There’s been a fair bit in the MSM and new media about well-off S’porean parents being able to buy the best education that money can buy.
“I want to transform this country – to shake it up profoundly, so that the life chances of a child born today aren’t determined by how much their parents earn but by their potential, by their work ethic and by their ambition.”*
(*New Labour leader in Scotland who BBC reports as fairly centrist. Bear in mind the Scots are considered left of centre in the UK. So she’d be regarded in England as at least as left of centre. In S’pore the space occupied by the SDP.)
Once upon a time, we had something like “life chances of a child born today aren’t determined by how much their parents earn but by their potential, by their work ethic and by their ambition”. This is what Ravi, a Chiams’ Party candidate in the next GE said
I come from a disadvantaged family and went to work after completing my GCE ‘O’ Level, at the age of 16, despite qualifying for higher education. I worked as a store-hand making just $300 so that I can help my mother. With an absent father in my life, my mother was my hero, and being the eldest child, my sense of duty compelled and pushed me into the adult world.
Even then, I knew that education was the great leveller. I pushed myself and completed the GCE ‘A’ Level and other diploma courses while working. Today I hold a Bachelor of Arts (Management) from Heriot-Watt University.
The Singapore back then, the political leaders and policies back then, provided various opportunities for me and allowed me to dream. With hard work and perseverance, I rose from being a store-hand to be the Director of a welfare agency.
Our children and their children must not lose this ability to dream. Our leaders today are telling them that they don’t need a degree, that you can be a hawker, or a crane operator – that good qualifications no longer guarantee a good job. While saying all these, they are granting S-Passes, employment passes and permanent residency to foreigners with degrees.
With this being the situation now, what is the kind of a future that awaits our children? Will there be enough opportunities for them in their own country? Or will they be subordinate to better-qualified foreigners?
And do remember that in 2011 one Harry said:
Students from families with at least one or both parents being university graduates are likely to have a better learning environment.
The correlation was evident in statistics released when Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew visited Dunman High School on Monday.
Mr Lee also assured non-Chinese students that promoting the learning of the Chinese Language well was not meant to harm them.
The minister mentor has been visiting schools recently to gauge for himself the quality of Singapore’s education and whether Singapore is fair to everyone.
His first conclusion was that neighbourhood schools are as well-equipped with physical resources as “brand name” schools.
Secondly, he found that teachers are competent – even though the better ones may gravitate towards “brand name” schools.
Mr Lee said: “Of course, the better teachers gravitate to the ‘brand name’ schools because the status is higher and the principals scout out the better teachers, but in the neighbourhood schools they are equally competent.”
However, he commented on one area of difference – referring in particular to the educational background of parents.
He said: “”If both or at least one parent is university educated, the chances of the home background would be more favourably supportive, with books and all the paraphernalia that makes for a learning child.
“That is the situation we face – to get the lesser educated parents to understand that at an early stage, they must try to get their children accustomed to go to the library, reading, trying to get used to acquiring knowledge by themselves, and not being spoon-fed by the teachers.”
Mr Lee also released a table which showed the proportion of students who have graduate parents in some of Singapore’s leading and neighbourhood schools.
For “brand names” schools like ACS Independent, it is nearly 72 per cent; Dunman High 42 per cent and Raffles Institution 55 per cent.
At schools like Crescent Girls, the figure is about 50 per cent; and Victoria School 45 per cent.
On the other hand, for neighbourhood schools, the percentage of one or both parents being graduates ranged from 7 to 13 per cent.
During his visit to Dunman High, Mr Lee spent much of his time interacting with the students, finding out their family background, the language they spoke at home as well as among friends in and outside schools.
“What programmes do you watch on television or radio?” Mr Lee asked a student, who replied: “I watch mainly Channel 8 programmes with my family.”
Mr Lee has spent time over the years, emphasising that students need to do well in English – even as Singapore embraced a bilingual policy.
He said: “At the same time, we want to keep as much, as high a level of our mother tongue as possible. And in the case of the Chinese, it is an advantage because if you are proficient in Chinese, later on doing business in China is easier.
“But to juggle the two languages is no easy matter. But I emphasise English because I want the non-Chinese parents to understand that their children are not losing (out) when we say improve higher standards in Chinese. We are still an English-speaking, English-working society.”
More school visits have been planned for the minister mentor.