The Singapore General Election will be held on 11 September 2015.
Has the current ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), done its job or has it hurt Singaporeans instead?
Over the next two weeks, I will be compiling the past articles that I have written into the different thematic areas, so that you can see for yourselves if the PAP has helped Singaporeans or if it has actually make lives more difficult for Singaporeans.
In today’s article, the focus is on EDUCATION.
You can click on the red headers below to read more of each of the articles.
So, PM Lee might say that, “every school is a good school”. Then, what happened? Why is the reality so different?
Perhaps Vice-Principal Pushparani Nadarajah had hit the nail on the head – do “our leaders and top officers” even dare to put “their children in ordinary schools near their home”? Does Lee Hsien Loong even buy his own rhetoric that “every school is a good school”?
But, why are things so uneven in Singapore? Perhaps the following statistics will show you why.
Singaporeans pay one of the highest tuition fees among the rich countries – the second highest in fact, after Ireland. Even in the United States and Australia, their students there only pay US$5,402 and US$3,924 respectively. Not only that, for countries like Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, students do not even need to pay tuition fees!
When compared the other high-income countries, for our Singaporean students, we have the lowest proportion of students who are able to go on scholarships.
So, as if it’s not already bad enough that Singaporeans already pay the second-highest tuition fees, we are also given the lowest amount of support!
Last but not least, because Singaporeans are made to pay one of the highest university fees among the high-income countries and our students also have the lowest proportions who are able to receive scholarships, is this the reason why we also have one of the lowest enrollment of our students into university education?
(3) Singapore Government Spends $400 Million To Invite International Students To Study In Singapore?
So, we were told that international students had received tuition grants of $210 million every year. But what if we were to include the scholarships?
Based on a rough estimation, for the 5% who did not receive tuition grants but who could have received scholarships, about $120 million should have been spent on them. Of those who had received tuition grants and who would also have received scholarships, about $65 million should have been spent on them.
In total, there could have been $400 million spent by the government to bring in international students to study in Singapore.
Now, let’s put the possible $400 million into a bit of perspective. If you just look at how much Singaporeans would have to pay for university tuition fees, this $400 million might actually enable all Singaporeans who are currently studying in the local public universities to study for FREE!
In 2013, the total undergraduate enrollment at the NUS and NTU was 49,463. As 14% would be on scholarships, this would mean that 6,925 students would be on scholarships. Since two-thirds of those on scholarships would be foreigners, this means that 4,617 of those on scholarships are foreigners.
Next, since 18% of the students are foreign students, there would be a total of 8,903 foreign students. If 4,617 on them would be on scholarships, this would mean that 52% of the foreign students would be on scholarships.
Also, as only one-third of those are scholarships are Singaporeans, this would mean that only 2,308 Singaporeans would receive scholarships. However, there are 40,560 Singaporean (and PR) students, which means that only 6% of these students were on scholarships.
But, why is it there there are only 6% of Singaporean and PRs on scholarships while 52% of foreigners get to be on scholarships? Also, of the 6% of Singaporean and PR on scholarships, how many of them are actually Singaporeans?
So, what is the truth? This it it – the government had said that, “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.“
What’s more, when you compare Singapore’s class sizes with the other high-income countries and even some developing countries, you will see that no other country has class sizes bigger than Singapore’s – no other country has class sizes bigger than 30 in primary education and 40 in the secondary education!
In fact, this precarious phenomenon is not restricted only to primary and secondary education.
When you look at the student-faculty ratio for our universities and compare it with the top universities in the world, you will see that we also have over-populated class sizes!
According to the government, the “student to faculty ratios (SFRs) at the autonomous universities (AUs) … for programmes such as Science, Engineering, Social Science, and Business” is 20:1.
And when you compare this to all the other top American and British universities, all of them have SFRs which are significantly much lower than Singapore’s!
When you compare the starting pay of workers of the different education levels in Singapore with the other countries, you will see that university graduates in Singapore earns the highest wages relative to someone with a below upper secondary education!
In fact, the disparity in wages between a university graduate and Singaporeans with a below upper secondary education is the widest among the high-income countries!
Not only that, the disparity widens – because university graduates are most likely to be the only ones who will see significant pay increases over their lifetime!