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!