Friday, August 31, 2007

Term 3 week 10 Task 4

Upgrading Education – levelling up society [ National Day Rally 2007 ] The Prime Minister put forth several ideas and plans regarding education in his National Day Rally. How realistic do you find these plans and to what extent are they important to the future of Singapore?

In his national rally for this year, our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has put forth several ideas and plans regarding education in Singapore. Firstly, freedom to be given to principals and teachers to allow them to try out new ideas for teaching. Secondly, resources for schools with good ideas, so that they will succeed with the government’s help. Thirdly, provide opportunities for needy students through the Opportunity Funds. And lastly, adopt the “more learning, less teaching” scheme. Mr Lee also mentioned about the need to expand our intakes for universities to prevent the outflow of talents to other countries or if there’s a need to build a fourth publicly-funded university. I think that to teach less and learn more is one way to form a pool of critical thinkers. I welcome the idea of building a fourth publicly-funded university and think that it is the best solution to the growing demands for a degree - if only it is not to be done heedlessly and willy nilly in all aspects. However, the plan to introduce the “third language special programme” in secondary schools is not effective. This is reflected from the ineffectiveness of our bilingual policy here.

The main aim of the “learn more, teach less” scheme is to develop our students into critical thinking and innovative young leaders. In the past, students were confined to classrooms where they listened and absorbed whatever the teacher taught in classes. They were given very little time and opportunities to voice out their own opinions and let alone be there group discussions. In this modern society, the world is ever challenging, what could really make us shine from the norm is to acquire a critical mindset and be creative and innovative. The world where we reside in is ever changing; new technology is evolving every second. By staying inert and exam-smart will only let us see the world disappearing before our very own eyes. We will then have nothing to compete with all the talents out there. On the other hand, if schools were to teach less and students to learn more - not through books but critical problems – we would be able to lead the others from the world wide. This does not only help the individual to achieve what he or she is capable of but also help in boosting the economic growth of our country. Thus, the idea reinforced by Mr Lee is feasible and of a paramount importance to Singapore’s future.

Next, PM Lee also mentioned about the need to build a fourth publicly-funded university to accommodate the growing number of students entering universities. The high standard of living in Singapore has permitted many of us to receive a better education and continue to upgrade ourselves. It was prestigious achieving a degree in the past but not in the 21st century today. In the world today, degree holders are omnipresent. The students going to universities are on the increase via all routes. However, due to the limited vacancies here, many go abroad to further their studies. Like what Mr Lee said, Out of those who went, few returned to contribute to our society. This is bad for our own growth as it means there is actually a pool of talents being attracted to help foreign countries in their development. If this continues to take its way, our own economy would be crippled. Hence, to retain the group of professionals in Singapore, we should open the door of universities to them. For instance, the number of students going to universities from polytechnics is experiencing an exponential increase – 15 percent. Since the demand for a vacancy in the university is high, I do see an urgent need in building a fourth university to cater to the needs of our people. By building a fourth publicly-funded university here, each year 2400 more talents would be appreciated and their knowledge would be tackled for the benefit of the country. However, this should not be done heedlessly and willy nilly. Mr Lee said in his rally, that “some countries have produced large numbers of graduates without regard for either the quality or the employment opportunities. Lots of universities, some of them paper printing machines and so, they face big problems -- graduates unemployed or under-employed.” He added, “It’s better not to have graduated but to have a good job than to have graduated with a skill which is not useful and then you spend your time feeling unhappy.” Yes, it is true that in Taiwan, only as low as 6 out of 100 mark is qualified for entry into a university. This means that very few students will appreciate the place they have taken up and do not put in effort in their studies. This causes social problems listed above. However, in the context of Singapore, building another university is solely to cater to the real needs of our people. As such, lesser such problems would be encountered. Thus, for the sake of our students and the need to improve our economic growth, we should build a fourth university here.

Lastly, our sophisticated education system and our bilingual policy are well recognized in the world. However, many Singaporeans are apathy towards the bilingual policy and are still suffering with their Mother Tongue. Many students find it hard to learn two languages at one time. The result is either they suffer one at the expense of another or they do poorly in both, it is very sad to add on that, very few are strong in both. Since they cannot even juggle both languages, introducing a third language will only show a negative side of the idea. This plan, to a very great possibility, will not turn workable. Hence, I think that the government should not work on this plan though it may be helpful for the future of Singapore. However, if none is able to perform well in two languages, how are we going to expect them to be trilingual?

