Friday, 22 September 2023

We are shifting our daily news to Gutzy.Asia Support us there!

Summary of Roy Ngerng’s education statistics: For our children’s future?

By Leong Sze Hian

“The problem with Roy Ngerng” well received?

My article which began with “The problem as some people have said, arguably, with Roy Ngerng whom I have co-authored several articles, is that he overwhelms the reader with “tons” of charts and statistics.

So, I have gone to his web site to summarise and list the following statistics, which may make you cry!” – was so well received that (by popular demand) I am doing this again for Roy’s education statistics article – “How Is Singapore’s Education System Unequal?” (Nov 21)..

I have added some of my input (“some” relative to Roy’s very long articles or “a lot” relative to my normal shorter narratives) to Roy’s article.

  • Lowest education expenditure as % of GDP?
    … Compared to the other high-income countries, Singapore’s expenditure of 3.1% of GDP on education is actually the lowest, and has been the case for the past few years. Denmark was the highest at about 9% and Hong Kong the second lowest just above Singapore at about 3.2% (chart)
  • Lowest % of GDP per capita on primary education?
    … Singapore actually spends the lowest % of GDP per capita on primary education (chart)
  • Lowest % of GDP per capita on secondary education?
    … We also spend the lowest % of GDP per capita on secondary education (chart)
  • Relatively higher % of GDP per capita on tertiary education?
    … However, when we compare with the other high-income countries, Singapore actually spends a relatively higher % of GDP per capita on tertiary education. (chart)

Because of spending on foreign students?

Is this due to some extent to the relatively large amount that we may be spending on foreign students – 20% undergraduate first year admission for foreigners, about 70 to 80% of graduate students being non-citizens?

    • Low pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) in primary education?
      … Singapore has the one of the highest pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) in primary education? This means that if you look at Sweden, for example, there is one teacher for every 9 pupils. However, in Singapore, there is one teacher for every 17 pupils – which means teachers are more stretched in Singapore (chart)
    • Low PTR in secondary education?
      … Singapore also has one of the highest PTR in secondary education. In Singapore, there is one teacher to 15 pupils, whereas in some of the other countries, there is one teacher to 10 pupils (chart)
    • PTR vs actual PTR?
      … “Most primary and secondary schools have classes of 40 students or fewer, while Primary 1 and 2 classes have 30 students or fewer. We plan on the basis of 30 students per class at primary 1 and 2 and 40 students per class at the other primary and secondary levels.“You see, what’s the point of saying that we have a PTR of 18 in primary schools when each class doesn’t actually have 18 students? It is very different when each class actually has 30 to 40 students – which is more than twice the PTR of 18. The amount of attention that the teacher can give to each student is thus much reduced.But what is more glaring is that when you compare our class size of 30 to 40 with the other high-income countries, you will see that none of them have class sizes bigger than 30 
    • Lowest proportion of primary school students who actually progress onto secondary school?
      … When you compare our primary school students’ progression to secondary school, what is shocking is that Singapore actually has the lowest proportion of primary school students who actually progress onto secondary school

Open or unequal education system?

But what do you think? Is Singapore’s education system open? Or is our education system unequal?

… Of the “93% of each Primary 1 cohort progressing to post-secondary education”, 30% went to the junior colleges, 40% to the polytechnics, 20% to the ITE, and 3 to 4% to the private education organisations?

If 60% of the polytechnics and ITE students can hardly make it to the public universities and the rest have have to enter private education organisations, with only 30% in the junior colleges who have the most likely chance of entering the public universities, how equal or “open” is our education system when it favours only 30% of the students in Singaporeans, while the rest of the 70% would be disadvantaged by the system

… How is every school a “good school” and how equal or “open” is our education system when the education system is already structured to marginalise the large proportion of Singaporeans?

If the PAP government is sincere in creating an education system which is open and ensures that all schools are “good schools”, is this the way to do so? It is one thing to say that they want all schools to be “good schools”, yet say that even if you are in a “good school”, you might not be good enough to enter the local public universities. This is as well as saying these schools are not good enough.

Education system must change?

Quite certainly, the PAP’s pronouncement of all schools being “good schools” cannot be backed up by how unequal and unfair the education system in Singapore evidently is, and only further entrenches the inequality in Singapore. Such a system that baits our students and Singaporeans into discriminated pathways early in life should be treated with abhor and Singaporeans must rise up and stand up against such discrimination and inequality

Anti-selection in childcare centres?

As I was writing this summary, Terry Xu, the Executive Editor of theonlinecitizen asked me if I could write something on PCF and My first skool (NTUC)  childcare centres.

