Fundamentally flawed education system: This is Singapore! Part 1

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Refer to the *** section if you want to read some shit which may really happen to you.

Students in Singapore must be given a second chance in education. Once you blew it, there is no turning back.

When I barely passed my A levels, I was told I could not repeat the course unless I failed my General paper. I got a C6, a shit pass. I did not qualify for any local university too… So i have to fuck off to national service. I thought I was intelligent until I realized I was foolish, I wished I could repeat the year again only because i wanted to do better. Haunted me till now.

My younger brother was worse off I guess. He was a late bloomer. In Primary 4, aged 9-10, his fate was predetermined. He was streamed to EM3, destined for technical education. From then on, he topped his class every year till he completed secondary school. He was not required to take the O levels. When he completed his IT diploma in Singapore Polytechnic, he was already 26 years old. His GPA was 3.6 out of 4. In my opinion, that’s a fantastic result but he said he should get some work experience before embarking on a degree course. Anyway, NUS NTU and SMU are out of the question, his friend who got the same GPA couldn’t get in because he didn’t take O levels.

As a brother, I was mad at the shit education system. I knew the O levels are important. Back when he was 14 years old, he topped the class at secondary 2 normal technical levels and the whole family went to the principal’s office to ask for a lateral transfer to secondary 2 Normal academic where he would have a chance to take up the O levels. This principal by the name of Mdm Tan Miau Ling of Regent Secondary school flatly denied our request and repeatedly said she can’t do so as its the MOE policy (ministry of education)they have to adhere to. I was 16 years old then, also among the top in class in the express triple science class and remembered telling her that i could help my brother in his studies. I was ignored. We even suggested that could start at secondary 1 Normal academic. “NO WAY! NO WAY! NO WAY!” She said that if we came 1 year earlier when he was secondary 1, it was possible. My heart was filled with great disappointment. Till today, I couldn’t forget her name.

MORAL OF THE STORY:

LATERAL TRANSFERS ARE NOT POSSIBLE. I.E. NORMAL TECHNICAL TO NORMAL ACADEMIC NOT POSSIBLE.

LEVEL DEMOTION IS NOT POSSIBLE, I.E. SECONDARY 2 NORMAL TECHNICAL TO SECONDARY 1 NORMAL ACADEMIC IS NOT POSSIBLE.

TO GET TO NTU, NUS OR SMU, YOU WILL STILL NEED O LEVELS TO BE EVEN CONSIDERED EVEN IF YOUR DIPLOMA GPA IS 3.6 OUT OF 4.

AND I ALSO KNOW ITS NOT POSSIBLE FOR PRIMARY SCHOOL STUDENTS WHO DID BADLY IN THEIR PSLE TO REPEAT PRIMARY 6.

There is more I am sure.

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Fundamentally flawed education system: This is Singapore! Part 2

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Till now, I have seen relatively zero changes to the system. Let me point out the flaws which I deem unbecoming of a “world class education system:”

It’s never holistic. Art, sports, technical and vocational skills are discouraged. Heh, many Singapore parents are disappointed and worried when their children say “I don’t want to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer, anything academic.”

Parents fear for their families’ future when their kids say “I prefer to be a social worker, driver, cook, supermarket manager etc.” Low pay and little career advancement spearheaded by the government and its linked companies. Why do I blame the government? Look, we have no minimum salary, nothing to protect low wage workers and look at the influx of cheaper foreign workers. Even if you are a local and good at your job, they will still replace you with someone cheaper, though less efficient but still gets the job done. And there is no incentive for the employer to upgrade workers’ skills, “I will just find another cheap foreign worker who has the ‘upgraded knowledge and skills’ to do the job.” Well, he could be a local but foreigner is better, no need to pay CPF or levy under an employment pass.

