Talented-at-birth-but-a-liability-at-old-age - ST (1 Sept) - Every child's talent is valued: PM
- To: Lee Hsien Loong
cc: Opposition MPs/NCMP/Dr Chee Soon Juan
cc: Feedback Unit
1 Sept 2006
Hi Loong,I am indeed heartened to read in today's Straits Times ("Every child's talent is valued: PM") and Today ("A class with room for all").But hold it. Every child's talent is valued? This hasn't been the case all this while, has it? Look at what happens to a 10-year-old child if he (or she) is not streamed into the Gifted Education Program (GEP). Like the rest of the 99% of his cohorts who fail to get into the GEP, he will not have the "extra resources" (in teacher attention, funds (remember the MOE-funded overseas trips as revealed by GEPper Gayle Goh?) , infrastructure - both software and hardware) GEPpers are showered with. Along the way, more will "drop" out. I personally know of a lady who "failed" in the local school system (booted out at Junior College - Year One at age 17 because of her lack of competency in Mandarin) but is now on university scholarship to pursue her PhD in IT at a reputable Australian university, probably never to return to Singapore, the home country that spurned her ! (The only consolation is that hopefully, changes are underway to ensure such mistakes are not repeated).Why the sudden change of heart now? Declining birth rates and "Babies Not Enough" perhaps? (Jack NEOs out there - please take note of your next project) - "boh-hir-hey-ah-ho", meaning "no fish, prawns also can".
At the same time, I could not help but notice the word, "talent" stood out glaringly, now with all the talk about talent-this-talent-that (eg foreign talent, foreign sports talent, etc..). Why am I so cynical? The source of my cyncism might have something to do with three of PAP's failed policies whose ramifications are now fully felt: The education system mentioned above, the "Stop-At-Two" family campaign of the 60s and 70s and the 80s' "Graduate Mother Scheme" after then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's "Great Marriage Debate". Conspiracy theories abound on why was the then government so concerned with babies born out of uneducated or lowly-educated citizens, especially in great numbers (perhaps believing such offsprings would not have the genetic make-up of "intelligence" inherited from their parents, in the famous words of then premier Lee arguing his "Nature vs Nurture" inclinations). The only way to find out the justification for these failed policies is for our Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to come clean, being the only minister left in the present PAP government to have been involved in those early policies. But please do not wait too long before it is too late as he will bring with them to the grave if they are not revealed publicly now.
The irony is also not lost on me that the government seems to consider these precious babies and young children "talents", but as they age and grow older (to even as young as Primary 4 or 10-year-old non-GEPpers) slowly but surely, those that are left and still considered "talent" constitute probably not more than 10% of their cohorts.
Of course, these top 10% (or max 20%) of the "talents" are groomed and given special care to prepare them for top government positions with scholarships thrown in.
What happens to the other 80 to 90%? Well, by the time they reach the "ripe old age" of 40 and above (ie 30 or 40 years' time for the children of today, ie. 2035 to 2050), many will be left by the wayside to fend for themselves while imported talent (naturalised talents and PRs) will most likely outnumber them 3 to 1 and eat them for lunch (see Seah Chiang Nee's report in the Star newspaper, 4 June, 2006, "Creating more space" - refer link, http://littlespeck.com/content/development/CTrendsDev-060604.htm orhttp://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/6/4/focus/14429144&sec=focus ).
Remember, by then, there will be some 7 - 8 million Singaporeans jostling for space and jobs in this tiny island of some 600 sq km (ie. a density of 13,000 per sq km, up from a current 7,000 per sq km). So how will these "talented-at-birth-but-a-liability-at-old-age" be taken care of by the government (probably by then comprising "foreign talents" that outnumber Singapore-born-and-bred citizens)? In the famous words of Mr Khaw Boon Wan: offshore nursing homes or retirement villages in Johore or Indonesia (refer article in Channel News Asia, 17 April 2006, "Government shortlists potential sites to build retirement village" - refer link,http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/203544/1/.html ).
When this reality bears out, is this any different from the Orwellian treatment of "Boxer"?
Rgds=========================================================The Straits Times, 1 Sept 2006Every child's talent is valued: PM
============================================================Hot News // Friday, September 1, 2006A class with room for allPM Lee wants teachers, schools to ensure that no child is left behind
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