Friday, August 31, 2007

The future of Singapore's education system

In the recent National Day Rally by our Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong has put forth certain ideas and plans to further improve our sophisticated education system that is recognised worldwide.

In tune with his aims to ensure that every Singaporean child has the opportunity to receive top-rated education and develop their personal talents into useful aspects that are beneficial to Singapore's economy. He has worked out a the policy of 4 more 'mores':the freedom for principals and teachers to experiment with, resourcess for the schools to make use of, opporunities for needy students to get aid from the Opportunity Funds and last of all, the policy of less teaching and more learning, all with the main purpose of accomplising the aims set by the governmment. This has been proven to be success in some schools such as Mayflower Primary School and Jurong Secondary School where learning have taken on a very different route, an interactive one that engages most of the students in the class. I believe that this is realistic as it has already proven its validity and the only task left is to spread it to all schools nationwide as there may be certain ones that are unable to instill this type of teaching style in fullfledge yet. It is important to the fture of Singapore because in the present society, one must not only possess knowledge in a particular field but a large scope of other skills such as presentation skills and being IT literate are important ones that are able to unvealed through this type of learning methods.

In addition, a couple of language special programmes are proposed by the PM to promote the idea of a third language to be taken up by students. Although incentives such as additional bonus points may be given to get more support for the programmes, the motive is a good one. Learning an additonal language would mean a new door being opened to another culture of our diversed society. It will definitely aid the students in appreciating the cultures and beliefs of their friends and the racious harmony that we enjoy today. Although the process will be difficult, the results it reaps will benefit the country as a whole evntually.

Lastly, the decision by MOE to start a new university by the end of 2010 is to fulfill their last aim in terms of education policies, to get every student into post-secondary education and as many as possible into tertiary instituitions and eventually increasing the percentages of graduates from the present 23% to 30% per cohort into publicly funded universities by the year 2015 which is 8 years from now. This seems like a feasible plan to increase the number of graduates in the society which increases the competiveness of the workforce in this ever globalising world where you can only be the best if you are always n front of the rest. However, there are certain disadventages too. This may result in a large pool of graduates without the required quality and sufficient career opportunites, backfiring the fundamental aim to increase competiveness. But, as long as the quality is maintained at the required standard, there should not be any big problems. Then, the only concern will be with the graduates or other higher levels of education aboard.

In conclusion, all the plans put forward by Mr Lee are just as important as any other economic policies as it concerns the future generation of Singpore, the ones that will bring Singapore to greater heights and i believe that they were succeed under the close and precise planning of the present government.

Political and socio-economic impacts of the demograhpic changes

In the world today, we observe major demographic changes such as the ever-increasing world population and literacy rates of women, the decrease in the feritility rates and natural resources dramatically. And of course, these must have cerain degree of impacts on the dfferent aspects of the world, and most significantly on both the political and socio-economic aspects.

As the literacy rates of women increases over the centuries, so does their social status in the societies. They are also playing their role in sustaining and improving the economies of many countries, on the other hand, they are too upholding their most traditional role, as mothers and guardians of the home. However, those that are achieving the success of fulfilling both the criterias of both roles are decreasing. There are only a handful that are able to handle both in the balance. On the other hand, they are also focusing their energies solely on the careers of their interests and thus putting the idea of having babies and even marrying at the back of their minds. This trend shared between the women all over the world are indirectly causing fertility rates to decrase dramatically and the replacement rates to fall behind the expected figures.

Furthermore, the increasing technological advancement in both developing and developed countries are causing environmental problems throughout the world such global warming and the emission of greenhouse gases. This is resulting in many health problems and dramatic change in climate all over the world albeit it is churning huge amounts of returns which are improving the economies globally, raising the standards of living and reducing the percentages of people living in poverty and with less then US$1 a day.

Therefore, in conclusion, there are always drawbacks in certain decisions we make, and governments and the citizens and occupants of the world must thus make a decision between soaring economies, higher standards of living and everyone of us possessing equal rights with the condtions of our environment and aging populations that may result in our extinction centuries down the road.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The hidden voices within Singaporeans

So much have happened in the past 42 years since Singapore's independence in 1965, many have gone through much, especially the older generations. They have seen the evolution of a 'kampong glam' into a vibrant city which is of world class standard. The success is great, and of course there will be stories leading up to them and the people that made it happen. Yet, only those with enough capital and influence were able to have their stories and experiences known and taken as educational purposes of the history of Singapore. What we are forgetting are the normal people that have lived through that period too. Their experience must not be left out too, theirs is as valuable as those in the memoirs of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Take Mr Rudy Mosbergen, who was mentioned by the author for example, he was just another Singporean living in Sinapore who have gone through the evolution process too, yet the only way he could share his experiences with are the people that he come close with. He, unlike popular people who have their personal memoirs published, did not do anything so significant to aid in the economic progress of Singapore, but he contributed in another important aspect of the country too, the part of being there and participating in supporting the policies drafted out by the leaders.

