Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Education statistics - Shall we be concerned?

 Indranee Rajah presented the latest Singapore population statistics in a media briefing yesterday. The ethnic population distribution of residents, not Singaporeans,  74.3 per cent Chinese, 13.5 per cent Malays, 9 per cent Indians.  What is the distribution of Singaporeans? Why this is not provided or not reported? What is the distribution of Singaporeans?

What I see as alarming is the data on university graduates last year. 34.7 per cent Chinese, 10.8 per cent Malays and 41.3 per cent Indians. Where have all the Chinese students gone? With a 74.3 per cent population, only 34.7 per cent of the graduates. Indians make up 9 per cent of the population and with 41.3 per cent of the graduates. Is this something to be concerned about? The Malays are just about right, could have more graduates.

Is the data saying that the Chinese have given up on tertiary education, taking the advice from some politicians that it is a piece of paper that cannot be eaten, so don't waste time and money? To make a career in hawking or taxi drivers no need to be graduates? Or is it that the Chinese are getting duller, not interested in education any more, while the Indians getting smarter and deserved all the increase in university places?

What is going on?

Thursday, April 29, 2021

PSLE - Another change in grading system


Another big exercise involving a lot of expertise from the education industry has just been completed. This musical chair or merry go round exercise has been going on for years and it seems that it would never be satisfactory as far as the parents are concerned.  The results only helped to meet some of the needs and expectations of the parents but would never be enough as the demands would keep on changing as the moods and expectations of clever and rich parents keep changing.

By now the education ministry and ministers and experts must have known what the parents really want. If they are still guessing or not wanting to face the truth, or knowing the truth but trying to meet the parents half way or a quarter way but still wanting to maintain certain educational objectives and standards, then the cycle will go on and on and every new minister would have his hands full when new sets of parents would have new demands and new axe to grind.

What the parents really want are very simple. Less stress ie less work, less study, and good results and easy to get into branded schools. Actually all three demands are very easy to meet. Less work and less study can be QED.  Just tell the teachers to go slow and teach less and just pretend that the children will then learn more. As for good results for all students, this is even easier. Grades should just be good and excellent and all students would be marked Merit or Excellent. Children will be happy, parents would be happier.

The next big demand is good schools. This is also easily done by a little restructuring and renaming of schools. Pick the best 10 schools that are most desirable by the parents and children. All the schools should be renamed under these 10 schools.  As an example, there can be 50 Raffles Institutions and 50 Hwa Chong Institutions to choose from. Raffles Institution, Bishan, Raffles Institution, Radin Mas, Raffles Institution, Tanglin, Raffles Institution, Ang Mo Kio, Raffles Institution Bedok etc etc The same would apply to Hwa Chong Institution and the other top 8 branded schools.

Now, would that make all the parents and children happy?  Oh, school placement would be very much easier. Can still give preference to citizens and location of homes and the top 6 choices in order of preference.

 Now what is so difficult about this? It took me 5 minutes to solve all the angst of parents. There will be no more stress for parents and students.  No more needs for expensive tuition and spending so much time studying. Go to school and play and enjoy. Many great countries are producing great talents by just giving their students distinctions in all subjects even if they failed. This is only a piece of paper.  What is important in life is whether the student eventually can work or can bluff their way through in life.

No need to sweat the small stuff. No need to put so much pressure on the Education Minister and the teachers and principles.  Singapore will be a very happy place to bring up children and with good grades in good schools without having to study and mug.

I rest my case. It is very hard work to formulate such a big change in the education grading system to please everyone.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Singapore Education - How to punish AWOL students

'According to recent reports, Mr Ong’s (Ye Kung) announcement of the resumption of classes has raised concerns. Despite the new system that will be implemented, wherein students take turns switching from HBL to face-to-face classes and safety measures are enhanced, parents have found issues with certain aspects of the “new normal” of education. Some of these issues include the length of time children will have to don a mask and the risk of infection. Other parents also asked the Minister if they could opt to stick to HBL as they were concerned for the safety of their children. Though Mr Ong addressed some concerns, his statement regarding the HBL option was, “We cannot make attending school voluntary.”....

