Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Global champs in maths & science; so what?

In Uncategorized on 26/07/2016 at 6:54 am

If young S’poreans end up as chumps? Or rather unemployed PMETs, with FTs, some with fake degrees, getting the jobs because they are cheaper to hire?

FT had a long article (Article is on SgDaily’s FB wall) on S’pore’s education system: all the usual clichéd stuff that lazy journalists put out. The journalist should have read this post of mind before spewing BS.

But here be some gems in the muck.

This chart from the article shows that Israeli students are way, way behind our kids in maths and science tests. But where are IT, cybersecurity experts and entrepreneurs coming from? Certain;y not from S’pore but from Israel. Btw, NS there helps develop the relevant skills, not like here.

Take another example. Estonia is just below us, behind us but it’s a high-tech nation full of tech entrepreneurs. And it has a tinier population: 1.2m.


And one reader asked a relevant question:

How does Singapore do when creating people who can apply the maths they are so good at to actual progress? Theoretical physics etc? Are there are lot of top Singaporean research scientists using this maths around the world in leading research centres, or financial centres etc? Would be interesting to know. Otherwise you are just training people to pass exams, which is not exactly something to envy or emulate.

Another reader made this snaeky comment:

Horses for courses! Singapore’s requirements of its future citizens differ from the UK. Strategically Singapore, small and without natural resource endowments, has to think about attracting FDI and providing educated manpower towards meeting that goal.

As many commentators have raised, the Singaporean education system has not translated into any discernible  advantages in the theoretical sciences. Singapore also lacks the military-industrial complex, that has always proved crucial in funding – throwing money, at ideas. So as a future competitor the rest of the world can rest easy.

They’ll make good obedient workers – and students, though!

Then there’s this:

I used to interview a lot of students for the global graduate recruitment programme at my bank.  I came across a fair few from Singapore and think your comment is spot on.  You can tell that they would be very diligent employees and they were generally very competent at maths and the usual maths puzzles, but once you asked a question about for example geopolitical risks, they would often really flounder.  Since we were looking to recruit traders and risk managers, this was a big issue.

I’ll end with two S’poreans the author quoted, an unhappy, unimpressed parent, and a local academic:

A Singaporean bank executive and father of three, who asked not to be named, criticised a narrow focus on achieving top grades, which he regarded as the product of hard work as much as intelligence. “It’s a system that really channels you through the network as they deem fit. It’s their criteria, which is grades,” he says. “There’s nothing else. My question is: is that a fair assessment of someone’s capability? I don’t know whether you associate top grades with high IQ. I don’t think so.”


One academic at a Singapore university said many of his students had been fashioned into ‘learning machines’


He praised the system for developing good “technical skills” in maths and imparting facts but said there was an unhealthy emphasis on drilling children according to an approved method. In his experience, children were marked down for using their own methods to solve maths puzzles, even if the answers were correct, he said. “When they’re given a set of [maths] problems … some children turn to their own logic. And the answer’s right, but they’re considered wrong. You’re stifling someone’s ability to think for themselves. You’re like robots. You can’t think out of the box.”


*Note I disagree with the parent on “using 0wnself logic” because it may not work. When I was in sec 1, we were taught a maths certain technique. I tot there was a short cut, and the teacher took the trouble of showing that while the short cut works most of the time (he had difficulty finding an example of where my trick didn’t work), it can lead to a serious miscalculation. `







NatDay wish: Govt stop aping other places

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 08/08/2014 at 4:37 am

S’pore’s govt is forever trying to copy the successes of other places. Examples

— Israel’ and Silicon Valley’s tech prowess (forgot about Estonia meh?);

— Germany’s SMEs’ structure;

— China’s internet, social media censorship practices (thank god we got Yaacob, a Malay, doing it, not the People’s Voice, TKL who wants S’pore to adopt the Chinese practice of all bloggers and posters registering their identities with the govt before they can comment);

— Scottish biotech prowess (the imported Scots went home);

— Swiss standard of living (apparently we reached it but don’t realise it; costs compared); and

— American social conservatives’ values on family (though not on abortion).

