Thursday, July 19, 2018

A bestest solution to the perceived flaws in our education system

I say the flaws are perceived because not everyone will agree that the education is flaw. If it is, how could Singapore be bragging to the world that we have one of the best education system in the world with world class top universities ranking at par with the best in the USA and UK? If our education is so loathsome, how could our students be tops in many tests conducted by international agencies, not ranking agencies?


Before anyone could attempt to come out with a solution to the perceived flawed education system, let’s look at the perceived problems raised as these would help those who are trying to work out a solution. The solution must address the perceived flaws or else it would be like chicken and duck talking.
 

From what I could gather, the perceived flaws can be narrowed down to a few points. 1. The education system is too stressful because of the great emphasis on test and grades. 2. The children are not happy because of the stress placed on them because of test and grades. 3. As a result many could not go to the top schools that they wanted, or the parents wanted them to be there.
 

If only that education could be less stressful, no test, and the children could end up in the top schools, everyone would be happy, the children and their parents. See, the solution is surfacing once the sources or causes of the perceived problems are highlighted.
 

Here is my brilliant solution
 

Actually ACS has in a way solved this problem by having 3 kinds of ACS schools, ie ACS Independent, ACS International and just ACS Normal or Ordinary or Traditional. What do all these meant?
 

Simply it means that all the parents and children would be happy if the children could be admitted into the tops schools like RI, Hwa Chong, ACS, Victoria etc etc. And when the children are in these top schools, how to make them happy, without test and the stigma of poor grades and still do very well on graduation? This is an idealistic type of education system that everyone wins, the ministry, teachers, parents and children will all be very happy, and no stress to worry about. So how to do it? Generally only a small number of parents and children are unhappy with the present education system. On one end are the parents that aspired for their children to be in the tops schools, to get good grades, without test and be happy children. On the other end there are parents and children are are realistic and understand the nature of things and are willing to accept that their children will go to the appropriate schools according to their performance in schools. This group is not crying or protesting about the present education system. Similarly, for parents and children that are doing well academically, they are also not complaining either but only in praises for the present system. So, there is only the first group of parents and children that needs to be appeased with some changes to the perceived flawed education system. There is no need to shake and rock the whole system just to cater to this group, maybe 10% or 20% of the cohorts.
 

Change the names of some schools to RI Special School, Hwa Chong Special School, ACS, Victoria etc. These special schools would be staffed with the best teachers money can buy, best to recruit teachers from US or Europe and pay them the highest salary possible. Not to worry about the cost of these teachers. The cost can be passed to the parents who can afford to and want their children to enroll in these bestest special schools, ie the fees would be high. Good quality schools must have the right to charge high fees.
 

The curriculum of these schools should be very relax to make the students happy, no pressure, a lot of play, study less, learn more. And all will graduate with a certificates issued from the respective schools, with straight As. No need to take PSLE, no need to take O or A level examinations. Just take inhouse examinations and be awarded with inhouse certificates from Singapore’s top schools.
 

One caveat, there is no guarantee if universities or polytechnics would accept these certificates, or if employers would want to employ such happy and stress free graduates. For those who don’t have to work for a living, this is the best school system for them. Happy happy and no need to be stressed out, a lot of free time to enjoy life, no homeworks and guaranteed good grades.
 

Hope the ministers in education would adopt this novel and marvelous education system of Special Schools.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Dialectics on Education – idealism versus pragmatism, reality versus aspiration

Many pages of the media, many efforts and valuable manhours, and many heads have been put together to untie the Gordian knot of the Singapore education system. The reason for the change, the wanting to change, comes not because the education is flaw, foul or ineffective, but because of stress factor, because of the complaints by parents that their children are unable to cope. What are the statistics on the complaints, type of complaints, relevant or irrelevant, real or just fear, are not given.
 

So a massive exercise has been taken, by the people that may not know much about education, by people that may not know much about what life and living is all about, by people who knows not but pretending or thinking they know a lot.
 

