Monday, June 22, 2009

A Time For Action

The recent scandal involving fake RMIT degrees gets my blood boiling. And it is not just because it involves people being cheated or taken advantage of.

Education is the bedrock of our society. Back in the 1960s when we were a young nation, most families were poor and working adults were not well educated. But one thing we all believed in was the notion that education was the ticket to a better life. So parents worked hard to put their kids through school because they wanted their children to have a better life than they did. Most succeeded. Even if you only had O Levels, you could earn a decent living and work towards being part of the middle class.

But things have changed. It is not enough to have only O Levels. Most now regard having a diploma or degree as a minimum to succeed. But public university and polytechnic places are limited. That will still to be the case even as we build new institutions, including the fourth university. If you do not qualify, you will have to turn to expensive private institutions. And many do – investing hard earned money to obtain qualifications in the hope these will enable them to get good jobs and therefore, a decent standard of living.

That is what makes the conduct of “institutions” which sell fake degrees particularly egregious. They are snake-oil salesmen selling hope. They take advantage of people who are eager and willing to work hard for a better life, and destroy not only their dreams, but also those who are dependent on them.

I made a few suggestions in my speech in Parliament on the President’s address, but it was only the one on Nominated Ministers which received publicity. I also suggested that the Government should give loans (on reasonable terms) to Singaporeans who want a tertiary education, including in private institutions. That would give a leg-up to those who need it most. Further, if such loans are restricted to courses in institutions which are properly accredited, that would (hopefully) drive the fly-by-night schools out of business as fewer people would need to go to them.

1 comment:

  1. what are you doing about this? when you vote on bills, how thoroughly do you consider them, or do you just vote with your party?