“We understand that to date, 10 pre-school staff have tested positive for coronavirus. And the testing is not complete yet and will only be completed by the end of the month,” wrote Mr Lim (Tean), arguing that the number of cases are expected to rise. He then questioned why Mr Ong did not seem to consider this as an increased risk for young children....

“Parents have every right to ensure the safety of their children and if they do not feel comfortable in sending their children to school at this point in time, what right has Ong Ye Kung to force them to do so?” said Mr Lim....'

Above are a few paragraphs in that raised concerns about school opening in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic. Attending school is compulsory, not voluntary, according to Ong Ye Kung. On the other hand, Lim Tean was saying that given the risk of Covid19, this should not be and parents have the right to protect their children.

Assuming that the govt, in this case the Minister of Education, would have the final say and the law is behind him, school attendance is compulsory and not attending would lead to some penalty or punishment, how should this be dealt with.

In the armed forces, NS is compulsory by law and absence or AWOL means jail terms or minor cases mean detention barracks.  Going to school is compulsory but not really in the same category.  Can't imagine children sent to detention barrack, but not entirely true. Remember detention classes or being retained back in school as a form of punishment?

How is the MOE going punish school children that went AWOL? The consent of parents to keep their children away from school is no excuse.  AWOL is AWOL. There must be cases when children were not sent to school due to poverty, or parents having financial difficulties and unable to afford to do so. Providing financial assistance in a way would help in such cases.

In the context of safety from the virus, would the parents be punished and what kind of punishment should they decide not to send their children to school? Does the Minister have authority to punish the parents for making such a decision?

Or should the AWOL children be punished instead and how? The Minister has made it very clear that school attendance is compulsory and not up to the choice of the parents and children. What if they just vote with their feet, ignored this compulsory requirement and backed by law? The Minister cannot say nothing can be done and move on. If this is so, then what is all the hooha about compulsory attendance? A policy like this and backed by law must also be matched with the ability and will to enforce.

There must be penalties or punishment to the parents or to the school children. It would be interesting to know what MOE or the Minister has in mind in dealing with delinquent children with parental support or how to deal with such parents. Ong Ye Kung has made his position very clear, it is not an option. So what is he going to do about it when this edict is violated?

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The myth of quality education

To be ranked as world best university by western organisations seemed to be a highly desired accolade for many universities. To be ranked among the top 10, the top 100, confers the graduates from these universities as among the best in the world, top talents. In general this looks like the case and of course there are exceptions. Some universities are ranked very high but produced duds, useless graduates that are good only at mid executive levels at most and many could not even find gainful employment and have to resort to part time jobs, some even have to drive for Grab.

Then there this outstanding exception that has stunned the world. India, without any university in the top 100, maybe not even in the top 500 best, is producing the most top executives for MNCs in the whole wide world. The Indian graduates are beating the Europeans and Americans in their home ground, taking over their companies not just as middle executives or senior executives but as the top dogs, the CEOs. There are thousands of Indian CEOs heading western MNCs, even Japanese MNCs and of course Singaporean MNCs.

Surprising, shocking, not true? Yes, the Indians have got their education system right. Many may still think the Indian education system is half baked, primitive, and basic. Think again, and look at the names of all the top CEOs in western MNCs, the big and reputable ones, the Fortune 500 companies, they are mostly Indians. They must be teaching the right stuff, and not the unnecessary and frivolous. And Singapore is salivating at the prospect of bringing in more Indians to fill the top posts in business and in govt. The Indians are the best in the world, in business and in govt. Ok, the latter still needs more proof.

The irony, very few foreigners would want to send their children to India to benefit from what they are doing right and to become future CEOs of big MNCs. And more surprising, some Indians are sending their students to study in Singapore's world class universities that could hardly produce a MNC CEO other than in local companies in tiny Singapore. Increasingly Singapore companies, the bigger and more established ones, are going to be helmed by Indians from India.