Therefore, it would be good if more writers and directors will be more willing to go down to general masses level to get more insightful stories of the everyday lives of Singaporeans in the past and at present. I strongly believe that it will add more vibrancy to our lives and allow us to appreciate the things that are happening around us.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Career demands:are they destroying marriages? Commentary on winner's blog)

There were a few points brought up by the commentor, he believes that it is important for the government to impose laws, organise activities for the family as a whole to furhter improve the relations between the family members and for employers to allow flexible working hours for their employees so that they will be able to enjoy quality time with their family to increase the time spent with the family.

Although i agree with him that human is the only resource that Singapore has to rely on and its role in the country is significant in helping to maintain her competiviness in the global market such that our lives must be complete and not in a mess, ibeg to differ in his suggestions to solve these problems.

An occupation is a job that keeps the family in perfect conditions and the family intact. Time should be found to spend with the family outside working hours which may have better results than some who spents lots of time together quarreling. It doesn't help much in improving relationships either. Furthermore, some occuptaions such as white-collared and blue-collared just cannot have flexible working hours to compromise the employees or it would mean the standstill of Singapore's economy. The government can take the initiative to organise more events for the family but it is up to the family member to find time to spent with his/her family. He/she cannot rely solely on her/his employer to change the working hours just for her to spent time enjoying quality time with her family. It just sounds ridiculous.

There are many factors leading to the breakup of marriages and careers are just some excuses to cover the underlying meanings.

Blog:Aw Mun Khay (32/07)

Capital Punishment: To abolish or keep it?

I am for the death penalty if it is applied to serious offenders like serial killers, which causes mayhem in the society and jeopardy in the lives of the people.

The most important purpose of the death penalty is to deter many criminals-to-be from committing murder, preventing recidivism and avoid the unnecessary use of the taxpayers’ money on cold-blooded murderers. Furthermore, the killing of a murderer may save at least one more live that is more worthy than the murderer as the quality of the life saved is often compared to be superior than that of the live being taken. During desperate situations like that, we will have to accept the fact that it is more beneficial to the larger community and we just have to overcome the sense of unpleasantness of taking the live of another.

However, what really justifies a death penalty? Evidences that the police finds at the crime scene? Sometimes, the accused may be so unfortunate that the evidences are also not helping him at all but instead convicting him of his crime. Furthermore, the death penalty is irreversible, a wrong execution carried out may mean an innocent live lost. On the other hand, increasing the degree of punishment may result in more resistance in the capturing process that may possibly be at the expense of more innocent lives.

In conclusion, although there is the death penalty to help in the deterring of crimes, the community must also fight for the prevention of crime and against torturing of the inmates to get information from them or even force them to “change over”. Therefore, as the police forces deters crimes by capital punishment, the masses should also play their part in reducing the percentages of crime rates in their respective states.

Investigating the causes of some international conflicts

Apart from living on the same planet, many of us have countless beliefs and perceptions that are different in a way or another from the people that are around us. Some of the differences as mentioned by the writer of the article are the cultural, religious and political differences. And for most of the times, these differences we have from each group of people may be the fundamentals for prolonged conflicts like those in the Middle East and some parts of Europe and it may even turn out to be amusing to the other parties that are exposed to the cultures and behaviors of a particular group of people.

On the other hand, international conflicts that occur between nations and groups of different civilizations leave us to ponder upon the factors leading to an outbreak of a full scale war. Furthermore, the widening of the income gap between the different levels of people in a society contributes to the tension of it too. As pointed out by the write, it is not only in Islam and Indonesia that internal conflict can be observed, it happens on a worldwide scale which consists of superpowers such as the U,S and Russia in the diverse aspects of a society such as economic, politics and industries.

In conclusion, although there are many aspects pertaining to the cause of the conflicts, many of which boils down to differences, we have to learn to accept and compromise a belief or a culture that is totally different from ours to be able to stop all the conflicts and decrease the complexity of certain issues.

Visits to the Yasukuni war shrine- Respectful or a preview to chaos?

62 years after the second World War, grudges against the Japanese still lingers in the air, especially with their present Prime Minister still visiting the shrine as he had promised the members of the Association of War Bereaved Families to gather more supports for himself.

The shrine honors war criminals from the war, among which are 14 Class A War Criminals and is often seen as a symbol of the Japanese military aggression. However, it is made known to Japan that it is all right for Prime Minister Koizumi to visit the shrine but not his purpose in doing so by China and South Korea. Furthermore, his fellow countrymen are also not supporting him in this decision of his.

If this carries on and he holds on the post as Prime Minister for a second term in the upcoming elections to be held in September, Japan and the neighboring countries may run into some problems with regards to their economic and political relationships. Being one of the most developed countries in the world, Japan requires the backing of the other countries, especially those in Asia and vice versa for the region to prosper. With weak economic ties with China and political ties that are on the brink, his determination to fulfill his promise to continue his visits to the shrine may worsen the situation. Moreover, this may even lead to unnecessary a conflict that is disadvantageous to the world today with terrorism all around us. On top of that, he visits the shrine every 15 August, a sensitive date that the other Asian countries would not like to remember, the day the Japanese surrendered. It somehow implies his sadness in the fall of the country.

Therefore, the only way out is for PM Koizumi to stop his visits to the shrine or maybe change the date of his visits to a date which is less sensitive that would not enrage his neighboring countries, jeopardizing the economics that may have adverse effects.