Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Singapore Education 2016 v1.0

With two young ministers fresh from the election oven put in charge of education, things are going to be hot and exciting. A one minister ministry may find the excuse of being overloaded and no time to do much, two ministers mean a lot of spare capacity to do more, to do new things. In the media on 20 Dec, it was reported that changes will take place in the next 5 years to revamp primary school education to scale down emphasis on academic results and to provide more time for students to pursue their interests in and out of schools.

Why the change? The media reported that the policy came amid expectations from educators, parents and the pupils to revamp the current system based strongly on academic results. I read this simply that the new education policy is determined by the educators, parents and the pupils, what they want the education to be. Fair enough, and the ministers are just appeasing them, and must agree with them. It must be, for if the ministers have different ideas of what education of children is like, they would want their views to be part of the input. Then the education policy will be the result of the expectations of the ministers, educators, parents and the pupils.

As the changes are for primary education, I think it is fair and harmless. The educators, parents and pupils and the ministers can decide what they like for the children. What about secondary and higher education? Who should determine what higher education should be like, to meet whose expectations? Should the policies of higher education be determined by the expectations of the professors in the academia, the parents, the students and the ministers? Or should they also include the expectations of the employers, what the employers want and expect from the education system? Would the expectations of the employers be the most important element in determining what higher education and its products to be like as they are the ultimate users of the products of the education system? If not, they may say, no relevant skill sets, unusable, need to find those with relevant skill sets in less pretentious schools from the 3rd world villages. Then our graduates would end up as temp job seekers or selling hamburgers at fast food joints. Then how?

A mismatch will be obvious if the policy of higher education is to meet the expectations of parents and students, or even the academics when their interests and expectations could be totally misaligned with the expectations of the employers.

While the policy of primary education is changing, I hope they will invite the employers to have a say as to what they want from the education system and we don’t end up with misfits from the higher education system that are not what the employers want. We are having this problem now, and some are very serious ones like the dearth of IT and banking and finance talents that no one seems to be responsible or accountable for it.  At primary level the blame can be put to the parents and students for wanting to have a fairy tale education disconnected with the realities of adult education and employment. At higher education, there is no luxury to mess around with the pragmatic and functional objectives of education.

The victims of past flirtations with dysfunctional education models and policies that are detached from the realities of adult life and leading to the lost generations of talents for IT and banking and finance industries must not be allowed to be repeated.  No more fooling around please. Education of the young is a very serious matter and there is a big divide between education for education’s sake, education that parents and students would love to have, and education to earn a living, education to meet the needs of the industries.

PS. I will love to decide my own education, read whatever I like, no exam, have a lot of fun and experimenting, if I don’t have to work for a living.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

MOE, MOM and WDA restructured

The double reporting of WDA to MOE and MOM has been straightened out with WDA now reporting to MOE under Ong Ye Kung. Ong Ye Kung will not be the Coordinating Minister for MOE/MOM/WDA and SkillsFuture training to make sure MOE is training graduates with the right skills for the industries and not ending up skillless, got talent and a lot of knowledge but no employers want to employ them.

The above was yesterday’s news. Today, MOE is overseeing Pre-employment training(PET) and continuous education and training(CET) under a new stats board called Skills Future Singapore(SSG).  The Workforce Development Agency will now become Workforce Singapore, a new stats board under the MOM. It would retain the former role of WDA, ie employment facilitation, career services and industry engagement.  These two stats board would solve the problems of employment faced by Singaporeans trained with skills not wanted by employers.

I really hope it is so simple, train the people with the right skills and the employers would happily employ them instead of foreigners. I am sure anyone with a little commonsense would know the real reasons why our talented young graduates are not employed but foreigners are in demand. And it is not just cheap labour. Cheap labour could be one of the reasons, but there are other more sinister reasons that dumbasses would not want to see.

I bet, even if all our graduates are trained with all the skills employers need and willing to accept competitive pay, they will still be passed over just like what is happening today. I was going to suggest that Ong Ye Kung send an army of teachers and civil servants to the 3rd World countries to find out why they are producing the right graduates with the right skills and talents that our industries and govt agencies are so happy to employ. Of course this is just a red herring when stupidity is the reason.

I am asking the same question aloud once more. Why are 3rd world half baked education system able to produce the workers that a first world city needs? And why are our students paying for a very expensive education, educated in world best universities and did not have the skills ‘OUR’ employers want? If the 3rd world countries are doing the right thing, then I would suggest that everyone in MOE and the world class universities be sacked. They are not doing the right thing, producing unfits, dysfunctional graduates that cannot be used by the industries. And we should send a team of educators to the 3rd world countries to learn from them, from their cheap education system, teaching little but producing the right graduates for our system.

