 A1s. If they were to sit in the same exam, they may even get A1 stars. Being the crème ala crème of the cohorts, the MOE perhaps should devise something like an honorary certificate for them.

If the students of these top schools were also graded, we could literary throw a stone in a crowd students and hit a 10 A1s. There will be so many 10 A1s to the country proud. It will be another feather in the Guinness Book of Records for the number of 10 A1s and 9 A1s in an O level examination. And every year we can aspire for the record to be broken.

And we don’t have enough talents and need more foreign talents to improve our stocks. Aren’t our straight As students in the world’s best education system better than foreign talents from other countries? Maybe not. Many of the top students O level students are from foreign countries too.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Singapore University Education quality up

The tuition fees for Singapore universities and polytechnics will go up in the next academic year. The reason given is that the cost of providing quality education is going up.

The fee hikes range from 3% to 6% for universities and 2% to 3% for polytechnics. The increases for NUS and NTU were 4-6% which are higher than SMU’s 3%. At the rate it is going the quality of education in NUS and NTU will improve tremendously over that of SMU. And I can presume that SMU will have to improve its quality next year by higher fee increases just to catch up.

Students in NUS and NTU will be celebrating in the increasing quality of their education. Students in polytechnics will have to make do with only 2-3% improvement.

If university fees were a guide to the quality of the education provided, then the fee increase must be accelerated. Then it will only be a matter of time when the quality of our university education be betterer than the top universities in the West. And students who can afford to pay more for quality education will be flocking to this education hub for world best university education.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Chinese was the worst affected in MTL

As a group, the Chinese was the worst affected group by the Mother Tongue Language policy. Other than the numerous dialects spoken at home, many homes were using Malay or English, or any other languages except Mandarin. Mandarin was a foreign language to the majority of Singaporean Chinese who were mostly southerners. The peranakans spoke a mixture of Hokien and Malay and English.

When the policy was introduced, many Chinese children were caught in a very difficult position. The worst affected are the Babas and those who used mainly English at home. Many have opted for Hopson’s Choice and migrated, for the sake of their children’s education. For without a good pass in Mandarin, the door to tertiary education is closed. More importantly, the children would have to struggle with more tuition to try to make the grade. It was misery and a painful childhood to many Chinese children.

If any, the Chinese should be the group that would be shouting discrimination and being put in a very disadvantageous position vis a vis the other races. The Malays should have lesser difficulty in MTL as Malay is their mother tongue and spoken at home. I think the Indians too have quite a comparable problem with the Chinese as many spoke different dialects as well as English at home. Some of them also ended up migrating. They too did not shout discrimination. They have accepted the MTL policy grudgingly for national integration.

If the Chinese and Indians would have taken the MTL policy badly and protest strongly, the situation could become ugly. Thank god that the MTL issue has subsided and is now part and parcel of life here. There are still problems and are being sorted out. For the Chinese, dialects are disappearing with the passing of the grandpas and grandmas and the younger breed are now speaking English and Mandarin. The new citizens from China would only have to struggle with English.

I am not too familiar with the situation among the Indians. Tamil is not the only dialect that is being used at home. Now with the influx of the Northern Indians, there may be contention for the recognition of other Indian languages other than Tamil. This could present another situation as more non Tamil speakers become citizens. The situation among the Malays should be fairly the same then and now.
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