The has been adding to global warming (all that hot air, and methane from BS) and a waste of effort, money.

The govt  should heed the words of a reader of the Economist (required reading of cabinet, civil service but apparently not Jason Chua and the other morons of that pro-PAP FB page, “Fabrications about the PAP”):

“What politicians and policymakers are looking for is a panacea. Imitating Germany will not work. There have been many attempts to imitate Silicon Valley, but no one has succeeded. It is impossible to copy the culture, thinking and collective experience found in a company or a country.”—on “German lessons”, July 12th 2014.

I could add that stopping aping might even help the PAP . I mean we like Israel got NS and high tech weaponry. But why we no got Iseal expertise in civilian high tech meh?. Btw, why NS and the welfare state go hand in hand.

The PAP should walk the talk of what DPM Teo said on 21 July

Singapore has to strengthen its track record of trust, knowledge, connectivity, and livability to attract global companies to set up shop in the country, but must also position itself where it can add most value, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

“To achieve sustainable growth, Singapore cannot simply continue to do more of the same, or to put in more resources in a linear fashion,” said Mr Teo, who was speaking at an annual scholarship award ceremony for the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Monday (July 21). (CNA)

The govt should remember that the world class port and the airport and the financial centre were developed without aping any other place. As was SIA, and Keppel Corp’s rig-building businesses. The starting point was the expertise already here, expertise that juz needed nurturing. And Dr Goh aped no-one when he developed Jurong and let the MBCs in.




Where NS leads to successful high tech start-ups

In Uncategorized on 17/09/2013 at 4:48 am

In S’pore, NS is often seen (esp by those doing it) as a waste of time and a source of cheap labour for public events like National Day, F1 and the Kiddie Games.

In Israel, which is surrounded by hostiles threatening to destroy the nation, NS is seen as impt not only for the defence of nation and the Jewish tradition, but also as a training ground for budding high tech entrepreneurs:

Inside the HQ of the Mamram, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) technical support unit in nearby Ramat Gan, computer training course commander … says new recruits on a six-month intensive programming course study from dawn till night and are taught programming skills, teamwork, project management and – most importantly how to be creative. It’s like a school for start-ups.

“When you do a degree in computer science you study the technical things,” she says. “You study how to write a code, mathematics. We don’t focus on that. We focus on how to work in a team. How to understand what your client needs and make software that fits his demands. How to write good code that you will be able to de-bug and maintain.”

Tal Marian, founder of the TechLoft, a commercial shared workspace just off Rothschild, says the results of the military training are obvious. “Some of the military units work like a civilian organisation,” says Marian. “They encourage entrepreneurship, the feeling that if you come up with a good idea that answers a real need of that unit’s mission, you will get the funding and manpower and the time you need.”

After years of helping to solve the nation’s major security threats, the challenges of gaming and mobile apps pale by comparison, he adds.


“Entrepreneurs in Israel are unique,” he says. “Their approach to problems is different to others because the army is a huge incubator for innovation and entrepreneurship. The army gave us a few million dollars at the age of 18 and asked us to build technology and systems that address problems that only people 10 or 20 years older are dealing with in other parts of the world. That kind of pressure and challenge really brings a lot of things out of you.”

Tal skipped university to work at a start-up before launching his own, but another important driver of the tech scene is the fact that Israeli university students pay only about $3,100 (£2,000) a year in tuition fees. They emerge from military service and three years of studying with zero debt, eager to take a year off to pursue their dreams.

That youthful exuberance, combined with the rigorous military training in technology and project management, has found a natural home among cafes running down the centre of Rothschild.

When one Tony Tan was DPM a few yrs back, he visited Israel to learn the secrets of building a high tech entrepreneurial culture. Obviously he wasn’t brought to Rothschild Boulevard, or the IDF unit. Obviously, they must have been state secrets then. We know he visited Israeli research institutes and signed shume MOUs.


The IDF has already changed enormously in recent years. Its largest unit, 8200, is focused on cyber-warfare.