Here are some takeaways from the things said and printed in the media and the contradictions or fictions that have been generated. The most important point raised, and out of a sense of wanting to provide a child with an all round education, to be a knows all of everything but knowing nothing, is this, to develop a whole child, whatever that means. And the present wisdom, a future of uncertainties and it is better to develop a child that can cope with future changes. Let me quote Indranee, a lawyer, not an educationist, not a parent bringing up children. “We now put a lot more emphasis on developing the whole child – not just their academic achievements….The ability to learn, unlearn and relearn will be the key.” And this motherhood statement, ‘Book knowledge alone is not enough, and the change caused by technology and other disruptive factors means that learning, has to continue well into adult life.’
 

I have several questions. How many children require all round development? How many children needs to be educated in the arts and sciences to become a knows all? How useful is a child with a well rounded education that he can use all these knowledge in his job? How many children are capable, with the intellect, to acquire a full rounded education other than being superficial and ended up becoming a good for nothing? In the real world, when everyone needs to get a job to feed himself, other than the super rich, is a general all round education going to be more useful than a specific education with specific skills, but very narrow in nature?
 

Why are Singaporeans, especially the PMETs losing out in the job market, unemployable, because they did not have specific skills needed in the job market? Why are foreigners, who did not benefit from our super all round education, coming from very basic education system, are beating our super talented Singaporeans, with super grades, in the job market? Why are ministers saying that there is no need for university education, all one needs is a skill in demand?
 

Are there contradictions between idealism and reality, between aspirations and the hard truth in life? While talking about educating children to become more flexible and adaptable, would these compromise the children in acquiring specific skills in demand? Funny, if every child is going to become a superman that can do everything, a wholly developed person, are they not going to become one stereo typed, wholly developed person? Assuming of course every child is a genius by nature and could benefit from such a complex and varied education, and without stress.
 

I am not an educationist or expert in education. These are some of my thoughts as a layman, someone who has no deep knowledge about education and I do not pretend to know the answers to how a child should be educated to the best of his ability, his gifted or not gifted talent. A child is not the same as every other child, each with his own special talents and non talents. Should it not be to develop a child according to the best of his natural endowment and according to what society and the new world expects from him? Not what the parents want them to be?
 

It will be a different matter if every child is born a genius and a sports talent and is gifted to do and excel in everything.
 

From comments in Parliament and the direction they are pointing it appears that they are being mislead by a small group of noisy and vociferous parents dictating how the education should be like for their not too bright or even dull children to be admitted to the best schools, play and be happy, without any pressure, no need exams, learn more study less, and end up with super grades in the end. Such things can only happen in third world countries and degree mills.
 

The children come in all shapes and sizes and not everyone is a perfect circle. One way to push them through perfect circles is to enlarge the circles. But they would come out in their original shapes and sizes. The only method to turn odd shapes into perfect circles, or cast iron into steel is through the crucible of fire.
A buffet of schools
 

What Singapore needs is a tough minister to offer to the parents a buffet of schools, from happy schools to tough competitive schools, to specialized schools that would turn out children according to the demand of the schools and their specialization. Play schools would turn out playboys and playgirls. Rich parents can afford these playboys and playgirls as they grow up to party their whole lives without worries, without stress, without having to work for a day.
 

Those who want their children to be engineers, scientists, doctors, and the hard disciplines have no choice but to work for it. There is no other way to master these tough disciplines except through degree mills and pariah school systems in third world countries. Is that what we want?
 

Stop fooling around with our education system and the lives of our young. No pain no gain. Oops, maybe we have magicians in Parliament that could really produce an Einstein who is also a great artist, a great football player without having to work for it. Just pull him out from the hat and viola, you have your superman!

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Singapore universities - Stop wasting funds and resources on dubious international rankings

"SINGAPORE: An international panel of academic experts and industry leaders has recommended that Singapore should develop a holistic evaluation framework for its universities instead of being fixated on international rankings.

The three-day International Academic Advisory Panel (IAAP), which started on Wednesday (Jun 27), was themed The Role of Universities in Defining Singapore’s Future....

