Jamus Lim encourages Singaporean PMETs to seize opportunities to be posted to other ASEAN capitals

Jamus Lim encourages Singaporean PMETs to seize opportunities to be posted to other ASEAN capitals

Associate Professor Jamus Lim, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Seng Kang GRC, is proposing the idea of funding a network of international schools in major regional capitals within ASEAN that offer the full Singapore curriculum, with the aim of reducing frictions for families relocating for career opportunities.

He believes that Singapore international schools—modeled on a curriculum that permits seamless exit and reentry into local schools— can significantly reduce frictions to families choosing to relocate for a few years, as one (or more) member pursues career opportunities.

“These schools would charge the same nominal miscellaneous fees (with no school fees for Singaporean students). The levels would mimic those here, so you can plug-and-play between Hanoi and Hougang, Jakarta and Jurong, or Bangkok and Buangkok.”

In a recent Facebook post, Asst Prof reiterated his proposal, which he had mentioned in Parliament last month.

Broaden international and regional perspective among Singaporeans

He recalled his personal experience of working in different locations worldwide when he was younger and emphasized the value of approaching old problems with a fresh perspective informed by experiences from elsewhere.

“Many people who gain such perspectives do so from living abroad; whether it is by studying, or working, or just extensive travel. ”

This is because when people are thrust into an alien environment, they are forced to confront their preconceptions and assumptions.

“If you’ve moved away from home before, you’ll know what I mean,” Asst Prof Lim gave examples of even simple tasks, like figuring out brands of cereal or instant noodles available in a new city or navigating bus routes, that could be intellectual challenges.

However, those who settle down would be able to benefit from the entire learning process, including developing a sense of self-reliance and problem-solving capability.

“You also learn how to be sensitive to how folks from different cultures think, and come to accept that your way of looking at an issue may not translate into something that appeals to the market at large. ”

Jamus Lim encourages Singaporean PMETs to seize opportunities to be posted to other ASEAN capitals

He then came to the point that some hiring managers in today’s PMET market rue how Singaporeans may not have such an international, especially regional, perspective.

Even those who have studied abroad have typically done so in other advanced economies such as Europe, Japan, Australia, or the United States, rather than in emerging and developing countries where the modus operandi and business challenges are quite different and unique.

“So it is little surprise that—given how I strongly believe that the future of Singapore’s economic model should be oriented more regionally rather than globally—I think that our PMETs should seize opportunities to be posted to other ASEAN capitals, for short stints.”

But there are barriers to doing so, of course. Some of it is language, although that can be learned and English is a global business lingua franca. Some of it is reluctance to take a chance.

Yet another is being able to convince parents to pull their kids out of the school system, only to reinsert them a few years later, wrote Asst Prof Lim.

While some may question the use of taxpayer funds to support these schools, Asst Prof Lim argued that Singaporean families relocating abroad are still contributing to the system and that subsidies already exist for a Singapore international school in Hong Kong.

“What if there aren’t enough Singaporean students in those countries? Well, we can start small, then scale up as needed. ”

Asst Prof Lim noted that Enterprise Singapore is currently promoting local firms to expand globally.

“This suggestion extends that initiative to another dimension—education—which many families regard as one of the key dealbreakers when choosing whether or not to move.”

During the Committee of Supply 2023 debate in Parliament last month (28 Feb), Asst Prof Lim said the purpose is to provide a subsidised Singaporean education for Singaporean children following their parents overseas and reduce the frictions associated with moving their families to different countries.

“By reducing the frictions associated with moving their families to a different country, it offers positive incentives for our local professionals to relocate and thereby upgrade their experience and exposure to the region, which is often cited as a reason for local middle managers being skipped over for promotion.”

“They would pay comparable supplemental fees just as any student enrolled in a local school would. And they would take the same common exams – PSLE, “O” or “N” Levels – at the appropriate time and level, ” Asst Prof Lim proposed in his speech.

MOE provides funding and teaching support to the Singapore International School in Hong Kong

In November last year, Minister of State for Education Gan Siow Huang confirmed that MOE provides funding and teaching support to the Singapore International School in Hong Kong.

Singaporean students there can get a subsidy in absolute dollars to offset part of their school fees.

Asst Prof Lim further asked if there was any strategic reason why set up an International school in Hong Kong, and not anywhere else.

In reply, MOS Gan explained that the Singapore International School in Hong Kong was set up in the 1990s.

“There was a time when there were many Singaporean adults who were working in Hong Kong and with a sizeable number of children who wanted to have Singapore style and Singapore curriculum type of education in Hong Kong.”

She added that MOE extended assistance to the community in Hong Kong, so that this would ease the Singaporean students’ integration to our education system when they return back to Singapore.

MOS Gan said MOE has looked into the demand, and while there are many Singaporeans working overseas in many large cities out there, not all are staying in the same place, and some cities are large.

“And secondly, not all parents want Singapore style and Singapore curriculum type of education for their students.”

MOS Gan said a lot of the consideration is driven by the demand from the parents.

“We also consider the resources needed, the resources in terms of educators, as well as funding that has to be made available to these international schools.”

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