Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Radical Solutions Needed

Two questions on social inequality and mobility that came up during a Singapore Management University (SMU) forum on Tuesday night are worth highlighting.

Third-year student Ms Mathew said the Primary 1 registration system creates an uneven playing field for children as places are given first to those who live near the schools and whose parents are their alumni. She asked if the Education Ministry had plans to tackle this issue.

SMU alumnus Ong said he observed at a neighbourhood school that several students were too poor to buy red-and-white outfits to celebrate National Day, and asked if the Government had a clear policy on addressing the issue of social inequality.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, as expected, did not provide pertinent answers, but laid on the blame with a broad brush on Singaporean parents. He said: "Honestly, if parents' mindset is that there is only one good school in this place, whatever system of allocation, whether by proximity, by pure balloting, by whether you volunteer and all, that will not have any good outcome." Heng had his party issued blinkers on, ignoring the elitist elements in the school system.

He may not admit it in public, but not all schools are created equal. Even teachers are assigned according to their personal assessment by superiors - the less favoured being doomed to the neighborhood establishments where gangs proliferate and girls hawk their services for extra pocket money. A principal once told us not all the students at her school are wearing the new uniform just introduced because many could not afford the expense, and at least 800 were in arrears with the school fees. Needless to say, there were no posh cars in sight waiting to pick up their wards. A neighborhood school is not a place where you see maids carrying the kid's school bag.

Maybe we should just do away with the brand names, and just number them as Primary School 32, Secondary School 45 or Junior College 88. And buy lots of those American yellow buses to transport the students to schools all over the island, regardless of race, language or postal district codes.


  1. I like that numbering of schools and providing transportation.
    The entire priority given to children living near schools is so biasly stupid you have to wonder who come up with this grand idea. If oxford or stanford accepts do you think you are going to worry about how far is the traveling time going to take you there?
    So PAP to push the blame onto parents now when they were the creator of such elitist system.

  2. The idea of nearness is very simple, so that kids do not have to spend the time travelling and have more time to concentrate on studies or play.

    Even if you do away with names, it will end up the same because people want to go the school with the best achievements.

    What your comments show is that you do not care about the teachers who would prefer to have dedicated kids with humility.

    Teaching is just like any profession or population, there is a bell curve to it and Singapore system is just trying push the main bulk to a higher plateau.

  3. And because of this many budding "einsteins" and "Maria Mayer" are lost because of self serving self deluded narrow like fark thinking/policies...

    No wonder a hostile universe finds it so easy to get rid of man-kind / humanity in the end...all thanks to these narrow minded so called intelligent on paper but lacking the most critical item...real wisdom.

    Sad lah.

  4. The nearness of schools apply only at the primary level. My neighbor travels from Woodlands to Dover Road by train. Of course there's a nearer school at Yishun, but it's one of those non-branded types.

  5. What school you came from won't determine what your life will be like in the future. I came from ACS both primary and secondary and now I'm struggling in life.

    Education Is Not Just About Enrolling In A Branded School!

  6. This problem cannot be resolved since each has differ views. What is logical to you may not necessary be acceptable to others. So, you all can talk until the cows come home and none wiser. Let the system remain. At least it is a known and understood method of choosing a school.

    In any case, the critiria will not apply to Secondary and above. So, we should let it be.

  7. Dear Mr Mini-Bond
    I mean Minister of Education
    Since you managed to escape blame at your previous posting.

    Just keep the class sizes small.
    at 20 kids to a teacher.
    So kids can learn in school.
    Instead of at home from home tuition.
    This will level up the playing field.
    Since not all parents can afford home tuition.

    Can you do this?
    Or is the math too difficult for your elitist brain?

  8. Actually there was an attempt to reduce the class size. After a while, they realised it is too difficult to attain. So, Ministry of Education changed its stand and defended its position by saying there is no proof to suggest small class size will produce better students. It says the quality of teacher is more important.

    This is the problem. What Singaporeans all believe doe not count. Their version is the only solution and the right one too.

  9. "Actually there was an attempt to reduce the class size. After a while, they realised it is too difficult to attain."

    Dear Mr Mini-Bond (aka Minister of Education).
    Can you please enlighten us.
    Which is more difficult?

    Buying profitable foreign bank shares?
    Keeping class sizes small?

  10. Why should parents who are alumni be given priority?
    Just because your father/mother was a student should give you first line access to school places? imagine PAP says if the parents/relatives of politicians who are alumni should be given first consideration to run for elections - imagine how big a talent pool you are sourcing from? And then you complain that there is not enough talents who wants to come and serve without high pay!

  11. "Why should parents who are alumni be given priority?"

    This would not be a problem if schools were given sufficient resources to level up.

    Transparency Wanted
    How are good teachers assigned to each school?

  12. "//This would not be a problem if schools were given sufficient resources to level up//

    Again, people who has the resources (wealth) has the best or priority access to better schools, tools etc. Schools that do not have the support of the rich alumni would never be as good. So HSK can cut the wayang and pretend all schools are equally good. Who are we trying to kid.

  13. "Get out of my uncaring elite face", that's how our whole young generation of snobs are being groomed in elite schools.

    Is this a success of our PAP values system or a more a failure of our uniquely kiasu & kiasi education system, where parents even queued overnight for kindergarden places ?

  14. "Get out of my uncaring elite face"

    This type of sentiment is reminiscent of a type of political ideology that existed in Germany & Italy during World War 2.

    Recognize the lightning logo?

  15. just ask all the ministers if their kids are indeed coming from neighbourhood schools that are not so good or are they all from elite schools...but wait a min...I am sure they can owe properties that are close enough to any top schools..

  16. If you ever asked all kids whose father or mother are SIN Ministers please kee-chiu if they come from neighbourhood schools. Don't bother to count. Does it suggest, neighbourhood schools are as good as well known schools? You judge for yourself!

  17. Wah!
    Like that my kid also must join the elite schools.
    Rub shoulders and private parts with the elite.
    And become part of the Familee!!