Of course the half baked 3rd world education systems are no match to our world class super expensive system. Then what is wrong? I bet on one knows. That is why they are still scratching the wrong balls without addressing the real problem. If they know what is wrong, dare to face the truth, and stop being stupid, there is no need to waste time setting up two new stats boards to engage in shadow play.

Yes, they said stupidity has no cure. Anyway, let’s hope Ong Ye Kung knows what is happening and could save the day like Boon Wan saving the housing problems by simply building more flats. The reason or solution to Singaporean graduates and PMEs being sidelined and unemployed is so basic and easy, as easy as building more flats. No need to muck around and fighting with shadows. Tiok boh?

Super expensive world  class education producing dysfunctional graduates not fit and not wanted by the industries? And everyone is running around like bull arses flies, looking so busy, and scratching the wrong balls.

And they forgot to set up a COI to study what is wrong!
 
 

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Why school is written as skool?


Has anyone wonder why skool is the new word for school? I think it is cute, just like writing govt as garment and yew think everyone will appreciate the creativity of the word. My First Skool must be the first step to creativity. To promote creativity, to be different like yew know ya, everything goes. If our skools will progress along this line we will have many Steve Jobs and Bill Gates or Zuckerbergs in the future, provided no one will snuff out this creativity streak in the young. I am not going to challenge the professional educators on why this is a good thing or a bad thing.

The young minds are innocent and impressionable and skool would be in their vocabularly for life. What about the adults who would view things differently, maybe cynically. Some are already commenting that this is a Freudian slip, that our schools are really nothing but skools. They are not schools any more but this new thing called skool and not sure what it means or what it is doing.

What is a skool and what is it supposed to produce, Stool or R2D2? R2D2 is famous for being a mobile storehouse for information and data. Not sure if it is programmed to think, but it sure is a remarkable robot that is a super encyclopedia. Whatever that is fed into R2D2 will come out like stool, freely and smoothly, not a word or a comma missing.


Would our schools be transformed over time, into skools as a natural process? What do yew think?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Schools raise cut off points for admission

The PSLE result was so good that top secondary schools have to raise their cut off points for admission. Many PSLE graduates were disappointed after doing so well and thinking that they could get admitted only to be thwarted by the new cut off points. And at the other extreme, 7 schools need not raise their points and did not receive enough students to run their classes. Even if they were to lower their cut off points, it would not make any difference. The MOE is now having a different kind of headache on what to do with these schools. Should they be merged or close down?

The exceptionally good results of our students, and kudos to the schools and the teachers, are not a once off phenomenon. The trend has been consistent for the last 4 decades. The funny thing is that we have lost one whole generation of industry leaders. According to the foreign recruiting agents, not Singaporean recruiting agents, we don’t have talents and the only talents they could find are in the 3rd World villages. And if you want them to do any placement, they will go scouring the little villages where talents are plentiful, especially in banking and finance and also IT, to give you the best. They just can’t find the talents they need from the local cohorts that were famed for their straight As. I dunno what happened to these bright students when they grow up? Becoming part time employees or doing temp jobs?

And the loss of talents is not confined to just IT, banking and finance. It is across the board. Even top postman job must go to foreigners, top gardeners job, top animal keepers jobs, curators of junks, oops I mean antiques,  etc etc must also go to foreigners. And foreign talents are starting to fill the politicial positions as well. That is how good our education system has become. And not a single Singaporean dares to dispute this fact, that we don’t have local talents for top jobs. Maybe in 30 years time. They have just planted the shoots and waiting for the harvest in 30 years time. Yes, in 30 years time we will have local talents for top jobs. Don’t worry.

For those who just completed their PSLE, in 30 years time they will be about 40 years old, just about right. They will be just in time to be the top talents Singapore is waiting for.

Oh, what about the schools that cannot attract students and facing a bleak future of no students? Not to worry. I have several solutions. One simple one is to go to 3rd World countries and offer them scholarships to pick up the village best to be our future talents. There is only one problem, or maybe not a problem, only a paradox. These village talents will shine if they continue to stay in their village school system and when they graduated, they will be headhunted to be our foreign talents. But if they are to study here, in our world best education system, would they score straight As like our local students but ended up with no talent and unemployable like our local students?

