Aug 12, 2009

The 9th Question - On Singaporean Students

9 Education: Bright students will be sought after internationally, chipping away at Singapore's talent pyramid at the top. Mr Goh considers this one of the most serious threats to Singapore's long-term survival and says it has to be solved now.

His questions for the Prime Minister, Education Minister, schools and families: How do we bond students going abroad to Singapore, physically if possible, and if not, at least emotionally? How do we ensure most will return home and contribute to Singapore? How do we ensure there will always be a core of honest, able and dedicated Singaporeans to look after the country and their fellow men?

"Stupid Goh," Lee Hsien Loong would reply. "Haven't you noticed? We can just replace all of them with talented foreigners."

Back to the theme of personalising the question. For the individual Singaporean, it's a very good thing to have the kind of skills, knowledge and experience that give you international mobility. You may or may not go - but at least you have that option.

Studying overseas is a good start. At least you get a taste of life in another country.


LuckySingaporean said...

Ah...Mr.Wang I think you can stop trying to answer SM Goh's questions. They are pretty bad questions. We need to pay him $4M a year to get decent questions and another $8M for something that looks like an answer.

Nelson said...

Mr. Wang,

Here's my reply.

1. Stop making us feel like we are 2nd class citizen. Foreign talents have better benefits over us. Especially on the issue of NS.

2. Reform this money driven society. Quality of life is more important.

3. Abolish social engineering.

4. Create a healthy democratic state.

However, I understand that Singapore is geographically and demographically too small to fulfill them. Unless we merge with (a reformed) Malaysia again.

I am a local Singaporean who left. After experiencing life overseas, I really feel that Singaporeans were misled since birth. It is no wonder so many left and not choose to return. Sheep will always go to greener pastures.

Onlooker said...

Lucky if follow your advice another $$$8Million$$$ to feed senior monkey wooden goh hor very soon run out of peanuts liao leh.
Not implying that the Cookie Peanut Fun jar/reserve is half empty.

I stand by my previous point:-

Ensure local Males who had already served/still serving NS have better/immediate access to higher education(diploma++ level) and cut down the time (preferably below 1 year) wasted in the service (to the nation) that is overly bureaucratic.

Enforce a similar NS system for FW/PR student esp those on scholarship in non military vocation like SCDF maybe a NEA enforcement service. well this will help them integrate with the Construction FWs too.(SAC. what better way to repay the scholarship than by serving the nation for x years before pursuing the scholarship at the current payment rates to nsf of course)

Moreever,Wooden Goh is wrong in assuming that the talent pool is a pyramid. Perhap from an academic excellence viewpoint,Yes.
However ,from other observable indicators, most Talents overseas are nurtured by their nation's educational system and not all of them are bright student, some are just plain hardworking and/or enterprising.

And beside, so what if the bright students left? Wooden Goh cannot even be bother with the hardworking/ enterprising students and late bloomers.It take only a slight effort to be PC but he choose not do so.

The prevalent myopic view of meritocracy based on academic achievement and results (examinations), will ultimately result in a core of elitist Singaporeans who THINK that they are a core of honest, able and dedicated Singaporeans.

They are the Greater Mortals Singaporeans who also think that they are underpaid civil servants who have to sacrifice CEO jobs(yeah, sure. Why not? plenty of those jobs around in this recession. lol) to look after the country and their fellow men.

What to do? It happened.....

Anonymous said...

I was born after Singapore's independence. Grew up during the rapidly developing 70's and 80's.

On this year's National Day, I was happy to be filling in documents for emigration. The Singapore that I grew-up in and dreamed-of no longer exists. I have to make that leap for my long-term welfare, especially for my golden years. I am happy to be quitting Singapore.

I agree with what Nelson wrote. The PAP politicians always selling us the BS "that Singapore is geographically and demographically too small to fulfill them". E.g. Its cronies have no regrets about losing billions of our treasury (instead of using it to develop its citizens), its town councils levied so much fees for reserves to gamble on negative "investments". No explanation, no transparency, BS meritocracy.

Anonymous said...

His last policy to "bond" Singaporeans to Singapore, physically, we are still paying the price, literally. "Asset enhancement" policy. Remember?

The best way to keep your people with you, is to treat them well.

Simple as that. Now he should ask himself that question.

Mirror Mirror on the wall said...