What is the moral of the story? Go to India to get a good education, an education that would turn graduates into future CEOs if that is what you want. And Indian education is relatively cheap. Do not send your children to super expensive highly ranked universities that are good on paper only, good to look at, good to brag about but turning out unemployeable graduates or graduates at best be good enough to work for MacDonalds or Grab.

Get the idea? See the myth? What is good and real is in the pudding.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

When teachers are unintelligent and policy makers confusing the purpose of education

An exam paper of a primary school girl has been circulating around exposing the unintelligence of teachers, maybe one teacher setting the question and one marking, or one teacher doing both, and how a poor child that was so confused by the questions because of her exceptional intelligence ended being marked wrong for her exceptionally clear answers.

One question showed 3 pairs of ducks facing each other and the question asking how many ducks were there. What was confusing was that at the answer column, after a space for the answer was a picture of a duck facing one side. Without this picture, the answer was obvious, 6 ducks. But with the picture of a duck added, and facing one side, a child could read the question as asking how many ducks were facing the same direction as the picture next to the answer. The child put down 3 and was marked wrong.

Another question was a picture of 9 dogs in various positions and the question asked how many dogs were there. Same problem, answer should be 9. But at the answer column, after the space to put the answer was a picture of a dog lying in a particular position. And only one of the 9 dogs was lying in that position. The child's answer was 1 and was marked wrong.

Who was right and who was wrong? An average child would have given the answers that an average teacher wanted, 6 ducks and 9 dogs. An above average child would give the wrong answers as the child above, to an average thinking teacher. Whose fault is this? The painful thing is that the child would have gone bonkers trying to figure out why her answers were wrong, all because of unintelligent teachers and unintelligent questions.

Is this the reason why our education system is producing duds that cannot think outside the exam questions and could only produce unintelligent answers and thus found wanting when applying for jobs or for top positions in an organisation? We pay millions and millions for good teachers and good education system but the above situation is appalling. Something is very seriously wrong in this robotic fashion of teaching.

And I read in the papers that the school system is going to teach the child mental health and in the same breath acknowledging that teachers that have proper training on mental health would not be qualified to offer professional support to troubled children. If teachers after being properly trained may be found wanting, how much would the children learn from such classes? There are so many things that our children are expected to learn from their school curriculum that wanted to turn them into superman and superwoman but ended turning out duds and people knowing a bit of nothing in everything.

If this is the way the schools are being made to do, I would suggest a few more important topics to prepare the children other than mental illness, disappointments and accepting failures as part of their life after going through our very expensive and confusing education system. Let them know that they are not supposed to be the best in their studies as that would hurt the feelings of less academically inclined children. Let them know that being good academically is nothing to be proud off. If they are good academically they must hide in the closets and not to talk about it. Academically smart children are frown upon by society as they made others looked bad.

And prepare them to accept low paying jobs, to be underemployed, to willingly take on part time jobs, and not to feel bad that they cannot get a job and not to be angry with foreigners that went through half baked education system that did not teach them all the good things in our education system but taking all the good jobs.

The schools must tell the children that despite being taught so many things and paying so much for it, even travelling overseas to understand other people, they would not get the good jobs and may end up jobless. The good jobs would go to foreigners that paid a pittance for their makeshift education, did not go on exchange programme, but just teaching them the 3 Rs and what a basic school education is meant to teach.

Yes, the school can teach everything, from brushing the teeth, how to take a shower, how to go dating, how to use condoms etc etc. The question is what are schools meant for in the first place. With every change of minister for education, the roles of the schools have changing and deviating from its original mission. Let's get back to first principles and let the schools do what they should be doing and not all the nonsense that are good to have, that are desired by a few parents or policy makers, things that parents should be teaching them.

