Last edited by h3artofsword; 21st February 2008 at 11:46 AM.
1. This is a big philosophical question which has been debated by education experts for many years.
2. The problem is that Singaporeans expect the Govt to do things when they should be doing things themselves. Do you think the success of Harvard, Stanford, etc. all happened because the US Dept of Education planned them? If not, why do you expect Ministry of Education to make NUS/NTU excel?
This is a fundamental difference of philosophy. Here there is a reliance on govt to take the lead. But in advanced countries, people want the govt to stop interfering.
Frankly, while the Dept of Education may have a say in the curriculum of state universities, I doubt they can influence what private universities choose to teach or don't teach, or their teaching methods. In other words, Harvard/MIT/etc are where they are today solely due to their own efforts, with no govt support or interference.
3. Schools excel because talent attracts talent. Institutions like Stanford have histories going back over 100 years, and their alumni are proud to contribute back to their alma mater, which enables them to keep up their high academic standards. And because they accept the best students and the best professors, they continually stay at the top of their game, and they continue to dominate.
4. There is nothing "wrong" per se with the S'pore "educational system" just because NUS/NTU cannot beat Harvard/MIT. If it was so easy to beat Harvard/MIT, do you think a Harvard or MIT degree would have any value?
5. Do you know that currently, NUS/NTU are actually like stat boards. You can ask yourself this question-- should our govt influence how and what universities teach and how they are run, or should they hands-off?
Last edited by waileong; 21st February 2008 at 12:02 PM.
Hope more avenues are opening up for you! To learn is to understand things, not just to learn how to do things, but to really understand how things work.......
Are you sure the MOE has so much to say in the local universities? I am not too sure about this ( I worked at an A*star institute), but I do understand it is the primary and secondary + JC's schools that are definitely under the MOE......
I agree with you that one can not 'buy' quality just off the shelf and expects results in 3-5 years time, it needs nurture and time to grow, something A*Star doesn't seem to understand if they want to build up science here....they are more interested in building an industry :-)
Basic science is what is so important, and there is just not enough support for that.......how can one expects applied science to flourish if the basics are not there?
You know, universities are just like other businesses, they have P&L and balance sheets, they compete for talent in the form of students and faculty, and they compete with other universities the world over.
I don't think one should be nationalistic over universities. There are excellent universities located in US, Europe and Asia. A good university is a good university regardless of which country it's in, a lousy university is a lousy one regardless of where it came from.
The fact that many excellent universities started out in US is an accident of history. You know, the last century was basically the American century. So the world's top software companies are in US, so too the top movie companies, top banks, etc.
This is now the Asian century (or China century, for some) and in my view, there is no reason why a new world order would not emerge in the next 50-100 years that would see more of the world's top universities emerge in Asia, just like Asia is now catching up very quickly with the US in many areas.
When you buy a camera/lens, you buy it because of its quality reputation, not because of its country of origin. Frankly, with most items manufactured in whole or in part in China nowadays, the country of origin is really hard to determine. As you know, quality reputation comes from delivering results over time. There was a time, for instance, when Canon was far behind other German camera makers. Look where they are now.
Similarly, I think students who choose to go to a university should not make a decision based on nationalistic reasons. Reputation of the school, value of the degree, costs, etc. are frankly far more important, and if that means the best students choose Harvard/MIT, it should not be taken as a "failure" of the Singapore "educational system".
Last edited by waileong; 21st February 2008 at 12:22 PM.
When you control the purse strings, when you control the senior appointments such as the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, when you decide (for example) that SMU shall be a management university and thus not compete with NUS in the sciences/engineering, etc.-- is that not a lot of influence?
As an example, I suggest you look at the National University of Singapore (Corporatisation) Act at http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/non_versi...thod=part&sl=1 to see what the Ministers' powers are. In fact, this is a replacement for the old National University of Singapore Act where the Govt had even more power. Unfortunately, because that Act has been repealed, the text is not available online. If you have access to a lawyer's office, you could ask them to dig up the old text for you if you wish.
Last edited by waileong; 21st February 2008 at 12:27 PM.
I'm talking about general funding for building campus facilities, paying staff salaries, etc. Public universities get state funding for these, private universities do not.