SM should first ask himself and the Cabinet this question first raised by that CCK opposition MP in Parliament.

How many of our senior Civil Servants have migrated from Singapore?

If the very people who shaped this nation, drew the policies, persuaded us to buy into the "vision" does not want to stay in the "wonder" they have created, then why is Goh asking the rest of us who has only a vote each?

Goh should ask for statistics also on how many of the immediate family members (father, mother, spouse and kids) of our Ministers, MPs, scholars have PR overseas?

Then he should go ask these people, his very own trusted "nation builder talents" why they have so little faith in Singapore?

For a couple of millions a year, he cannot think of such a simple sampling exercise before asking such a profound question to US?

lobo said...

For most, it's a matter of preferential treatment. If there is none, why would people be attached to the country?

To use Mr Wang's personalised approach: If your mother treated you like any other kid (no love showered on you, don't even bother to feed you nor provide a roof for you, etc), do you really think you will love your mother?

For some minority, it's about ideals. USA have their American dream of equal opportunities
...what does Singapore have in this aspect? It's not even meritocracy...coz it favours the rich and powerful.

QQ*librarian said...

In the globally competitive world that we live in today, Singapore needs to compete on the same grounds as other countries for top talents. A Singapore citizenship or harping on patriotism no longer resonates with this generation and these factors do not give Singapore the advantage or the right to retain top talents. People come and go for reasons of their own. We have to accept that sometimes, no matter what we do, people will still leave the country. Young people, when given the opportunity, should travel, work and live in other countries to open their minds. For some, it is through living overseas that cause them to decide that Singapore is their preferred choice of permanent residence. We should not keep thinking of bonding overseas students physically as if they are the only ones who can serve the country when they return.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lucky. They are bad questions to begin with. They are grounded on flawed assumptions that put the cart before the horse, so to speak. Why legitimise them by answering them? Instead analyze the questions and expose the flawed assumptions.

Anonymous said...

Yes, totally agree. I will definitely send my kids abroad to study if I can afford it, since I don't have the option myself. even if it means they might stay on and not come back.

Actually I think we are still here because we can't afford to emigrate, or at least still working hard for our retirement funds.

As I'm travelling on public transport everyday to work, when I looked around, the foreigners actually out-number singaporeans. Sometimes I feel that I'm not in Singapore. In no time, singaporeans will become minorities, with the new citizens, PRs and foreigners in every part of our society.

Well the government is not bothered about this at all, as long as the economy continues to be sustainable, by the foreign talents.

Anonymous said...

The issue at the heart of all this dissatisfaction - about uncaring elites and thieving foreign talents - is the ill-defined concept of meritocracy that is commonly used in Singapore. For instance, in the U.K. today, if a person comes through the elite public school system and then Oxbridge, he is regarded as a Toff. He is not automatically categorised as a success on a meritocratic basis since he had access to better facilities to enhance his life chances. He is, in other words, an insider. Meritocracy in the U.K. means someone who had to overcome great odds in order to become somebody will be more highly valued as a person and his success viewed as more valid than that of a Toff's. Hence, in the U.K., a system that encourages 'meritocracy' must succeed in bringing in more 'outsiders' up the ranks. That is a much more complex definition of meritocracy and a far more egalitarian one than the commonly held definition used in SG.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12.48pm

Meritocracy in and of itself is a flawed system. It doesn't take into account the random factors and accidents in a person's life - there is no equal playing field. The sooner Singapore tempers its meritocratic approach by taking care of our people, even the 'losers', the better off we will be. You won't have to try so hard to retain your Singaporean born talent/sheep!

A more interesting take on meritocracy and success and happiness - something the S'pore govt can learn from, maybe?

Anonymous said...

"Reform this money driven society. Quality of life is more important."

Good suggestion, but probably impossible to achieve, because that goes squarely against the thinking of a worldly materialistic society.

Some religious teachings actually focused on this issue for centuries, but I would say that the spiritual thinking has been swept aside by the so-called human nature obsession with greed and wants. The battle is already lost long ago.

Sorry Mr. Wang, if I am atraying from your topic.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang

Personally I believe the fundamental flaw is that ...
education should about providing our people the knowledge and skills (for the global economy) BUT has been changed into some imperial exam system (so-called meritocracy) to differentiate the scholars\worthy (elites) from the unworthy (serfs).

Hence the "rationing" of places in unis\scholarships\etc.