The village talents must think very hard on which is the better system that will bring out their best. From experience and empirical data, it is better that they stayed in the village school system that will turn them into top grade foreign talents for this city state.  And they can say, cheap and good, a cheap education but with excellent results.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Singapore Education – There is nothing wrong with it

There is a wise saying, don’t fix it if there is nothing wrong. And that is exactly what is happening to our education system. What is so wrong with our education system that needs fixing? The only thing I can see is that they are trying to do too much with our students, wanting every child to be a superman. Actually more than superman, they want them to be man of steel, can sing and can dance, can be artist, can be engineers or scientists or what not, all rolled into one. And that this not all, they want to be mountain climbers, adventurers, humanitarians and entrepreneurs.  Come off it, ask yourself if you can even be good in two of the items mentioned. What happens is that a child would not have time to be good in anything. But then that is not true either. Our children, the best of the best, are extremely talented in their pursuit of excellence. They know what they want and what matters and would not be made a fool and be misled into doing the unnecessary. Their straight As are not flukes and confirmed by all the best universities in the world.

What then is wrong with our education system and policies? No, there is nothing wrong. It is the reckless and irresponsible policies of hiring rubbish from around the world and calling them talents and treating our children as no talents. How silly can they be? We have the best universities and a no nonsense examination system that would not allow cheatings or buying of fake certificates and degrees, and we go around the world, into little villages and slum cities to dig into their dustbins to pick up the craps, bring them home and call them talents. And we replaced our own talents, strong in the hard disciplines with cheap talkers with fake degrees?

Now there is this myth that is circulating like a bad joke. Singaporeans have no talents, no skill sets, unemployable, not good enough for top management. The best are from unknown village universities. The big question is that no one, not a single turkey in authority, in the govt, in business, in the academia, not a single educator, is brave enough or sensible enough to talk back. No one thinks this nonsensical myth needs to be debunked. No one thinks it is his duty and responsibility to defend our education system, that the products of our education system are genuine, the real mccoys, no bluff, that they are really good stuff. They choose to believe in this myth, that the products of our education system are rubbish, unusable, unemployable.

When the sick jokers from the 3rd World come here to insult and rubbish our talents, calling the products of our world class education system as duds, while the fakes are brought in to replace them, everyone nods his head like a donkey, like hearing a gospel truth.

Would there be anyone standing up to defend our education system? Would the govt put this right by new policies to ensure our best are employed in good jobs and not be turned into temporary staff or be underemployed?  If the govt also believes in this myth, that we have no talents and the products of our world best education system are duds, no amount of tweaking and magic will be able to make our students better. They are already the best of the best. But we allowed others to put a dounce hat on them and called them no talents.

Did anyone get what I am saying? Did anyone see anything wrong with our education system and policies and the stupidity of our employment policies? If they cannot see anything wrong, they would be barking up the wrong tree, blaming our education system, that the products of our education system are a waste of time and resources.

Who is responsible for this mess and to perpetuate this silly myth at the expense of our citizens and their well being?

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Tweaking or major changes to the Education Policy?

We have been hearing a lot of noise about what the education system should be like and how this new ideal education system will be good for the students and the future of the country.  We have had many education ministers and everyone went into the ministry, poked their fingers here and there and claimed that things would be better. The plight of our graduates not getting good jobs, not employable, dearth of talents in banking and finance, in IT and in dunno what industries speaks for itself. Can I safely say that our education system and policies to date are a big flop despite the glowing comments, achievements and accolades showered on us, and the students aceing their exams here and overseas in the best universities?

No, I am wrong, our education is the best in the world or among the best in the world? Really, then why are the new ministers talking about more changes and more good things to come? Ong Ye Kung said, ‘Singapore is in a position to develop its own system by combining the best of examples set by other countries.’ Did the past education ministers did this? No? Must be or else there is no need to talk about it now.

So, who has the best system for us to copy? The rigours of European education or the pragmatism of the American system? Actually in reality both the European and American systems are not that good except in the ranking systems and the biases built up over the years that they were good. The best education today is in India. The proof is in the pudding. Just look at the flood of Indian talents into our country. You can see them everywhere, in the private sector and the public sector, they are the leading light to bring Singapore forward to the next century. They have all the talents we need.

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel and hope for the best. Just adapt the Indian education system and we will have all the talents we need to bring the country forward.  Stop messing around and sending more missions overseas to study other country’s education system. We know which country has the best education system and we have been sending our recruitment agents there to get the best here.

