Saturday, December 29, 2007

Singapore students receive a poor education

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The main purpose of an education is to teach us to think. To inculcate a desire to find the truth. And when it is found, to have the courage to enforce it. And in enforcing it, mankind benefits. Justice and decency is served. And mankind advances.

The main purpose of an education is to develop certain principles in us; certain convictions. And to have the courage to defend it.

This is the most important part of an education; besides learning medicine, learning law or engineering. What good is it, if you have all the technical education, but no soul? But you cannot be a good lawyer, a good engineer or a good scientist without first having certain convictions. Which convictions the student has developed through a desire for knowledge and the truth. Through assiduous study and research over time.

And based on this definition of a good education; if there is a grading system for college education around the world, Singapore would probably rank 146th worst education system; just as Singapore is ranked as having the 146th least free press in the world by an internationally recognized organization monitoring the newspapers in the world.

My bleak assessment of Singapore students comes from watching Riz Khan's interview with Singapore students aired on Al Jazeera Television on Dec 27, 2007. The interview was with students in their 20s from Singapore University. The questions by Riz Khan related to Singapore's rigid and controlled society. About the lack of free speech and expressions. Lack of fundamental rights.

The students were described and confessed that they were well travelled. More than one student confirmed they had studied in the United States. We therefore would have expected a more open view as regards fundamental human rights, like free sppech.

We all know these students are aware of the restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression in Singapore. Yet when asked directly about the restrictions on the freedoms of speech and expression, they were prevaricating. Hedging and hemming. Dodging the issue. Through fear. Fear of the government. Fear not to upset the government. Making sure they did not directly attack this government. So that their criticisms if any were calculated, diluted and moderated.

They appeared apologetic of the government, saying things like, Singapore was different from the west. That Singaporeans value judgements were different. That Singapore was not yet ready for the freedoms. That the government is working towards giving more freedoms to Singaporeans. That they expect change to come slowly. That they hope it will come. That they themselves wanted more freedom. That freedom was good for Singapore.

Yet, not even one student said that he or she was prepared to do anything about it. None of them were engaged in any real activity to bring about the desired change. They said they were hoping that the government will bring about the change. And they appeared to say that they will wait until the government sees fit, if and when they eventually decide, to give them freedoms.

The students said they were afraid to criticize the government for fear of being arrested by the government. They did not want to go to jail. So they are not prepared, they said to openly criticize the government.

This is in spite of the fact that they know, or should know by now, that the Singapore constitution gives them these fundamental rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and various other fundamental freedoms. But not one of them was prepared to exercise these rights, even though it belonged to them.

By the way, all these students also know and are aware that Dr. Chee Soon Juan and other activists are repeatedly being arrested and imprisoned for doing nothing more than merely exercising their fundamental rights. Yet none of them even mentioned the name of Dr. Chee Soon Juan during the entire interview; let alone actively participating with him in the cause of freedom!

Even though they appeared in their 20s, they were nothing more than overgrown babies, waiting for their guardian Mr. Lee Kuan Yew to give them more freedom; just as Lee Kuan Yew will give them jobs security and everything.

These are not the men and women who can govern or run Singapore. They are not leaders. No leadership qualities at all. No convictions of any sort whatsoever. No burning ideals. No aspirations. No hope. It appears to me now that in Singapore only Lee Kuan Yew has any strong ideas about anything. All the rest are waiting for him to tell them what to do next.

These Singapore college students appeared weak, acting like overgrown babies; as if they were waiting for their parents to tell them what to do next. Or for Lee Kuan Yew to tell them that.

While American students defy the police in protest against the war in Iraq, the inaction in Dafur and even tying themselves to trees to prevent their felling by loggers to save the spotted owl, these Singapore college students are waiting for Lee Kuan Yew to give them their freedoms! Now these American students are some students. They have convictions and passions. They will one day become leaders. Not like the overgrown babies of Singapore University.

The Al Jazeera u-tube video interview with these obedient Singapore college students can be watched on the blog Singabloodypore.

Thank God, I did not receive my college education in Singapore! Imagine, I would have turned out like them!

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914


Paulo said...