Arguably, most of the criticisms on our education system like a lacking in creativity, over focus on examinations, lacking in enquiring or open minds, logical and critical thinking, elitism, etc, may be due to some extent to the beginning of our children’s learning journey – our childcare system.


Whoever decided that the childcare subsidies can only be obtained if children enrolled in PCF or My first skool childcare centres may have condemned, particularly our lower-income families’ children to be deprived of the free market choice of the best centre for each children as perceived by the parents or the market.

Also, with such monopolistic unfair competition, arguably, there may be an inherent bias to not strive as hard as in an open and fair competitive environment had the subsidies been made available to all childcare centres.

Even now with the liberalisation of allowing more anchor schools to apply for the status to be eligible for the subsidies given to parents – it may still leave hundreds of childcare centres in the same state of arbitrary selection of which centres may be better because there is no clear and transparent criteria of how centres are determined as meeting the standards, at least from a “subsidy eligibility” perspective.

How do we explain that the fees at some of the rest of the childcare centres, which are not the two anchor operators, are actually lower despite not being eligible for the subsidies?

Influx of foreign workers in childcare sector too?

In this connection, it did not help the quality of teaching and services in the childcare sector when the liberal influx of foreign workers may have contributed to the median gross wage of preschool teachers to be only $1,800 now, despite all the rhetoric about the need to raise their pay in recent years (“Training and pay rise for pre-school teachers”, Straits Times, Nov 21).

Childcare and related workers’ median gross wage is only $1,200 according to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) occupational wage benchmarking tool.

Anecdotally, the proportion of non-Singaporeans working in some of these childcare centres appears to be quite high, which may also have contributed to the issue of the quality of instruction.

So, what is the percentage of workers in these childcare centres who are not Singaporeans, excluding the supervisors and the headquarters’ staff?


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Latest posts

Election surprises and certainties: Dissecting Tharman’s presidential win

In the 2023 Presidential Election, Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam secured a stunning 70.4% landslide victory, surprising many, including himself. Despite expectations that TKL would win the opposition votes, voters from both camps showed a preference for Tharman's charisma and perceived competency. As Singapore reflects on the outcome, questions arise about the election's fairness and the real implications of Tharman's dominant win.

Volunteer as a Polling and Counting Agent for Singapore’s 2023 Presidential Election

For the upcoming Singapore Presidential Election on 1st September, members of the civil society have spearheaded an initiative to strengthen our democratic fabric. We invite committed individuals to join us as Polling and Counting Agents, standing together for a transparent, fair, and just election. This vote counting exercise, organized by members of civil society, is not specifically in support of Mr Tan Kin Lian, a candidate in the upcoming Presidential Election. It's an exercise in active citizenry. Nonetheless, Mr Tan endorses this initiative, which hinges on his candidacy, championing transparency, and has given permission for the results to be shared publicly.

Reflections from the Centenary: The Legacy of LKY and Singapore’s Future

Gilbert Goh reflects on the LKY centenary event: an inspiring showcase of a leader's global legacy juxtaposed against current challenges, urging Singapore to continue its path of progress.

Lim Tean advocates for Tan Kin Lian: A visionary leader for Singapore’s Presidency

In his speech at Mr Tan Kin Lian's launch of his presidential bid, Mr Lim Tean passionately championed the need for a truly Independent President. Highlighting Mr Tan Kin Lian's unique credentials and genuine concern for the wellbeing of Singaporeans, the Peoples Voice leader emphasized the pressing challenges of rising living costs and job insecurities faced by the public. Mr Lim depicted Mr Tan Kin Lian as a beacon of hope for the nation, advocating for a leader who genuinely understands and represents the people’s aspirations.

Tan Jee Say endorses Tan Kin Lian for President: A courageous, genuine, and humble...

In advocating for a truly representative leader, Tan Jee Say underscored Tan Kin Lian's humility, courage, and genuine dedication. Highlighting the pressing need for restored public trust and effective independence, Tan Jee Say emphasized that Tan Kin Lian, as the 'People's President', would bring back hope to Singaporeans and champion true democracy

Tan Kin Lian’s pledge: Rekindling unity and charting a vigorous future for Singapore

In the press conference to announce his bid for the Singapore presidency, Tan Kin Lian emphasizes safeguarding Singapore's reserves and strengthening public service integrity. Drawing on his 30-year leadership at NTUC Income, he envisions a future with affordable living, accessible housing, and job stability, pledging collaboration with the government for a united nation.

Strengthening Singapore’s political foundations: A call to action by Leong Mun Wai on Singapore’s...

Leong Mun Wai urges Singaporeans to strengthen political checks and balances, emphasizing, 'The best is yet to be for Singapore if we dare to make the right decision in upcoming elections.

Trending posts