Bloomberg report calls out S’pore’s ‘don’t-get-a-degree-if-you-can’ hypocrisy

Will our leaders not give their own children a university education?

Belmont Lay | May 7, 2015 @ 12:29 pm


Singapore wants fewer degree holders, that much is clear. We have even gone to the extent of getting a Straits Times reporter to convince its readers a degree is not needed to be good at reporting the news for the only English broadsheet.

And it is true: You don’t need a degree if you’re capable. You need a degree if you are joining the civil service.

Jokes aside, Bloomberg published an article on May 4, 2015, by Sharon Chen on how Singapore is trying to put a lid on the number of degree holders bubbling over from universities of all shades, while trying to ape Germany’s apprenticeship system where the focus is on building skills.

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The report then starts making blatant references to Singapore’s elite who have nothing but the best degrees from the most prestigious universities.

The narrative is simple: Draw attention to the fact that Singapore’s ministers and their ilk all have elite education opportunities that they — for the life of them — wouldn’t turn down, so why should the hoi polloi if given the opportunity to further their studies and a better shot in life?

From Bloomberg:

Persuading Singaporeans to go down the same route will be an uphill task after decades of extolling the importance of education. Singapore households spent S$1.1 billion on tutors outside school in the year ended September 2013, according to the most-recent survey by the statistics department.

Every member of the cabinet has a degree, and the civil service continues to offer students full scholarships to top colleges overseas as a form of recruitment.

Two of Lee’s sons went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while his deputies Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean have sons who went to Cambridge University in England and Brown University in Rhode Island on government scholarships.

Therefore, the message is clear: If Singaporeans can afford not to have degrees, so can its leaders and their offspring.



Correction (May 8, 2015): The first sentence has been amended. The word “less” has been removed and replaced with “fewer”. Thanks to poet Gwee Li Sui for his grammar policing.


Related articles:

Straits Times tries to convince S’poreans they don’t need a degree to become a reporter

S’pore wants fewer university degree holders. Here are the media reports trying to convince you.

NUS actually tried the ‘degrees don’t matter’ route, hired assistant professor in 2005 who didn’t have PhD


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About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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