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who attended the discussions, shared with the media on Friday that a new assessment model was needed, considering the differentiated university landscape in Singapore.
"At the minimum, it has to reflect our three major emphases. One, the value of education; two, how we are doing in terms of lifelong learning; and three, research, and not just research in terms of publications and patents but how it translates into impact - whether it's in improving lives or creating jobs.
"I think we need a much more holistic view of a very complex function that universities are now performing," he said...." Channel News Asia

After wasting so many years of resources and pubic funds to provide more jobs for foreigners and university places and scholarships to foreigners to score in controversial western designed ranking systems, it is high time that the unthinking be kicked in the butt and think about the fundamental reasons for university education. Our university should not, never, be a job provider for foreigners and neither should it be using public funds to educate other countries' young at the expense of our very own academics and the children of our citizens.

The craze for high rankings in dubious international ranking systems at best is to provide lucrative jobs to foreigners against our national interests in developing our very own academic talent.  We become job providers for the unemployed academics of other countries. We also provide university education to foreigners instead of our children. This is another way of selling out the country to foreigners.

Just take a look at the universities and see the number of foreign academics replacing our own academics and the number of foreign students on paid scholarship, taking the places that should go to our own children is disgusting.  This is a betrayal of our own people. Period.

So what if you are ranked highly when it does not benefit our own citizens, when the universities look like some foreign land, invaded, occupied and colonised by foreigners.

Monday, April 16, 2018

What went wrong with getting a degree in Singapore

“TODAY highlighted employment discrimination against private university graduates. Only 47.4 percent of the current batch of private university graduates secured full-time jobs six months after graduation, compared to 60.1 percent from the last batch.

Everybody knows the Big Three: National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University. There’re three newer ones–Singapore University of Social Sciences, Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore University of Technology and Design–who enjoy the prestige of being placed under the ambit of the Ministry of Education. Being Singaporean and government-approved, their degrees are recognized everywhere you go in this tiny island.
 

Other schools — Kaplan, Singapore Institute of Management, PSB, INSEAD, James Cook University –don’t enjoy the same cachet. Some aren’t even known at all. But when the rest of your life is staring at you and all you see is a wasteland of bills and broken dreams, you pick the best option you can find and roll with it....
 

Reality kicked in soon after. I had just over twenty people in my classes at Kaplan. A grand total of two people, over two years, were job-seekers....
Eight Years of Silence
 

I’ve sent out dozens, hundreds of resumes. Every month, every week, every day, I applied for job after job after job, hoping that someone would notice. Until then, I crunched numbers and copied clauses, wrote story after story, and picked up whatever freelance job and short-term contract job I could find.
 

I did this for eight years.
 

In eight years, I received nothing.
 

Less than one percent of my applications made it to the interview stage. None of them went anywhere. The other ninety-nine-odd percent was greeted with silence....
The Singapore Dream is dead to me. But I’m not going to give up, and I will not surrender my own dream.”
 

Benjamin Cheah

Benjamin Cheah wrote the above in an article published in the TRE to highlight the plight of Singaporean graduates trying to get a job in Singapore, a little island that could provide 2m jobs to foreigners. He is warning Singaporeans not to anyhow apply to join a not fully recognised university or schools and waste time and money for a degree that would not land one a job.
 

What Benjamin forgot to explain is the ease in which the foreigners are able to get jobs in Singapore with funny degrees from schools or universities worse than those he listed above operating in Singapore. Other than the job market being under the control of foreigners, ie foreigner owned employment agencies, they could also decide who they want when they are employed in Singapore companies or organisations in management positions. The HR dept would be held at ransom when these foreigners insist on hiring only foreigners and rubbished all the Singaporean applicants. They just said Singaporeans are not good enough. Period.
 

Other than this abuse that has been going on without anyone daring to do something about it or talk about it, the other thing of course is to get the same kind of funny degrees like the foreigners to get employed in Singapore. But I am only joking. When the whole hiring process is controlled by foreigners and the daft in charge did not know what is happening or powerless to do otherwise, Singaporeans would not be able to get a job in his homeland. Foreigners are favoured and given more chances for employment under the nose of daft Singaporean management.
 

This is how pathetic Singaporeans have become, losing out to foreigners in their own country for employment unfairly, cheated. Can you believe that? They don’t even know that they are losing their country to the foreigners. The foreigners are taking over their country.
 

PS. Only the 'stupidity has no cure' people would allow a no condition open economy with legs open so wide for everyone to screw. Trump would not do that. The only time these 'stupidity has no cure' type would put up conditions and barriers is when their own interests are affected. Otherwise you die your business.