Monday, December 21, 2009

Changes in school fees for non citizens

New school fees for public schools in Singapore

The following are the fee changes that will come into effect in year 2011.

Primary Level 2009 2011 2012 (Annual fees in S$)
Singapore citizen 132 132 132
Permanent resident 174 396 612
Intl student(Asean) 1752 2352 2952
Intl student(others) 1872 3072 4272

Secondary Level
Singapore citizen 252 252 252
Permanent resident 264 552 852
Intl student(Asean) 2532 3312 4092
Intl student(others) 2712 4272 5832

Junior college/CI
Singapore citizen 336 336 336
Permanent resident 348 780 1224
Intl student(Asean) 4224 5424 6624
Intl student(others) 4464 6864 9264

The Singapore American school fees for primary and intermediate levels are $22,100 per year.

The article is copied from Asian Correspondent.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bloggers score big!

The bloggers have scored their first major victory over the issue of citizenship privileges over non citizens in school fees. Bloggers have cried foul on behalf of all citizens that they were treated no better than PRs and non citizens, and in many instances it is better and more advantages to be PRs and non citizens than citizens. Today the Ministry of Education has announced sweeping changes in school registrations and school fees to differentiate between citizens and non citizens.

These changes will take effect in year 2011 and 2012. Children of citizens will now get an additional ballot slip to boost their chances for enrolment in their preferred schools. The meaty part is the hike in school fees which will see children of PRs paying up to 2 times in year 2011 or 4 times in 2012. Non resident children or international students will also see comparative hikes in their school fees up to junior colleges.

Would these changes have come about if there were no bloggers to whine about or kpkb in cyberspace? Would the main media do the necessary and bring about the changes by reporting the grouses of the citizens the way the bloggers have done? I think credit must be given to all bloggers who have played their painful and unrecognised role in this matter. Some injustice to the citizens have now been squared.

This is the first step towards recognising the citizens and rewarding them for the huge sacrifices and responsibilities they shouldered for the country. The next targets should be hospitalisation fees and housing. More restrictions should be placed on PRs buying public flats even if they have bought them from the open market to prevent speculative activities. The same levies should be imposed on them, including a number of years before they are allowed to resell.

More needs to be done to enhance the value of citizenship and give dignity to the citizens in other areas. Bloggers must continue to play their roles to champion the cause of the citizens.

The article is copied from Asian Correspondent.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blogger in defamation suit

Jayne Goh, the founder of the Association of Bloggers of Singapore which does not represent the majority of bloggers except a few founding members, has been judged by the High Court to have defamed a teacher, Janet Wong, for being corrupt. In her blog she 'alleged that Mrs Wong accepted bribes in return for allowing foreign students admission into her school. Jayne alleged in her blog that Mrs Wong demanded 'a $3,000 cash donation for each student placed in the school...and that entrance tests for such students were fixed'.

The case is now pending appeal or Jayne Goh would have to pay damages for failing to remove the article as demanded by Janet Wong.

What is important to bloggers is that the internet and blogging give bloggers a lot of freedom to write and express their views. But bloggers should be careful not to exceed the limitations of such rights to encroach into other people's rights. And posting scandulous or defamatory articles could bring about lawsuits which are very costly. Bloggers should feel free to express their views on issues and differences or disagreements are fair game. Comments that may be interpreted as personal attacks or affecting the integrity and reputation of individuals should be tackled sensitively and diplomatically.

We will have more news of this case since it is the first major case involving bloggers here.

The article is copied from Asian Correspondent.

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.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Protecting fees of private schools students

The Ministry of Education has come up with new regulations under the Private Education Act to protect students from losing their tuition fees paid in case of the schools closing down. The change means that private schools can now collect only two months of fees in advance or 6 months if they purchasing a fee protection insurance. With these changes private students can at worst lose a few months of their fees. What a big help. Is money the only thing that needs protection? What about the wasted time, the anguish, and the psychological consequences of a young student being caught in such a dilemma? Hehe, we can only think of money. Money is our culture.

Then students were told to be vigilant. It is still caveat emptor! Does the authority think that the culprits or cheats that caused the mess need to be punished as well? Where is the big stick? They should have learnt from the stock exchange where little human mistakes of a few hundred dollars can result in thousands of dollars of fines. Mind you, it is human error and not fraud or bad intention. The punitive penalties have struck fear in the remisiers for making mistakes. But mistakes they will make as they are not demigods or immortals. And they will be very very careful.

The MOE should adopt a similar policy and strike fear among the fraudsters and cheats in the private education industry. Make the punishment punitive and fearful enough to keep them away. Here we are talking about crimes and bad intention and these must surely deserve more severe punishment than pure human errors. Without such punishment, the lure of easy money from innocent and vulnerable foreign students will be too attractive for the cheats to continue what they are doing. The MOE must send out a strong signal that they mean business and has the resolve to want to clean up the industry of such pests.

The above article is copied from Asian Correspondent.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

1 D and 2 ungraded subjects for A level

A blogger from UK posted a comment in that a student with the above grades was admitted for a degree course in management by a 'university'. He could not confirmed the name but thought it was unlikely to be SIM or SMU. He did mentioned something like SUM.

Would there be any university or 'university' in Singapore admitting students with such grades? The fact that this piece of news travelled all the way to UK speaks a lot about the going on's in the education scene here. And it cannot be good news. People are starting to raise the red flag, questioning the quality of our education hub.

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?