Good 2008

Anonymous said...

you are right.
i am in singapore, an expat and i know many other expats who will not hire a singaporean in singapore because they have no soul, no common sense, no sense of basic courtesy and must be told every single detail despite having a university degree. this is the same way they will wait to be told on what to do by lee kuan yew and until then will go blindly about their daily life with money, not love, not humanity, not passion, not anything humane except money as their driving force. i will say this, this is more for the chinese singaporean (not every) as compared to the malay or indian singaporean.

singaporeans do not get it. they use the terms western values and asian values well, what is japan, what is south korea? then they will say things and label it "a chinese way" as far as being subservient. well, what about taiwan, what bout hong kong, are they not predominantly chinese and have they not gained some kind of independence and some kind of self identity and rights? and what about your indian and malay brothers in singapore, are they supposed to live like a chinese peasant as well when their lives and culture are filled with color and life and sparkle.

singaporeans are educated, but in truth, they are also stupid. not stupid in terms of numbers or anything like that, but stupid in the way they will dumb-down and be nothing more than sheep. my wife and i want to have children, but we will never, never have any children in singapore. after my work is done, i will have my children and tell them of this place called singapore, and my children will pray for you while your children remain oppressed. it took me 1 week to see that yes, singapore truly does not have a soul, a passion, the fire of life. and there is no way i would ever let my children grow up that way.

no country is perfect, but not having the voice to say you are not perfect and not having courage to do anything or to live in fear of the very people you put in office, haha, yes, these are signs of the very educated wouldn't you say?

Gopalan Nair said...

Hello Paulo Sempre,

Happy New Year to you. Thanks
Gopalan Nair

Anonymous said...

What is Education? Education is the system whereby thought process are stimulated [sic] to expand beyond existing knowledge boundaries i.e. "Thinking outside the box". New knowledge is result of intensive research, a quintessence of human advancement over the existing life mode. Knowledge often does a paradigm shift, destroying the old knowledge to make way for the new one e.g. society for instance, agrarian to industrial to post-industrial knowledge-based one. In a way, it is revolutionary as opposed to evolutionary.
What is education [in Spore Mind speak]? Education is a meal ticket to a cushy civil service job 4life. It is a memory retention process to cram as much useless information as possible in order to regurgitate it out during an exam & suffer post amnesia afterwards. It requires an investment in 10-yr series exams to spot consistent recurrences to exploit. Schools/unis/polys are institutions whereby discipline is enforced & authoritarian figures like teachers, lecturers to be respected like kitchen gods. Knowledge is dispense like rigid rules not to be tampered with & unbreakable. In a perverse way, it is evolutionary, not revolutionary or else the people behind these rules will have a lot of problems. Education [for Spore minds] is the process whereby minds are simplified to obey few key rules: Don't Speak, don't Question, don't Agitate, don't Suggest. If these are followed to the letter, rewards in the form of peanuts & plates of char kway teow will be given. The highest honours for obeying rules in Spore are Ribbon cutting Presidencies & Senior Mentors [for teaching Ministers how to f***]. An obedient servant of the Notorious Kid-you FamiLees was given peanut-filled warehouses & the public were told the truth, "he was paid peanuts". In truth, he thoroughly deserved it as he got a team of trained performing monkeys from MonkeyCorp to convince silly Sporeans to give it peanuts on TV.
Spore education is like training hamsters to run the wheels of the economy - when he is no longer able [grown old/feeble]; he is replace with a new hamster species known as foreignis talentis. The local hamsters are told to learn a new trick like cleaning food courts; hygiene executive for toilets, etc. That, my friend, sums up the value of a Spore Education.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who commenced his post with "What is education", I must say an excellent demolition job (demolition well deserved) of the Singapore education system. And you have used a lot of material as well.

Very insightful. Very observant of the Singapore situation. And very entertaining. I enjoyed it.

Gopalan Nair

Anonymous said...

An Australian marker of exam papers for a distance-learning tertiary education course in Singapore commented about the pedestarian essays he has to mark. There are weak arguments, using the Straits Times as references without attributing to the writers, etc.

Finally, he confirm with me if Singaporeans can think. He understood immediately when I said, they can't and that they just want to get their paper qualifications.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the same students who'll bring america to path of destruction. With America falling apart economically, I believe it has already begun now.

"Now these American students are some students. They have convictions and passions. They will one day become leaders. "