Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Taking a different dig at the private education scene

The editorial of the Straits Times applauded the new measures to protect students from premature closure of private schools. The additional requirements by the MOE will give students some peace of mind, at least they would not lose all their money, and there is an option of placement in other private schools. What was not addressed is the time and effort lost while being a student of fly by night schools or con shops. The other good things are Singapore's reputation as an education hub and the Singapore Brand which will be protected in some ways.

Looking at the other side, a lot of people will lose their jobs or income. The ST editorial says it is a good thing to let the weaker private schools close shop. When that happens, the teaching staff and administrative staff will lose their jobs if more private schools find it difficult to operate here. The landlords will not be able to let out their office space, and all the people in the supporting industry will be affected. The value of commercial properties will go down as well. That is bad for those who have plonked their money in such properties.

What will happen is that with more controls it will restrain the entrepreneur spirit of the businessmen to make a quick buck. Don't forget that this is one of the secrets of our success story. Entrepreneurship will be curtailed. This is bad too as we are promoting entrepreneurship for those who have lost their jobs. Making money opportunities will also be limited. This is contrary to what private education is all about. The private educationist and entrepreneurs will disagree with this. They will definitely insist that private education is about education. Is it or it isn't is subjective. I concede that the good private schools are doing a good job in providing the opportunities for students to get their education when the public schools could not offer them. This is a very good cause and reason for private schools.

We have a conflict of interest don't we? We want to provide education and also make money but we can't have it all with more restrictions on the entrepreneurs or cheats. A possible solution to have the cake and eat it is to have two kinds of private schools. One will have full govt endorsement and abide by all the good regulations. In another sector, let it be free for all, no regulations and students beware, caveat emptor hor. And I think many would love that, including some special groups of students, and the cheat operators of course. There is a market for bogus schools, really, no bluffing. Not a bad suggestion isn't it? Catering for the good, the bad and the ugly. And we will have a very vibrant education scene and more foreign students will come to our shore.

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