By Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the article “School halts intake of S’poreans” (Straits Times, Jun 6).
News report like jigsaw puzzle?
Sometimes (actually getting more often of late), when you read a news report, it may be like trying to figure out a jigsaw puzzle.
So, are you ready to be puzzled? Ready, get set, go!
How many – cannot tell?
The article states that “MOE declined to give figures on the total number of international school students (shouldn’t come as a surprise when even MPs who ask in Parliament can’t get real answers as to how many foreign students there are in the local universities?) . But market research shows that some 40,000 attend these schools (kudos to the Straits Times journalist for trying to guess what the MOE refused to disclose)”.
So, what sort of message is MOE sending (teaching) to our students? – be non-transparent?
What is “significant level”? – Cannot tell?
As to “One officer said the school was told by MOE that the number of Singaporeans in the college had “reached a significant level”, the $64,000 question (maybe $50,000 question now to match the new MDA licensing regime) that everybody may be asking may be what is “significant level”? – Another “non-transparent” puzzle for students to solve?
Parents and kids stressed?
With regard to “A parent, whose six-year-old son attended kindergarten at the Tampines campus, said she was told by the college last year that her son may not be able to move on to Grade 1 (imagine how stressed this mother and son must be!) – the equivalent of Primary 1 – which would require MOE’s approval They told me that the school had reached its quota of Singaporean students, and they can’t take in more,” said the housewife who declined to be named. She is married to an Italian, and her son holds both Singaporean and Italian citizenship” (So, is MOE forcing her to give up her son’s Singapore citizenship so that their “quota” problem will disappear!)
Got quota or not – cannot tell?
– Dear MOE, how about setting a good example for students by being transparent? – You mean got such thing as quota in international schools for Singaporeans? What is the quota and how was it derived? Ever discussed in Parliament or not or is it like the new MDA licensing regime which nobody knows until it was reported in the news!
No wonder non-transparency is everywhere in Singapore – maybe they started learning from young in school – thanks to MOE!
Here’s the funniest part in the subject news report – “But a spokesman for UWCSEA said: “As far as we are aware, there is no quota.” She said the school monitors the number of applications from locals, but declined to disclose how many Singaporean students it has (maybe can’t blame “monkey see monkey do” – just follow MOE and be non-transparent (moral of the story – maybe better don’t come to Singapore to study because may become “non-transparent”!)
So, got quota or no quota – one say yes, one say no, and MOE never say! Actually MOE did say “An MOE spokesman would only say the percentage of Singaporeans attending international schools “has remained relatively stable over the years”. – Which is as good as not saying anything because if “relatively stable over the years”, then why all the hoo-ha now about quota, cannot enrol, etc?
If have to give a grade for non-transparency – A+ for MOE.
Case-by-case criteria – cannot tell?
To top it off, the MOE said “(locals) are considered for admission to foreign system schools on a case-by-case basis” – yet another example of non-transparency – what’s the criteria hah? Case-by-case means suka-suka is it? If so, then where is the accountability?
Policy never keep up with changing statistics?
With regard to “Sociologist Tan Ern Ser said more mixed marriages involving a foreign spouse could be a factor contributing to the interest in international schools” – maybe the MOE has not been keeping up with the times on the statistics as about 1 in 2 marriages now are between a Singaporean and a foreigner.
Why parents prefer international schools?
In respect of “Government Parliamentary Committee for Education deputy chairman Denise Phua said that some parents “may genuinely prefer the international school system, which is run on a different philosophy, and is less focused on academics”” – maybe she hit it right on the nail – parents will always seek out the best education for their children – instead of the MOE being afraid of more and more parents preferring international schools over local schools – it should welcome the healthy competition and learn from these international schools to improve our education system. After all, isn’t learning ultimately about growing intellectually, improving ourselves, on a continuing basis, etc?
Quota for foreign students?
Finally, I would like to ask you readers (in the spirit of the Nat, Con) to think about why foreign students are allowed to come to Singapore in droves with minimal restrictions (except for a 1st year admission quota of 16% now (used to be 20% for many years) at the local universities, but without any limitation in the private universities and schools (I believe, I don’t really know, maybe only the MOE knows)? Whereas we have “secret” quotas for Singaporeans in the international schools?
Setting a fine example for trust in public institutions?
Is it any wonder that we have so much debate recently about our trust (or rather a lack thereof) in public institutions (there were 2 forum letters in the Straits Times on the same day of the subject article – “Change needed to regain people’s trust” and “How trust is lost”) – when our bastion of learning – the MOE is setting such a fine example of transparency and accountability!