Anything other than academics are discriminated. Discrimination is a strong word and I believe its appropriate. For example, our vocational institute such as the ITE, is traditionally left for those with poor grades from the academic streams. Government and linked institutions systemically look down on ITE graduates: Little job opportunities, low pay, no career advancement and education opportunities. Haven’t you heard of these common terms in Singapore already? Monkey see monkey do, all monkeys now pay peanuts.

In Australia, they have the equivalent of ITE and polytechnics combined, its called TAFE. No discrimination, TAFE or university, parents strongly encourage their children to do anything as long as they are passionate about it. Graduates from TAFE earn as much if not more. I have an aunt living in Brisbane, her two daughters (aged 9 and 16) told me they wanted to be a social worker when they grow up. I was shocked, the indoctrinated Singaporean mindset at work. Heh, money is no problem right? But you get a very decent salary as a social worker there. My aunt is not rich by the way and She is under Aussie govt relief, A$2k per month plus subsidized housing. A PR in Aussie some more.

In Germany, graduates undergo 2 years compulsory apprenticeship to get them the skills necessary for a good career ahead. The govt care about their young people and give them opportunities to grow. In Singapore, we pay our universities full fees for internship. Some companies exploit interns for personal gain and give zero learning opportunities. For my internship, I became an insurance agent for 6 months: Learn to con, and I succeeded.

As a citizen or PR in Australia, study is somewhat free. As a working adult, you want to upgrade your skills in a TAFE or university, FOC. In Singapore, forget about it. I tell you why:

In Singapore, we have WSQ, uniSIM and other institutions offering certificate course or short courses. It benefit some some people only and under the workfare scheme, you pay 50% of the fees. In my opinion, they are for show only, doesn’t change much at all, forget about career change after your course.

***You know what, 2 years ago I applied for a web programming course, missed first lesson due to work commitments. So I came 2nd lesson onwards. When I wanted to withdraw from the course, the school said I must pay full fees because govt will only subsidize if I pass their test. They explicitly told everyone on the first lesson that those who can’t commit or not suitable for the course should withdraw to avoid paying full fees. I came for a few lessons, only understood 30% of the course, found it unsuitable, wanted to withdraw, caught offside. I was told to pay 3k plus or they will take legal actions against me. I went to my MP Gan Kim Yong who was the minister of manpower then(who spearheaded the WSQ subsidies scheme) to seek help. I was an honest man and always take responsibility for what I did but I think asking me to pay 3k plus for going for 5-6 lessons is too much. He helped but I still have to pay half of it, 1.5k which I gladly accepted. To date, I still bear a grudge on that scheme, it was suppose to help me, not eat my money. Si beh FML suay sia!

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Fundamentally flawed education system: This is Singapore! Part 3

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For those aspiring for a degree, masters and above, let me remind you that NUS, NTU and SMU only have 25-30% Singaporeans. My MP told me about it in an email replying to my queries. That was back in 2010 I think. I still have the email.

Oh come on, there’s still private degrees here… Singapore is a hub for private university education. If you can’t get into local uni, go private lah… I can imagine ignorant people saying this to me… Well I took their advice and took up an RMIT degree in SIM.

When I got out to work, my friends in The Human Resource field told me my degree is considered 3rd class and no government agencies will hire you unless they very desperate. You are unrecognized, categorized perhaps in the diploma category. I was mindful that the government owns 60% of the economy here. Anyway, at the workplace, I knew paper qualifications didn’t matter as long as I am intelligent enough, adaptable and work hard. I’ve made it all by myself, in sales. I have mastered the art of persuasion. However, deep down, I know i don’t need the degree to qualify for the job.

Taking another degree for a career change etc in Singapore is not possible unless you have more than 100k minimum. That is you go overseas to a reputable university to get a recognized degree. For my case, armed with the RMIT business degree, and 4 years working experience, I applied for a masters degree in NTU, NUS and SMU. You know lah, confirm rejected. Only the part time MBA from uniSIM will consider me. I am not going to disappoint myself again. Then again, I considered accounting degree here in NTU or NUS. Its 3 years for a CPA. As I researched further, a CPA masters in the TOP 3 universities in Australia is only 2 years. Then, the idea of migration crept in…

There comes a time when the job becomes stale, lots of money with lots of uncertainty. You either move on to management, career change or upgrade yourself with a masters or another degree in another field of work. Initially, I have chosen management but that job was to manage and motivate your people to get the numbers. Looks good, but I was told to sell insurance, something which I never believed in. You sell a piece of shit telling your customers that its a pot of gold. I would never betray my conscious.