In conclusion, plan like the introducing of the “learn more teach less” scheme is welcoming since it has shown a remarkable feasibility in both Jurong Secondary School and Mayflower Primary. In both cases, students are able to think out of the box and are innovative in their way of learning. Also, the building of another university here should be encouraged since this helps to retain talents in Singapore and minimized the educational wastages. It also means more of the students’ knowledge and skills will be made use of to accelerate the development of our country. So, why not? However, the idea of introducing the special programme is not practical since we are sure that very few of us is to be benefited from the policy. It also won’t be much of a help for our future.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Term 3 Week 9 Task 4

Commentary on blog winner: Giving Birth to Your Sister - Right or Wrong? - Jeremy Su
Source from :

The article was first published in Straits Times on 11 July 2007. It is about a 35 year old Canadian mother who has decided to freeze her eggs so that her seven year old daughter, Flavie, who suffers from Turner's syndrome, can one day be a mother through pregnancy.

7 year-old Flavie is suffering from the rare Turner’s syndrome which is a genetic disorder that affects a girl's development. The cause is a missing or incomplete X chromosome. Girls who have it are short, and their ovaries don't work properly – mostly infertile. Put it simply, they are not able to conceive and have children naturally. In concern about it, Ms Melanie Biovin, has decided to freeze her eggs as to give her daughter a chance in becoming a mother one day.

This, like what Jeremy Su has mentioned in his blog entry, brings about many ethical questions on motherhood and parenting. For example, would the child be considered as Flavie's daughter (or son) or her sibling? Biologically speaking, they should be siblings since they both come from the same woman’s eggs. However, when one gives birth to one's sibling, psychologically the relationship is mixed. I think that it will be an awkward situation for both Flavie and her “child” in the future. There would be no perfect answer to whether is the child her sibling or her child? It would be difficult to identify their true relationship.

In years to come, problems may also occur during parenting. What do you think the child will respond if he or she were to know that her mother is actually his or her sibling? When this happens, parenting would be hard for Flavie. For instance, her child may regard Flavie as his or her sibling rather than mother. Respect for the mum would lessen. The child will then tend not to be as obedient and think that Flavie has no right in controlling him or her. This will seriously mess up the family and rapture their bonds.

In addition, this would be a laughing stock when the child’s genetic mum becomes his or her grandma while the sister becomes the mother. What is the world becoming? It is, by and large, unethical. I know that there’s no ill intention for Ms Melanie Biovin to do this, her love and care for her daughter is noble and honourable. However, I think that she has expressed it in a wrong way. Personally, I think this would bring about inevitable problems between her daughter and the future child. This totally defeats the purpose of her act. Worst still, Flavie may even grow up hating her mum’s decision.

Frankly speaking, a woman is not categorized by whether is she able to bear a child. Thus, I think that Falvie should just accept the fact that she is unable to conceive and that there are many ways to shower her love for children apart from having her own.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Term 3 Week 8 Task 4

Can poverty ever be eradicated?
Write a response of at least 300 words and 2 content paragraphs, and include materials from both articles as well as your own knowledge and experience.

Affluence creates poverty. The world is unbalance, there are about a billion people in the world who don't have reliable access to drinking water or enough food and health care; at least another two billion people live in slums or rural areas and have the basic means of life, but almost nothing beyond that; many certainly meet their basic needs, but are not part of mainstream society - they can't participate in cultural or educational life, and have little job security. Despites that, I think that poverty can ultimately be eradicated if the rich countries are willing to lend a helping hand to the poor ones.

Like what Eli Khamarov, says, “ Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit.” We cannot blame the poor nations for being poor; they themselves do not ask for it too. We should and ought to help them out of poverty by giving humanitarian aids. Since Gandhi had said, “To a man with empty stomach food is God”, we can help the destitute by providing food and clothes for them. If everyone cares to spare a thought for them and help by donation or by voluntary work, poor countries will be able to tackle on the help they receive and work on to improve their standard of living. If this is achieved, poor countries will be soon out of poverty, if not, for a betterment.

