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.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

NUS ranked 94th, NTU unranked in Reuters ranking of universities

The timing of this ranking by Reuters cannot come at a better time when some were drunk by the QS rankings believing that NUS and NTU were really top universities in the world. And Times Higher Education ranked NUS at 25th and NTU at 61st.  On the other hand the Academic Ranking of World Universities put NUS at 101 – 150 band and NTU at the 151 - 200 band. The differences in rankings were due to the factors used.

I would believe if there is a ranking based on gaming ranking systems, our universities would surely be ranked 1st and 2nd or some where up there at the very top. If the ranking is based on having the most modern infrastructure and modern equipment and facilities, NUS and NTU would rank ahead of the best in the UK and USA. The same too if the ranking is based on having the most foreign academic and administration staff in a local university.

But if the rankings would to be based on skill sets of graduates and employability of graduates, and the ability to produce top quality finance and banking professionals, NUS and NTU would rank somewhere in the 500s or 1000s. Hundreds of universities in India, China and the Philippines and other 3rd World universities would rank higher than NUS as their graduates are much sort after here with the right skill sets for employment. Maybe some degree mills would also rank higher as their graduates are also accepted without checking by some organizations, and probably with NUS and NTU graduates working under them and reporting to them. I said, probably, as I have no data to support this. Please feel free to disagree.

So what is so good about rankings? One thing, if there is a lack of substance, go for the superficial. As long as it looks good, sounds good, it is worth the money spent, event at the expense of getting rid of Singaporean academic core and sacrificing places that should go to our children but go to foreigners.

What do you think?

Friday, September 18, 2015

University rankings good but not the key objectives

Hsien Loong said this at the Nanyang Technology Institute’s reunion dinner, ‘The key performance indicators (KPIs) of universities in the Republic should not be about how high their rankings are, but how well they serve Singapore.’ This is like what is so good about high rankings if they did not serve the interest of Singapore and its people? And what are these interests, jobs, skill sets, building a Singaporean core in all fields and industries.

What if high rankings lead to a hollowing of the quality pool of Singaporean academics and university students? What is the point to providing so many good paying employments to foreigners at the expense of Singaporeans, of providing good university places to foreigners instead of to our children? A good comparison is the ranking of our media by foreigners. Never mind if we are ranked 146, a few notches from the bottom, if the media are serving national interests, the good of people and country.

He then reiterated the importance of university KPIs as: "Rather, the KPI should be how well the universities serve Singapore. Whether they are academically and intellectually rigorous and vibrant, yet develop an authentic Singaporean character. Whether they give Singaporeans a good education, not just academically but holistically, building skill sets relevant to the economy so that people can get good jobs and fulfil their aspirations….’

It is sad that the Prime Minister had to say this to remind our supposedly very intelligent academics in the academia not to waste money on superficial rankings, on providing good jobs to foreigners and hollowing our academic talent and resources. Isn’t this a crime against the people? Using public funds to feed foreigners and replacing our own academics in the universities? Get your priorities right!

Would Tharman stand up and say ‘Cheap, we have no local talents in the universities and we need 30 years to get it right again like not Singaporean bankers and finance talents?’ Shit, I shouldn’t use the word ‘local’. It should be ‘Singaporeans’ and not meant to include PRs. We need to grow our own timber if we are going to survive as a people who called ourselves Singaporeans and this island home. If not, yes, we would be just a hotel for foreigners and we become the prostitutes servicing them and saying thank you to them for patronising us, and we pay them for it.

Is this not what Hsien Loong meant when he said, and I quote: “(While) at the same time, imbuing in students and alumni a sense of loyalty and belonging to Singapore, a sense of purpose in their lives, so that people are rooted here - with networks, friends and family - and want to give back to Singapore." You don’t expect foreigners to sink roots here and be one of us, to give back to Singapore when they are here for the good time and waiting to make their pile to return home. A few foreigners would be good, but we can’t expect too many to stay, and it is also no good if we have to depend on foreign talents to stay. This is an easy way out to increase our talent pool but would discourage the growing of our own talents. And what is there then for our own people if this is the case?

Don’t give me that globalisation and borderless shit. Treason is the word for these naive terminologies. The quitters and nomads like to use them to rubbish the citizen’s right in their own countries.  If not careful, and still blindly going down the road of bringing in more foreigners, one day the daft Sinkies would be like the refugees marching to Europe, people without a place called home, kicked out from their countries they once called home.

Monday, September 14, 2015

NUS and NTU better than Yale and Cornell Universities

According to the latest Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, NUS and NTU ranked above Yale, Cornell, Johns Hopkins and King’s College of London. NUS is not only the top university in Asia but ranked 12th in the world.  NTU is ranked 13th.  What a great achievement! Beida, Xinhua, Tokyo, Waseda, Hongkong, move aside. We have the best universities in the whole world. There is no need to go to the US or UK to get quality education. No need to waste money going to lowly ranked universities in Australia and the rest of the world.  That is, if you believe the ranking equates to quality of universities and quality of its output, ie students.

The criteria for the rankings are academic and employer reputations, student to faculty ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international student ratio and also research excellence. How would these criteria affect or benefit the students? Academic and employer reputations, presumably the graduates are highly sough after by employers. Is that so? We only know that our junks did not have the right skill sets and are often rejected by employers that preferred to hire from the 3rd World unranked universities. Fake degrees and degree mills also better, or can do.

Student to faculty ratio, presumably a smaller ratio would mean closer and personal attention on the students and can be translated to better grades. Enrol Ah Meng and check if better student to faculty ratio would make Ah Meng smarter. Citations per faculty and research excellence would mean better academics and thus benefit the students and their quality. Use the Ah Meng to confirm if this is also true. International faculty ratio and international student ratio, both imply that with more foreign faces, the universities are better. So just pump in more 3rd world lecturers and students also can. How would these improve the quality of the graduates, more international friends, can relate and socialize with foreigners better, easier to integrate with them? EQ is important, what about grades?