"An intelligent and creative person will confirm excel, if he didn't excel, it means that he is not really wise and smart enough. Wise persons will not be bounded by a system, but find ways to go beyond the system because his intelligence has superpassed the system."
You'll Never Walk Alone! - i have the best job in the world!
I have EXACTLY the same type of queries as you have posted here. Are you a math or science student/grad? I think those who are in such fields will appreciate it best.
It's funny. We always hear singapore is way ahead of our US counterparts in terms of math and also perhaps science. At college level (like our A levels), the US guys are still learning trigonometry which are already taught in our schools at sec 1 or 2. For us, at Sec 3, we are already into the cheem stuffs like differentiation and integration, or formally known as calculus. For Calculus, this word alone strikes fears in the US students! Strictly only if you are really into science then you will usually learn it at uni level in the US.
But like you, what puzzles me is that by the 2nd or 3rd year, the US students are picking up really advance stuffs in calculus and all that. While our common students here are struggling with the subject despite given the few years of headstart in the subject.
I can only come up with my own theory:
Although we learn calculus and all that at an earlier level, there is a repetition of it at the local uni level here. That's clearly a waste of time. I find that uni dons here don't really know much about what is happening in our O and A levels. In fact, many of them graduated from the US and use US published textbooks. So this gives the guys in the US unis to catch up with us, while we cover pretty much the same thing.
As for the brighter A level students here, they will usually get to do higher level stuffs in their first yr at the local unis. Or they make skip certain modules which are deemed easy for them. So this group of people won't feel the "waste time" factor so much.
Also, US unis tend to teach critical thinking better than our local unis. Where they dismantle stuffs to really learn what goes on, our students here are more concerned with wanting to know which chapters to study for the exam so that they can "concentrate" only on the relevant subjects. To score As if possible of course. But there's very little meaning or value in such a way of learning.
US education is more broad based also. They get to study a foreign language, math, literature, science, etc at high school and college level and only specialize much later. This gives them time to think about what they really want. They are also free to change speciality any time without much problem.
Here, it's crazy. You get streamed even in pri school! At sec level, you already must decide what you want to become. At such an age, how will you know? So it might end up that you will study something you do not naturally excel later at uni level. Just to get a cert? This fact is undisputable. I've heard and have friends and myself am living proof. How often have you heard students here taking up 2nd or 3rd degrees? It's so common. It's not only waste of time but money.
By comparison, those students in the US when they study science or whatever subject, they really are interested in it and their lecturers are very motivating (sadly, 80% of mine in a local uni here weren't!) This can push them far and pick up things better.
Well, I could share more but that's it for now. See if you agree or disagree or have more things to add on...
Its an unfair comparison
There are 300million people in the USA, and 4.5million in singapore, you only get to meet the smart people whom made it and is posted here to work.
So hence you'll think that our education system has some problem because we have alot of graduate which truely can study but cannot work, but thats because our population is small.
I am sure there are a lot of similar cases in US, I've met some people from the states personally whom are complete idiots, trust me they are more pain in the ass to work with then our civil servants.
Look at China, they have so many people, they short list the smart ones or the talented ones every year for studies and sports. The bad statistics are usually not displayed and overlooked.
Don't blame the education system, blame your parents for not bringing you up for the job.
frankly, your university education is as good as you and your peers make it. when i was doing my course in NUS, the majority of the students only want to get things over and done with, that was extremely unfair to the minority who want to get much more out of the classes. this isn't a problem unique to Singapore anyway, i see the same thing happening in Tokyo as well.
there are good universities in the US, there are not so good ones... NUS and NTU have to cover the population of Singapore whereas the Harvards, the Stanfords, and what have you, pick the best from the college going population of a much larger catchment (the US and the best of the global students)... obviously there is very little basis for comparison...
but saying that, there does seem to be a content teaching bias (or at least a content learning bias by the students) in local universities, rather than one where the process of learning, learning how to learn, is privileged... in this era where knowledge is fast moving and ever changing, knowing how to learn independently and continously is more important than just having all the facts at a certain point in time...
anyway, as some have already said, the comparison is an unfair one. there will always be those who compare the worst in Singapore with the best overseas. universities here in my opinion are indeed not the best in the world, but they aren't the worst either.