But of course if change is a must, then think very carefully what education is all about. It would be good if education is just for education’s sake, to get an all round education. They called it holistic, hopefully not full of holes. Very few of our young have millionaire ministers as parents and can get a holistic education and no need to work after graduation. We do not need an education that produces misfits and duds that are not employable like what we are seeing today.

The most important thing said by Ong Ye Kung is this, ‘…One that requires employers, education institutions and training providers and society to more in tandem.’ What is the key missing in our education system today? Two words, employers and tandem. The educationists or MOE can have all their wet dreams of what education is all about and what they want. They can be very holistic to produce graduates who know a little of everything but in reality nothing, no skills. A wholesome person, knows a bit of this and that but no core skills that the employers want. Why would employers want such holistic graduates that did not have the skills they want? This could be the reason why the employers are going into little villages all over the 3rd World, to dig into their dustbins, and say, these are the talents we need and want.

The employers must have a say in the education system. Or the employers must be handcuffed and told, you employ our graduates from our holistic system. Without the employers involved, without pointing a gun at the head of the employers to employ our best graduates from our world best education system, we are wasting the time and money of our children to get an education that would end up as a piece of paper, cannot be eaten.

It is ok to fool around, oops, sorry, wrong choice of words, on our education system. Let’s be real. Make sure their education ends up with good employment or make sure the employers must employ them. Be mindful of what you do to the education system and the lives of our young. This is not play play thing. Not masak masak. Many of them need to earn a living after passing out from our education system.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Education – Reading the news on the coming changes in education with trepidation

Two new ministers, freshly baked from the election have taken over the MOE and hard at work at changing and redefining education that will alter the fate of our young. These are very bright men and their intelligence cannot be underestimated, and the public must presume that they know what they are talking about and what they are going to do to our young. They must have come with the skill sets, the necessary qualifications and experience in education to do what they are going to do. The education of our young is no masak masak and can make or break their lives and the future of Singapore.

We have had several great ministers in the MOE with great slogans like holistic education, teach less learn more and all kinds of jest or jazz in the past and our education system is now world class or world best, if the rankings are to be believed. The only few success factors today are more qualified taxi drivers and security guards and ‘no talent or skill sets’ in important professions and industries. The damage, they did not call it damage, is that we will need another generation to produce the needed talents for our industry.  We are so short of IT, finance, banking and medical professionals despite the claims of doing a great job in education that our standards in these professions and fields are now compromised by half bakes from the 3rd World filling the ranks.

With the new ministers and the new changes, would we continue to under produced or produced the wrong kinds not needed by the industries and economy? Or would it be another few generations and with more professions and industries being hollowed out?

Our holistic education, or hollow education, is turning out jacks of all trades and masters of none, and incompatible to the needs of the industry.  There are many good reasons for good quality education. But yes, education should not be just for the pursuit of a piece of paper that cannot be eaten. It must be a piece of paper that can be eaten or give the product from the system a good life, good jobs and professions, and be the best they can be.  I only think like that in my dreams.

The luxury of a holistic education is only good for those who do not need to work, no need to get a job, and education is for education’s sake. Many people still need to put food on the table and education is the means to that, to move up the social ladder, to uplift their stations in life. Isn’t that so, education the greatest leveler? Have no doubts about that, not everyone is a son or daughter of a millionaire or have parents who are millionaire ministers and want an education for the sake of getting an education and no need to get a job.

How much can we teach, what to teach, to get a good job and how much to enjoy education, to develop a better individual, a holistic person, a renaissance man or woman, needs to be carefully calibrated. We have failed in many areas in our education policy to the extent that we have no talents or not enough talents in many critical fields when good young men and women were wasted to spend time and money reading things they did not like or wanted to do. And while they are wasting their lives away in regrets, many half baked foreigners and foreigners with fake degrees and qualifications are brought in to replace them. The wasted generations due to clever or silly tweaking of our education system and policies are a sorry sight and state of affair.

It is very brave to jump into the deep end and start to think like a wise man or genius, a ‘knows all’ and trying to mend or bend the education system into another mould. It is better to think carefully, deeply, sleep on it or dream on it for a while, take your time before messing around with our education policies and the future of our young. Know where we are before thinking of going any where.

Should our young be excited by the impending great changes in our education policies and system or should they be shivering in fear of being experimental guinea pigs again?