Kamala Sarup mentioned in the commentary that, “Geography is important in determining whether a country has any prospects of becoming richer.” I beg to defer. A nation does not depend solely on its geographical location for its wealth status. Take for example, Switzerland has too many mountains and too few navigable waterways but is rich; Singapore does not sit above any precious natural resource but is considered a rich developed country too. I think that for a country to be rich, it must first have a pool of robust citizens who are willing to work for their own benefit. If the people are blessed with natural resources but are not hardworking, they may abuse the usage of the resources and find them to be depleted one day. On contrary, if a country has a pool of diligent workers working for its economy to increase its per capita incomes, the nation would be able to climb out of poverty. Since no man would like to be poor, I am sure they would be motivated to work hard if the rich countries are willing to lend them the “seed money” for them to start the fundamental development. If this were to be done, poorer countries would then be able to boost their economy and become rich, if not, merely out of poverty. Thus, I believe that problem of poverty can be solved one day.

Furthermore, Kristina Tom has suggested ways of improving the poor people’s lives. You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money as there are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread. But, not only do we can donate food to them, daily materials like clothes and mosquito nets would be enough to save many lives. In nations where malaria has been a pandemic, like in Africa, a mosquito net would be essential to keep the destitute from diagnosing with the fatal malaria. Financial markets and businesses are not going to solve poverty on their own. If the public understands that the poor are poor because they're afflicted with diseases, drought and environmental difficulties that they can't face on their own, then people are much more ready to support the things that will make a difference. Hence, poverty would be removed with the warmth help from the people around the world.

"From the moment you wake up to the time you turn in today, 20,000 people would have died of hunger," says American thinker Jeffrey Sachs. “And at least 20,000 more will die tomorrow, and the day after, and in the days after that - just because they are poor.” To solve the problems resulted from poverty, the United Nations has been working very hard in the Millennium Project which makes it possible for people to donate US$6 for a mosquito net that will be sent directly to Africa. Such citizens' involvement may provoke our politicians to act. One day they may be ready to stand up and contribute more tax revenues' so that there's big money available to really make this fight. This, I firmly believe, would eradicate poverty sooner or later.

In conclusion, we must treat the world as our nucleus family where different nations are different families and the people are cousins. We must help one another whenever there is a problem. By donating money alone is not enough, we must give humanitarian and health aids. Every man has a right to be poor. If everyone does a little to help the poor countries, we will see a big difference in someone else’s live – climb out of poverty. Thus, I find it possible and hopeful for poor countries to become richer, but it is a mater of time.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Term 3 Week 6 Task 4

Woman Candidate Favored in Upcoming Election
Source from:

Pratibha Patil, the newly elected president of India has proved to the world that women, too, have the ability to be the dominating leaders above all. In July, the lawyer has won the election and becomes the first female president in the history of India. This reveals the change in mindset of people about women and their roles in today’s society.

In the past, it is almost impossible for a traditional country to be ruled by a female nominee as the female leaders were seen less powerful and did not acquire the necessary qualities as men. However, this statement is proven as over-generalizing as in this case, the female candidate, Pratibha Patil, was in favored during Indian presidential election.

Women in this modern society do not only take the roles of housewives but also many other aspects in political and excel in their own career. As women get educated, the idea that they are to remain in the home is atavistic. Women possess knowledge that is almost equal to or higher than that of men, thus, they are as deserving of a job as men do. Since women can contribute to the society, we should not waste their talents and expertise. This not only boosts the economic of a country but also improve the financial problem of the individual. There are also many examples to note of successful female professionals in the world. One example would be the founder of the 77th street fashion retail stores in Singapore – Miss Elim Chew. The business prospered and now, under her management, there are 14 outlets island wide and some in UK and China.

Furthermore, as the world undergoes globalization, more job opportunities are created and the obligations of the government and companies to attract female workers have caused an influx of women entering the work force. Some women join the workforce seeking extra income to aid the sole breadwinner of the family, to provide financial support for their loved ones. For a single woman to think like the man is a cultivated trait and it takes a bit of training. For instance, women, unlike men, buy things not only for themselves but also the children, husband and her parents. This depicts that both male and females think and act differently. Both have different abilities. Obviously, it shows that, women should be encouraged to take up a job.

