Friday, December 04, 2009

The Singapore Education Brand - Does anyone bother?

This guy handed me his name card and it read, Dr Boh Tak Cheh, CEO, Karanguni Enterprise. He gave me that big and confident smile, telling me that he had arrived. He owned a very big and successful business in collecting old and secondhand goods and resell them for profits. He had done well. He told me that his good friend, the headman of Sungei Road Thief Market, as it was well known for selling secondhand and stolen goods, has also acquired a doctorate from a foreign university which he did not know where. Many successful Singaporeans are now flashing their doctorates in their name cards. For these new towkays, they have done exceedingly well in their businesses. I always tell them that they don't need that stupid degree to be respectable. When Dr Boh Tak Cheh parks his Mercedes 400 at the entrance of the hotel, the doormen will all rush to open his car door. I have to quietly sneak in myself without anyone noticing that I have been there.

People like Dr Boh would probably be directors of several companies and chairmans of many social and business organisations. We should salute such men and women who have done well and contribute to society in their own ways.

What is troublesome is that there are many unaccredited colleges that claim to be universities and setting up shops here to issue degrees to the point that Singapore has appear in the infamous list of unaccredited institutions and degree mills of the Oregon's Office of Degree Authorisation. The six Singaporean institutions named in Sandra Davie's article in the ST are Cranston University, Templeton University, Trident University of Technology, Vancouver University Worldwide, Westmore University and the last one, with the gumption to call itself Lee Community College, also set up business here.

For several years since the liberalisation and the ambition plan to turn Singapore into an education hub, the education scene is like no man's land. Quite a number of private schools have failed and left students, both foreign and locals, stranded, wasted their time and money cheated. As if these were not enough signals to warrant some kind of enforcement, things seems to go on as per normal. Nothing happen leh.

Other than the diminishing value and credibility in the Singapore Education Brand, the saddest part is that innocent students came to be swindled off their hard earned money, and some wasted years all for nothing. Anyone feeling guilty or responsible? In a hotel when there is no ownership and everyone only thinks about his big bonus and holidays, such neglect is a likely outcome. When will god get angry?

Despite the setbacks, there are many honorable people who have came into the education scene and have filled a gap for the hungry students who wanted to further their studies. They have done a noble job to provide the opportunities that are otherwise not there, for students to chase their dreams for a better education and a better life. The works of these honorable people in providing education to those who needed them could be tarnished and negatively affected by the sheer lack of enforcement to ensure that the black sheep are weeded out.

When education is not about education but making money, indiscretion and fraud are bound to be occur. This is not restricted just to this industry. Medical health, insurance, legal services, the financial industry etc etc, are also victims to this profit making mindset, when making money supercedes all considerations, even ethics and morality.

How long will the Singapore Brand be battered before it goes into the gutters? Who is responsible?

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