What do you think? Is it the problem of our education system or confused policy makers trying to do things beyond their field of expertise, not trained in education and telling the teachers what to do? Oh, the above teacher or teachers setting and marking those questions are exceptions to the rule despite being paid top dollars as the best teachers money can buy. We have many good teachers, just let them teach what the schools should be teaching. Non teaching professionals should meddle less with the teaching professions.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Silent Cultural Revolution in Singapore

What was the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1966?

In 1966, China was engulfed with the fire of revolution with young Red Guards running wild all over the country attacking and arresting people, humiliating and punishing people branded as revisionists. The crime of the victims was mainly due to their intellect, the educated and worse foreign educated elites, the professors, engineers, academics, administrators, scientists, anyone with higher education was a target. It was destruction of everything related to knowledge, science and technology. It was the Road to Mediocrity when farmers and peasants were glorified. It was good to be poor. And China went back to Year Zero by the time the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976  with the death of Mao and the arrest of the Gang of Four.

Is Singapore also on the Road to Mediocrity? Is there a silent Cultural Revolution to frown upon excellence, to promote mediocrity, to encourage every student to be mediocre, be average is glory, top schools and top students should become unknown and unheard off? Do not mention about top schools and top students getting straight As. Popularise and glorify the average students as the good stuff, the way to be, be proud to be average and be ashamed if one is top of the class!

How long have the name Raffles Institution, Hwa Chong Institution been blanco from the media like it is a crime to mention them? When O level and A level results were released, not a whisper of the top students from the top schools? Why? Should these top talents be arrested, humiliated and send to work in the farms? Oops we don't have enough farm land to house them, maybe send them to neighbour countries? Send them for reeducation camps to tell them that to be good in their studies, to be top students, to be highly qualified graduates from the best schools and universities are bad, not to be seen, not to be heard.  Oh, we can send all our top graduates to become cab drivers and security guards as part of their reeducation stint like the intelligentsia of China during the Cultural Revolution. Can also become hawkers to learn what it is like to do manual work and to be poor.

Singapore does not need Singaporeans as top talents. We cannot offend the parents of the average students and the pride of the average students. We must make the average students happy, their parents happy by glorifying them and shun the top students. We can import all the top talents from third world countries to fill the top positions in the industries and govt ministries. Like that all the average Singaporeans would be very happy. See, no arrogant top students and their happy parents on the main media to make the average students and their parents unhappy.

Now when did I get this idea?  I came across this article in thenewpaper on 22 Jan titled, 'MOE launches pilot study to drop selection trials for CCAs'.  In the article there were a couple of phrases that prompted me to think again. The first paragraph of the article reads, 'In its latest push to encourage children to pursue their interests and focus less on performance, the Ministry of Education(MOE) will look at dropping selection trials for co-curricular activities(CCAs).  Another comment about the National School Games for young children, 'Last year, it tweaked the National School Games(NSG) junior division (for pupils aged nine to 11) to give children, even the less skilled, a chance to compete. Among the changes were removing individual events in some sports and rewarding participation instead of finishing first.  The bold emphasis were mine.

To reward mediocrity, reward communal activities, punish individual excellence are exactly what the Cultural Revolution of China was all about. Instead of in search of excellence, this is promoting mediocrity, levelling down to please the mediocres. Is this the road forward for Singapore?  Why is the MOE peddling to the cries of the parents of the average and in a way sidelining the talented and individual pursuits for excellence?  Is this what we get from the millionaires, brilliant ideas that millionaires could come up with?

What is wrong with excellence? What is wrong with wanting to be the best? Is it shameful to be top students, top talents? Should not then that the media stop glorifying our universities as world top universities, stop crowing how good we are and hide under the cloaks of mediocrity?

What do you think?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Singapore's education conundrum- something is fake

Language aside, the general school facilities and resources in Indian government schools are not comparable to Singapore government schools, and Indian teachers and students often work and study under adverse conditions.