To sum up, a woman should not be regarded as the lower class of the citizens. Like the article mentions, it is a waste of their talents not to explore the outside world. Women being more outstanding in certain aspects are expecting to ace. They are at times better than men and are more detailed and responsible so they should display these values and contribute to the society. Also, by allowing females to step out of their kitchen, we can taste the benefits and expertise of the women.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Term 3 Week 5 Task 4

Embracing Otherhood - [ST 17122005]- What do you think are some of the challenges facing Singapore as the country plays host to more people from different backgrounds and cultures?

Being in a state of high living standard and social stability, Singapore has attracted many visitors who are speaking different tongues and have different beliefs here in the past few decades. This flock of people from all around the world coming to Singapore is on the increase. Some of us welcome them with warmth opening arms; others are mean-spirited towards their presence in our country. However, what exactly are the challenges faced by Singapore as we host to more people from different backgrounds and cultures?

First and the foremost, the local may be unwilling to accept our guests wholeheartedly. Many locals are grumbling for being substituted by foreigners who show greater ability in their work force. Some of them are reported as being hostile towards the foreign maids and construction workers here. For instance, as raised in the article, the death of the illegal Myanmar worker, Maung Soe Thein. Mr Chua, the local employer of Maung not only did not save him but also, rejected to provide him a proper burial. As mentioned in the article, this tragedy did not cause an outrage ripple from the public, it shows clearly that, Singaporeans at this stage are not giving our fellow foreign friends (or to be precise, guests) enough care and attention. In the past, continual cases of maids being tortured by their employers were surfaced. The number of maids being bullied and ill-treated is still a social problem in our society today. The question is: exactly how many of us did show our compassionate towards these lowbrow cases?

As the growth of our birth rate here is not promising, we need the talents to help boost our economic growth. As a result, we must learn to accept them and not think that they are here to compete with us with our resources and job opportunities.

In recruiting foreigners, including professionals and people who take the blue-collar jobs, many problems flow in. The most common example would be the stereotypical view about the Chinese "Study Mama" here. They are being labelled as “prostitutes” who aim to rupture couple’s relationship and prey on the men for their money. However, this is a sweeping statement as not all China women here are behaving in the same way as the black sheep of China are doing. We must be grateful for those who are contributing to our country’s development especially in the case of low paying blue-collar jobs. They are the ones building nice and cozy flats where we are sheltered from rain and shine. If we do not welcome their arrival, who will be there to build our homes, to take care of our household chores and to bring Singapore’s economic growth to a greater height?

To conclude, we must learn to be compassionate and less prejudiced; not judge these foreigners by their skin colours, their different language and their cultural practices. Only if both parties tolerant and do their part to understand and appreciate each other will we have a peaceful and harmonic society to reside in. Let’s start to help ourselves by accepting the immigrants to join our big family.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Term 3 Week 4 Task 4

World in a balance - [Channel News Asia 15072007] - In your view, what are the likely political and socio-economic impacts of the demographic changes we see in the world today? Write a response of at least 300 words and 2 content paragraphs, and include materials from the video “World in the Balance” as well as your own knowledge and experience.

In the past few decades, large families were the norm especially in poorer countries where manpower was needed extensively. However, as the world shifts to technological advancement, the standard of living improves and nuclear families are preferred. In many countries, ways of controlling the birth rate evolved everyday. China, the world’s most populous country, has implemented the one-child policy to curb the increase in birth rate. However, in Singapore, incentives are given to encourage births. The change in world’s demography affects the world as a whole and individual country – both negatively and positively.

Firstly, let’s look at the negative impacts of the change in demography. As there is a decrease in the world’s population, more countries would face the problem of ageing population and thus results in a less robust workforce. A less productive workforce equates a stagnant economy. This also implies that there may be an economic downturn in the country and ultimately affects all other countries since all countries depend on one another for trades. For example, in Japan, women are declaring their independence from marriage and motherhood to pursue professional careers. This rapid decrease in population decays the country’s economic productivity. As the decrease in population brings about unbearable economic disadvantages, some countries begin to encourage more births. For instance, Singapore, with population that forms an inverted pyramid, has yet to meet the replacement rate of 2.1. Incentives and bonuses are given to attract people to give more births.