What the rankings said is that we are world best. When we were not world best, we need to borrow international names, pay them, bring the whole faculties here, to say we have world best universities. Now we can do the reverse, the universities of the world would want to have joint campuses with us, bring our whole faculties to their countries and pay them good rupiahs, rupees and renminbis. Maybe can get Japanese Yen also.  There will be many joint campuses in other countries with the NUS/NTU brand and our lecturers would be in demand. We can send all our foreign lecturers to these countries and hire more foreign lecturers to replace them. What about Singaporean lecturers? What is that?

My recommendation, there is no need to send our students to the universities. The employers would still not hire them. Maybe in 30 years time. So a better recommendation would be to send them to the unranked universities in the 3rd World. That is where the employers find all their good employees. Not in our world class top universities.

Why so funny? Paying for such good reputation but no market value, no demand. If the high rankings would lead to a situation where the employers are queuing up to snatch all the graduates from our top universities then it would make sense. To be real, to be able to get employed, it is better to go to universities in the 3rd World and sign up with employment agencies from the 3rd World given a licence to operate here. They are the game changer. They will get the applicants the right jobs, not the piece of paper from our top universities. They still cannot produce the right graduates with the right skill sets for the job market.

Maybe the Quacquarelli Symonds System may want to add a new criteria, the universities must produce graduates with the right skill sets for the job market. If their graduates are not wanted by the employers, did not have the right skill sets, give them a big F.

What do you think? Are we wasting public money for the wrong things, for a superficial branding without substance?

PS. Watch MIT, Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, we are going to over take you. We will bring in more foreign faculty staff and foreign students to improve our rankings further. And watch out students, the fees will increase with the improvement in quality, I mean rankings.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How to con the daft people

I will use a simple example to illustrate how easy it is to con the daft people. As Sun Tzu wrote, know your enemy know your strength, winning is assured. Take the case of education, knowing that the daft people are all for glory, to be Number One for the right or wrong reasons,  and better still if this can be bought by money, just sell the glory to them. You can find it in many fields. Let me show you how it can be done.

Tell the daft people you can make their universities ranked among the top universities in the world, practically for free.  Whatever that means, no need to bother with the cost and returns and any adverse consequences. And tell them with a little effort their universities can even rank higher than Cambridge or Harvard, you can put them into your pocket. But don’t tell them there is no free lunch. They did not know there is no such thing as free lunch although their idol founding father had told them many times. And to tell them that they could get it for free, my goodness, you can literally see their saliva turning into ponding.

The method is like this. Tell them to subscribe to your ranking system. Tell them it is an internationally recognized system, reputable some more. And if their universities are ranked among the tops, it is something to be proud of, very prestigious, never mind if the students turned out to be duds, unemployable. That is the students’ problem, not your problem.

Once they are sold, tell them to hire foreigners, at least 30% or more, to give the universities an international feel and look. Foreigners are always seen as better than the daft locals. The grass is always greener over the fence. Then tell them to bring in foreign students also, 30% or more the merrier. Con them to believe that with the presence of foreigners, somehow their students would become smarter or appear to be smarter and the universities will somehow become better or more reputable. And the universities would also be more desirable.

When they swallow this line of conning, they would go back and do all the silly things without thinking. They would sack their own citizen lecturers and hire foreign lecturers at higher pay to turn the universities into foreign universities to serve foreign interests. Never mind, it is OPM. And if their citizen lecturers lost their jobs, tell them they are not good enough and they themselves are to blame. See, providing employment to foreigners against the interest of their citizens they would also do.  Maybe they also think that the country belongs to the whole world, so what is the problem of the universities belonging to foreigners. Whose money is being spent to feed the foreigners, who cares? Then 20 years forward, they would find out that they don’t have local talents in the universities like in the banking and finance industries. Then they will start to talk about planning ahead for a citizen core like real.

What about foreign students? Who cares? As long as they are good for the university’s ranking, if no foreign students want to come, they would use taxpayer’s money to pay for the foreign students to come. And they would not even spare a thought at the thousands of places they are snatching away from the children of their citizens. As long as the university ranking is high, they would claim they have achieved something, done well, for who never mind. Our universities are world class.

The net effect would be the hollowing of local lecturers in the universities and many children of the citizens being deprived of university places. And the foreigners will be laughing themselves silly for the easy money they are getting. Where in the world got govt allowing universities to pay, train and nurture foreigners using tax payers’ money? How would all these affect the interests of the citizens is of no concern. And they may even put up letters by grateful foreign lecturers and students saying thank you for their generosity in their notice boards. And these daft would be so elated, feeling so good that the foreigners really appreciate what they have done for them, throwing money at them.

See the recipe for the daft? Daft people easy to con or not? It sure works one. For the sake of a little superficial glory, they would do anything, sacrifice the interests of their citizens and use the taxpayer’s money with no qualms about it. The citizens, the parents and students craving for a place in the universities can cry their hearts out, who cares?

See, under my watch the university is world class in ranking! Paid for by OPM. The trick is to look for a silly country to put this into practice. Which country in the world would allow this to happen? Which country’s top academics would be silly enough to be conned by this formula? Can it really happen?

The above is of course a fantasy. It would not happen. It can’t. Top academics and govt leaders are all top talents and would not dare to waste taxpayers’s money on foreigners at the expense of the taxpayers for a cheap glory scam.

An easier method would be to follow what the football leagues are doing. Buy up top universities and change their names to the name of the country buying it. Instant world famous universities!