I have often wondered how Indian government schools, despite their inadequate and commonly antiquated education facilities and resources, can produce talents in demand by a first world country like Singapore. There must be something unique (almost magical) about the Indian government schools, their education administration and education Ministry, Ministers and their officials....

How much of the Indian talents are “real” talents that Singapore cannot survive without them? How can India produce the first world talent when Singapore cannot despite our good education facilities and model?....

Lastly, if a Third World country like India can produce First World talents which Singapore must have to survive, why can’t First World Singapore produce the talent investors require (though not in the same numbers)?
It is only when the PAP government is really taking serious actions (rather than their ‘fanciful talks’) to control the inflow of foreign talents especially from India can our well-skilled and educated Singaporeans remain in employment without fear of unfair competition.

Kok Ming Cheang

The above statements from Kok Ming Cheang's article in the TRE are something that I have been musing about and perplexing to many Singaporean PMETs that have lost their high paying jobs to foreigners especially those from India. Amusing to me is one thing, but pain and suffering to the affected PMETs and their families is another. And to those that paid lip service to the suffering of this group of Singaporeans and claiming that they understood their pains and empathise with them,with their lives while they live their lives of aplenty because of their million dollar salaries, is another.

This is very serious matter and should not be taken lightly.  The reason 'wayang' as some in the social media have said about the sudden interest in MOM to right the decades long wrong to the Singaporean PMETs and their families hopefully is not really just another wayang because election is around the corner.

Is there anything wrong with this education conundrum or something is wrong with the facts? Is it true that third world Indian education is producing all the talents that first world Singapore education is unable to produce? Or is it true that Singapore's first world education is not producing the talents that first world Singapore needs, ie failure in the Singapore education system? Something is very wrong. Something is fake, cannot be both. Either Indian education is really good and producing good talents for Singapore or it is not. Or Singapore's education is really producing duds despite its claim of being world class or it is not.

What is fake, which part is fake? Can Singapore, after spending so much money to have a world class education system is not really what it is, everything is fake, fake world class education therefore unable to produce the talents it needs?  Or India's third world education is producing fake talents that the stupids in Singapore cannot tell the difference and took them in as talents?  Which is which?

What is real and what is fake? 

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Education, solving one problem but creating more problems

'I said that the underlying problem is that the education system aims to pick the top students for the top secondary school and later for scholarships to prestigious overseas universities.

If the reward is set at a high level, parents will continue to do the best that they can to make sure that their children become top students. The children from wealthy families will continue to get the advantage. Those from poorer families will be disadvantaged.

To get rid of this competition, we have to stop identifying the top students. We should only look for students who passed and those who failed. In each cohort, about 90% should pass in each year.'

The above quotes are from Tan Kin Lian in his article posted in TRE offering his solution to what he saw as Ong Ye Kung's inability to solve any problem with his new changes. According to Tan Kin Lian, the problem with Singapore's education is the focus to pick top students to be offered scholarships to the best universities in the world. I differ. Anyway this is what Tan Kin Lian wanted to avoid. So, Ong Ye Kung's new solution did not do away with identifying and selecting the best students.

Tan Kin Lian's solution, make schools produced students with pass or fail grades, get rid of competition. If this is introduced, parents and students do not need to compete with each other and would lead to less stress and maybe everyone passed. I think all of you would have a lot to say about Tan Kin Lian's proposal to solve the education angst of Singapore parents and students.

I just want to point out one fake reality.  Many countries are churning out perfect score students just for their students to look better and can compete better with other countries' students. Also many half baked students and half baked universities are getting first class grades by hook or by crook, fake or real never mind, especially when they come to Singapore. Singapore would accept anything as real on printed paper as they have no means or intelligence to check their validity. Singapore has degraded to the point that they did not even bother about having a degree to qualify for a job as long as the fake can do the job.