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Singapore students brightest in the world

Can you believe it? Of course I can.  And not I said one. The Mypaper reported this on 8 Oct 15, ‘In a  programme this week, American television station CNN examined an official finding that named Singapore’s  secondary school students as the brightest in the world, by interviewing international experts.’ Can this be bluffing? No, Singaporean students have been consistently topping in international assessments and competitions and scoring very well in top American and British universities and universities across the world.

Only fools in Singapore believed that Singaporeans are talentless, no skill sets, unemployable and unfit to fill top management positions. Don’t ask me who are the fools? And there believe in the comments and remarks of 3rd World trash that Singaporeans are unfit to work in Singapore and should be replaced by 3rd World villagers that are mostly fakes and cheats.

I do not want to elaborate more. We have the best education system and universities but producing duds. How to explain that? Ask the fools. And our PMEs, with years of experience and track records to prove, are now only good enough to drive taxis or to be retrained to be counter sales people or security guards? How did this happen? Don’t ask me, ask the fools.

I believe the assessments of the experts mentioned above and we have all the track records to prove that our students are the best in the world. Not duds! So what is wrong? Either our universities and education system are so flawed and designed to produce duds, or our PMEs and graduates are being cheated in the employment market. And the fools continue to believe that the Singaporeans are daft and unemployable, and they will continue to go to the whole world to hire less talented people, cheats and fakes to replace our real talents.

The fools in Singapore believed in the fools of the 3rd World and not in the talent of Singaporeans. Or I shall put it in another way, the fools in Singapore are easily conned by the fools of the 3rd World.

This is Uniquely Singapore.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fee hikes in pre schools and also hikes for non citizens in schools

The cost of pre schools will go up next year in the two top preschools, the NTUC My First Skool and PAP Community Foundation or PCF. The hikes range from $28 in PCF and $34 in My First Skool for childcare and $14 and $48 for infant care respectively.  However, the upper limits of $720 and $1275 for pre school and childcare will still be in force. Industry average fees for the two categories of care are $900 and $1343 per month.

School fees for Singaporeans will remain unchanged but PRs and non citizens would have to pay more as the govt step up effort to differentiate citizens from PRs and foreigners.  Singapore citizens will pay $5 and $6 per month for primary and secondary school fees.

Children of PRs and non citizens will pay $550  per month for primary education and $800 for secondary education on top of a miscellaneous fee at $6.50 for primary, $10.00 for secondary and $13.50 for pre university students.

The school fees for govt schools are still very low compared to private international schools that charged between $25,000 to $40,000 annually.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why build universities?

Yes, why would govt and people build universities? To ask this question here is already a sign of strong misgivings and a sense of despair. It is so pathetic to have to ask such a question, but it must be asked. Would anyone expect me to list down the reasons here why govt and people built universities? Anyone who can read and understand this question would be most able to provide himself all the answers to it. The reasons for building a university are so fundamental and so basic that there should not be any need to raise it again. The very fact that it has to be raised is proof that something is seriously wrong with the universities and the important role and purpose for their existence.

If anyone still demands an answer, pay a visit to the Chinese High School in Bukit Timah. Read the carvings inscribed in stones at the entrance of the main building. Yes, they were set in stones like the Ten Commandments as if the pioneers knew that people down the ages would forget the purpose of building the school. The very reasons for building the Chinese High School are the same reasons why universities were built.

In 1958, hundreds of thousands of people marched to Jurong to witness the opening of Nantah, 南洋大学. Millionaires like Tan Lark Sye, 陈六使, donated $5m to build the university. This princely sum could be the equivalent of $5b today in purchasing power. The Chinese community, from the rich towkays to the dance hostesses and rickshaw pullers also answered the call for donation for the university. Why would every one of them think it important enough to want to contribute to this cause, to build a university?

The reasons for building Nantah were not different from the reasons to build the University of Singapore and the renamed Nanyang Technological University. There are now many new universities, many built for commercial reasons and did not share the common altruistic goals of Nantah and the University of Singapore, now NTU and NUS. The commercial universities can be excused for doing things differently as their purposes are slightly different with money making a key objective. The purpose of building universities like NUS and NTU may have changed to some degrees, but the fundamental and basic reasons for their reasons must not changed.

Have they changed? Some may be thinking that the universities existence is to be ranked highly by farcical ranking organizations and to gain frivolous honours for being ranked among the best. Is this the reason for the building of universities?

Again I would ask, what is the purpose of building universities? Have our universities lost their direction and purpose of existence? Universities are not like F1 or Garden by the Bay, some feel good stuff for the rich to have a little fun and fake importance. They have very important roles to play in the lives of the people and the well being of the country.