Politically, less young leaders would be there to rule the country and thus, may lead to the collision of a government. Furthermore, when a country faces ageing population, more healthcare and public facilities are to be given. This strained on the country’s resources which would otherwise be used for its development. Therefore, the country may be deprived of further development and unable to keep up with the world’s growing competitiveness. At the same time, the high living standard allows people to have a much longer lifespan. This means that more old people are needed to be supported by the decreasing young population. Hence, the young people would then have to be taxed more heavily to support the old ones. As a result, people may be unhappy with the government and this is where emigration comes in. The change in demography in this case, disadvantages the country and the world adversely.

Alternatively, by looking at a more positive perspective, the change in the demography can be beneficial both to the affected country and the world. China, the world most populous country, has taken the initiative to bend large families. The stop-at-one one-child policy is an effective one for the fact that it helps to reduce the population by more than one million. This lessens the world’s load exponentially. As a result, resources can now be channelled more to other parts in the world to solve social problems like poverty and famine. This transforms the earth for betterment.

However, we must also not forget, this implementation often accompanied by a vast array of illegal and unethical activities. In China, the implementation of the one-child policy has caused a growing number of female infanticides. As males are more sought after, due to the fact that they carry on the family surname, parents of female infants often kill their baby girls so they can try again to get a baby boy. This posts problems like infant smuggling and illegal adoption. There would also be more male working adults than female ones, causing a largely imbalanced pyramid.

In conclusion, the change in world’s demography may not necessarily a bad one for it brings the redistribution of resources among countries. However, many more negative impacts surfaced. For instance, the growth in emigrations, high taxes on the working adults, stagnant economy and infanticides. Since the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, more should be done to curb this demography change from further deteriorating.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Term 3 Week 3 Task 4

Does It Pay to Combine Work with Studies? source from:

It is not surprised to hear of any student nowadays working as part timer while schooling. In fact, many think that they should be independent and not ask money from their parents any more.

Many do have the working experience, either from part time jobs or full time ones. Some may take up a part time job during their long year end holiday because they have nothing better to do. They find working during the school holidays much more meaningful than sitting in front of the television set everyday. In addition, they get to taste the life of working adults and thus, gain valuable experiences. Not only have that, by working as part timers, the students themselves get a chance to earn their own pocket money. Some students work while schooling because of their humble family backgrounds. Students from such families have no choice but to work and study simultaneously. Others may think that they are old enough to be financially independent. They do not want to ask money from their parents any more. They think that by working as part timer, they can earn their own allowance and reduce the burden of their parents. However, some people work during study years simply because they want to have the experience which may be helpful for their future. In this ever challenging world, one will only get a good job (after graduation) when she or he has the required related working experience. For instance, reported years ago in Singapore, the daughter of a local big company’s director worked as part time waitress in MacDonald as told by her rich father. The main aim, explained by her dad, was to let her then 14 year-old daughter to gain the necessary experience of earning her own money.

However, does it pay to combine work and study?

In a survey, many working students complained about the lack of sleep due to school work and the part time work they take. These students always end up dozing off during lectures and classes. They also said that they did not perform to the best of their abilities for their examinations. Others said that by taking up a part time job, they have very little time for their school work; let alone be there for hobbies and families. As a result, many students are losing their role as a student – play and study. They get no leisure time and not being sociable in school. Gaps between their friends and themselves widened. They also said that their part time job is not related to the subjects they are studying. Thus, not of much help in their studies.

On the other hand, some find working and studying help them in one way or another. For instance, a student who gives tuition to someone may gain some knowledge in the process. You teach while you earn – not only money but knowledge and experience. Why not then? Some people think that by working, they are better in time management. They can now treasure time better and making their every second more meaningful. What is more, there were a few, who told the questionnaires that now, having a job; they feel better because of more independence. And there were several who mentioned that one more benefit is the ability to meet other people, they find themselves being more sociable in the working force. Only one student asserted that he gets better skills in the field of his studies.

In conclusion, full time students are able to study and work at the same time. Most of them have a part time job, and only some - a full time. And those who do not work are, for the most part, willing to. And it can be seen that students look realistically to the combination of working and studying simultaneously. They have no dreams of such co-ordination being easy and effortless. I think that students work as part timers during school periods is not advisable. As a student, our job is to study and not to work. By working and studying together, we will sure lose the precious time we have for revision and homework. I think that students who intend to work as part timers better to do so only during their school vocations.