I did apply to some govt jobs and took interest in teaching. NIE never replied my application. Perhaps my degree sucked. Anyway, I had a couple of offers from my CEO customers to work for them. One from Melbourne and one to start a company for him in Singapore. I chose to start the company with him as a consultant and a shareholder. Did that only after i resigned from my bank job. I was paid handsomely. As for the Melbourne job, the CEO said he could wait for me until I finish masters degree in Brisbane. At that time, my mind was already set on migration as well as taking my masters degree.

I am not saying that a private overseas degree in Singapore is bad. It’s actually good in essence but then again you have 200-300 students to one lecturer, I doubt the situation helps. Besides, there is a systematic discrimination from Singapore inc. oh yah, I remembered from wikileaks some dumb ass civil servant claimed that Singapore don’t need too many university graduates.

Lastly, I want to point out that all local universities were built with the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors as well as taxpayers. To admit majority foreigners as well as funding their stay here is ridiculous. The funds should be channelled to young Singaporeans.

A$6490 for a 2006 KIA Cerato, 2nd owner, good condition and honest dealer!

I paid A$6490 for this car and another $538 for yearly comprehensive car insurance from Allianz. It took me a few days research to get this bargain. I have to travel all the way down to Gold Coast from ipswich to get it. 1hr 30min journey.

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Everything has its pros and cons. Lets start with the cons:

1. When shifting gears from 2 to 3, the car gives a small jerk… Dunno what’s going on there but will call dealer later

2. The dealer has an attitude. It’s his yard and his car, live by his rules.

3. Still thinking of one more.

Pros:

1. Great bargain! Dirt cheap 2L car, good drive good power!

2. The people on the roads are very polite and gracious too!

3. Cheaper fuel. I can find A$1.3-1.5 per litre here which is about Sgd 1.6-1.9 max. I usually get the cheapest one!

4. Lastly, big car… 5 seater with a hatch at the back. Dealer automatically gave me a A$1000 discount because I was nice to him. He thought we were Japanese.

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September Update: Jerk due faulty car electronics. The car’s electronics, gear box and engine belt was replaced. The first 2 was FOC under warranty and I changed the engine belt for A$581.

The 10 days in Australia, the suburbs

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It’s almost 10 days in Australia. Staying at the suburbs and living very comfortably. You have big spaces, front and back yard, car ports and lots of time. It’s normal to sleep at 8 or 9pm. We don’t do as many things as we do in Singapore in a day. Well, this is prime for me to get on to something… Just that I have yet to adapt to the life here. The food auntie cook is v good but the Asian food in shopping centres taste nothing like food. Eating out is expensive considering that you are on a budget now. Then again there are good restaurants here, but its quite a distance away.
The weather is good here. Imagine that you are in a air conditioned room and the air is fresher. That’s the weather here.

Lastly, the people are very friendly and polite. Life’s good for them, no stress. I have yet to experience any racism. My aunt said 70% of the people are v nice but the other 30% aren’t. She said the other 30% includes her own nationality. As for me, I know what to do when interacting with the locals, just be polite and always put on a smile. Australians know real Singaporeans are very polite, friendly, helpful and adaptable bunch. We are taught in schools to be gracious and in all other positive manners and behaviors.

I know many people say Asians are second class citizens here… But I’ve felt worse in Singapore… How people treated my wife and how things can go against you when the gahmen says that’s for the best of our nation. Then again, I can’t fault them too much, that’s life isn’t it? I just have to be very rich and Singapore will be my playground.

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