It was reported that scholars from India under scholarships administered by the Ministry of Education (MOE) would be arriving in Singapore this month and next month. They are essentially scholarship holders of A*STAR Youth Scholarship and SIA Youth Scholarship. Some would be going to Sec 3 while others to pre-university 1.
Since the announcement, there has been a constant buzz all over social media on the matter, with the majority of Singaporeans questioning why the government keeps giving scholarships to foreign students instead of helping the local students more.
Subsequently, MOE released a statement on its Facebook page last Thursday (5 Dec) in attempt to counter the negativity that were spilling online.
“There has been some discussion online and in messaging apps that MOE is recruiting only students from India through scholarships,” MOE wrote. It said that the government does provide a wide range of scholarships and financial aid, predominantly to Singaporeans.
“We also award a small number of scholarships to promising young international students from ASEAN countries, China and India. While here, they help promote goodwill and understanding among young people from different countries,” it explained.
MOE went on to say that “some” of these foreign students would eventually sink their roots here although it didn’t say how many. It said, “Over time, some have become PRs and citizens, sunk roots here, and contribute to Singapore.”
MOE disclosed that 0.9%, or close to 1%, of secondary and pre-university students are foreign students on scholarship.
“Only about 0.7% of these foreign students on scholarships are from India. So 0.7% of 0.9% – or 1 in 16,000 – are scholarship holders from India,” it said, and added that it would look into amending its websites, so as “not to give the impression that the scholarships only target students from a particular country”.
Interestingly, MOE’s Facebook statement, intended to imply some form of justification and cool the air, only brought more heat to the matter at hand upon garnering strong reactions from online users under the comment section.
Many of them slammed MOE for providing such scanty numbers and figures rather than laying out all the proper statistics to reveal the full picture.
Others wondered if the money spent on foreign students would be – or rather, should be – better spent on those who are born and bred here. They questioned whether or not these foreign students will positively contribute to the nation, adding that most of these foreign students have little to zero intention on doing so as they tend to reap the benefits and later move on.
What’s more, a few even pointed out that some of these foreign students “habitually display inconsiderate behaviours”.
Meanwhile, a couple of netizens also brought up the recent case of MOE holding back the PSLE results certificate from a financially-struggling family as they questioned the integrity of MOE for seemingly giving higher priority and benefits to foreigners.