IS EDUCATION MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT TALKING COCK?

every_job_is_good_job_talking_cockCome I clap for you. Some job in reality is more equal than others

Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat said in his speech during the Committee of Supply (Education) debate last Friday there is a need for the country to embark on changes to transport the education landscape which needs collective will by employers, educators, students and society. He acknowledged that students were under stress to perform academically as they will be judged based on their grades. He goes on and on about the need for diverse pathways that can define success apart from academic route

Looks like Heng tried to appease the young parents who worry about the paper chase that will place undue stress on their strawberry children and I am hesitant to say this is not a pre-election political gimmick to calm the unsteady ground.

I cannot help but noticed Heng emphasized on the alternative routes to success, but he did not reject the current model of academic route to success which has arguably served Singapore well for the past 50 years.

What he envisions will not be effective unless changes start from within the civil service itself.

The civil service has an emphasis on academic grades which defines the starting pay package for new officers and their career progression because academic grades is a quantifiable variable that justifies the officer’s salary; after all, their salaries are borne by tax payers. Let’s take a look at MINDEF officer’s pay package:

saf_army_officer_payPaper chase not important? My ass.

You can see their starting pay is determined by their qualifications – a diploma holder LTA can only draw $3090, a pass degree LTA can draw $4060, a pass degree with merit can draw $4220, an honours degree (2nd lower and below) can draw $4390, and honours degree holder with 2nd upper and above can draw $4590.

Any sane thinking student who saw this chart and wishes to pursue a career with SAF will definitely try to get into local university and score well. Who in the right mind will sign on SAF career officer as a diploma holder when you know your starting salary pales in comparison to a degree holder but you know you will be performing similar roles as them? Imagine a diploma holder platoon commander knows that the platoon commander one floor below you earns minimally $1000 more but both are performing the same roles and that chap is earmarked to be OC or CO while the diploma holder knows he is stuck. It must have been a sucky feeling.

MINDEF’s focus on academic qualification is jarring. But some public agencies are not so. Let’s take a look at the starting package for Senior Police Officers –

spf_pay

You cannot help but notice that they have 2 ranks listed for applications – ASP and INSP, and it comes with a caveat that says “Appointment grade and starting salary will vary according to assessment of academic qualifications”. Why are there 2 ranks? A pass degree holder and a degree with merit will appointed to be an INSP, while graduates with good honours will sign on with a higher rank (and salary) as ASP. At least the SPF tries to present the chart in a less elitist manner.

For the hopeful parents who think that their child will have a better life after the educational review, think again. The mindset that “good academic record is a better officer” has served Singapore well for 50 years and I doubt this successful model can be changed overnight.

So I think it is still worthwhile to send your kids to tuition classes and drill them well to ensure they ace for their examinations. Good paper qualification still counts towards a good start in your child’s career.

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3 thoughts on “IS EDUCATION MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT TALKING COCK?”

  1. Khaw BW said that you can’t eat your degrees and Heng SK have said that every neighbourhood school is also a good school.
    They want elite schools and degrees to be reserved for their progenies. As it is, Singapore is already having too many Generals without enough troops to command. We also have so many ministers, mayors and other honorifics that very soon may not even be enough for those entitled. And they all want the best pay in the world without another degree holder to come along asking for higher pay to afford a bigger HDB flat.

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