So how are our students with only pass grades going to compete with the real and the fakes with A grades? I am sure Tan Kin Lian did not consider this yet. We already have millions of fakes descending here and taking away good jobs from our Singaporeans. The situation can only get worse if our students merely have a pass grade or average grades from the schools, polys or unis. But this may not be a problem as the most desirable jobs for Singaporeans today are hawkers, Grab drivers and part time jobs, all does not require a degree.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

What is $238m to educate foreigners?

The amount that our MOE spent on foreign students, as mentioned by OYK in Parliament, was $238 million annually. (or was it $340m or was it $680m, after reduced b 50%?). By any standard, that is alot of money especially when this comes from our precious hard-earned tax dollars and are not from some lottery windfall or inheritance wealth.

We should play our part as a responsible member of the international community by taking in and sponsoring some international students. But this PAP government must forever be mindful that Singaporeans are not suckers and the government is not a Santa Claus.

I suggest that our budget for foreign student’s scholarships and tuition grants be capped at S$100 million annually and adjusted for inflation. The leftover balance can be used comfortably to help our struggling families lighten their financial burdens and give their children a better shot at life, instead of their children starting out in life with educational debts to pay.

My daughter is an undergraduate at NTU, and I know the sad reality in Singapore is that many working class families got themselves into big debts even as OYK so eloquently put it that “all Singaporean students who meet the standards have been admitted” and that “no Singaporean is ever displaced from institute of higher learning because of an international student” etc....

Posted by Simon Lim in TRE 

All I can say is to ape some of the super rich here by uttering, What is $238m? Or shall I say it is peanuts. Remember the $200m overspent on the Youth Olympics and the hundreds of million spent annually on the F1? After all spending OPM does not hurt one's own pocket. Spend lah, what is the problem? 

Today Hsien Loong said they are thinking of reducing fees for part time students to reduce education cost for working adults. What mercy! How long have working adults and our students been suffering for paying high fees while foreigners' children were and are still having a whale of a time with our free money to enjoy our world class education without a sweat?

Maybe we need to have GE every year and more such goodies would be made available to benefit out tax paying citizens.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

This ignorant teacher must be sacked and...

Below is a post in about an ignorant and full of herself teacher bullying a 9 year old boy in her class and accusing the boy of being misguided and a source of ethnic violence. She is abusing her position as a teacher to attack young children with her twisted views of what is right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. She is so ignorant that she did not even know that there is such a thing called beef curry just because her little mind knew that Hindu did not eat beef, so it is offensive to mention beef curry to a Hindu. If this kind of silly and warp thinking and logic are allowed in our schools and society, then many things cannot be said.

This swine of a teacher must be sacked before she does more damage to the children. Her English is half past six at best. She is aggressive and uncultured and inciting violence, telling a child that saying things like beef curry can get him killed. Which backward country would kill a child for saying such a thing?

And if she is a foreigner, send her back to where she came from. MOE please do the necessary and don't sleep on the job. MHA also must act on this before more and more of such rubbish are allowed to create more rubbish and tension in our schools and in our society. The poor boy has been attacked and butchered by this swine teacher in front of her class. The parents of the boy must take up the case with the school and the police for intimidation and verbal assault of a child. A teacher, an adult, bullying a 9 year old child! And some silly cunts with the same kind of mentality said the child's conversation was microaggression on the part of the child. Can you believe that?

Here is the post and tweets from

A drama teacher in Singapore has taken to Twitter to complain about a nine-year-old student she encountered in one of her classes — only to remove her tweets and account after receiving backlash for her views.
Her beef?
A child she was teaching in her drama class had behaved in a manner that was not woke enough and she told the boy off on the spot that it was his type of misguided views that is the cause of ethnic violence.

What did she tweet?

The series of six tweets on July 17 by the drama teacher also referred to the child as an “uncultured swine” and that she “wanted to strangle the kid”.
These were the tweets and the circumstances that led to her calling out the boy’s answers and behaviour:

Praised for correcting child

Over on Twitter, the drama teacher’s tweets received support and empathy from some quarters who could relate to her having to deal with such microaggressions:
The issue was also couched as a result of “Chinese privilege“: