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At independence, we needed to make sure Singapore would be a place of peace, prosperity and more importantly, a home (nation). b. In order to achieve this main goal, there were four separate goals/strategies: c. The goal/strategy was to provide every child with an education. i. Schools would be the place where Singaporeans would be educated for a variety of reasons e.g. jobs ii. Without adequate schools, these goals would have been difficult to achieve. iii. Hence more schools were built. The number of schools expanded from 222 in 1967 to 267 in 1967. iv. This would meet the demand from a rapidly growing population and help Singapore do the next 3 goals. d. The 2nd goal was to build national loyalty. i. In the 1960s, parents tended to send to their children to schools that taught in their mother tongue e.g. Chinese schools. ii. They continued to identify with their language groups and even the countries they originated from. iii. This meant young Singaporeans would rarely have a chance to interact with each other and would continue to see themselves as separate peoples, not one nation. iv. To deal with this problem, common practices such as daily flag raising and pledge-taking ceremony were introduced in all schools. v. This aimed at building a sense of national identity for all races even though they were separated in different schools. vi. This practice is still carried out today for the same reason – building national identity and loyalty. e. The 3rd goal was to foster social cohesion. i. In order for the different races to feel they are all one people (one nation), various schemes were put in place to help different Singaporeans share a common experience/interact. ii. Firstly, the government showed that it was fair to all races. It did this by providing free textbooks for needy students. iii. It also made everyone go through a common exam such as the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations). iv. In 1960, integrated schools that put 2 language streams together (English and Chinese) was introduced to encourage more interaction v. In 1966, bilingualism was also introduced to all pupils in secondary 1. This emphasized the importance of mother tongue as a language. vi. It also helped to impart moral and cultural values. vii. English became the link language among all races – this helped Singaporeans interact with each other. viii. ECAs (Extra-Curricular Activities) such as NPCC and NCC also allowed different races to interact in common activites. ix. All the above helped to foster social cohesion among young Singaporeans. f. The forth goal was to prepare for a new economy/economic development.
i. The serious unemployment in the 60s meant Singapore had to industrialise to survive. ii. To industrialise meant that workers/future workers needed to be equipped with technical skills to work in factories. iii. This was done through technical education for all boys and 50% of the girls in lower secondary. iv. Vocational institutes and polytechnics were set up and expanded to meet the needs of the changing economy. v. And by the 1970s, more parents were sending their children to English medium schools – English was an important language to learn Western knowledge and new technologies -> this was where the jobs are. g. Therefore education was a means to help shape the country in various ways, be it a sense of national loyalty, social cohesion or getting students ready for the new economy. 2. What did education policies focus on in the 1970s - 90s? a. The goals of the 1960s were continued into the 1970s. But there was a need to improve on those policies because students were still not bilingual and many students continued to drop out of school. If students left school early, it would be difficult to achieve goals such as fostering social cohesion or preparing for a new economy. b. The first change was the introduction of streaming. i. The main idea was to allow each child to learn at his/her own pace. ii. Based on their primary 3 performance, students were streamed into 3 streams, the normal bilingual, extended bilingual and monolingual. iii. The normal and extended student will eventually move on to secondary schools after they complete their PSLE, while the monolingual student will complete the Primary School Proficiency Examination (PSPE) and move on to vocational institutes to learn practical hands-on technical skills. iv. Streaming was also continued on in secondary school where there was the special/express stream (4 years of secondary education), and normal stream (5 years). v. The gifted education programme was also introduced in 1984 for those exceptionally bright students who needed more challenge than the usual educational syllabus could offer. vi. By the 1990s, streaming was further improved. This included postponing streaming to primary 4 and making all students do the PSLE. vii. Secondary streaming was also changed to include the normal (technical) stream that gave the less academically abled students who were better hands-on, a technically oriented education. They would then move on to ITE where they would learn useful skills for employment. viii. Thus streaming was meant to cater to the different learning needs of students. By doing so, we can cut down on educational wastage due to drop-outs. We can continue to pursue the basic goals set in the 1960s. And we can maximize the ability of our only resource – Humans.
c. The second change was to introduce moral education. i. Other than making sure every citizen was prepared for employment, schools needed to educate students in life-long skills and social responsibility. ii. Thus moral education was introduced in 1981 to ensure that desirable moral values were imparted to students to make them responsible and loyal citizens. iii. Religious knowledge was also introduced in 1982 to reinforce values taught in moral education. Students were given a choice of religion to study in. iv. But parents eventually objected to the syllabus as they contended it was encouraging students to convert to other religions. v. This was replaced with the Civics and Moral Education which emphasized what it means to be a Singaporean and how different cultures in Singapore have shared values that brings us together as a nation. vi. Through exposure in the moral education programme, Singaporeans would develop a national identity, be respectful and responsible to everyone and help shape attitudes that would continue Singapore’s development. rd d. The 3 change was to encourage creativity. i. This policy came directly as a consequence of the 1985 recession in Singapore that made many jobless. Singaporeans were generally too expensive to hire yet were not providing much valueadded quality products. ii. To improve this, schools needed to produce more creative students with better skills and ideas to overcome this economic challenge. iii. Because of this, principals were given more freedom in proposing changes that would improve their students’ learning needs and abilities. Teachers were also challenged to be more innovative in their teaching. iv. Established schools e.g. Raffles Institution or Anglo-Chinese School became independent schools where they could recruit their own teachers and offer subjects and courses not normally available in schools e.g. joint research programmes with NUS or offer ballet as a CCA. v. Schools who had done well consistently were also given the opportunity to become autonomous schools where they were given more freedom and money to develop more challenging programmes for their children. vi. The goal was to stretch principals, teachers and students to produce more creative Singaporeans who would give us that extra economic edge. This would help us overcome our economic limitations. 3. What did education policies focus on from the 1990s onwards (meeting the 21st century challenge)? a. By the late 1990s, economic competition was getting very intense. Information technology became common place, making knowledge obsolete very quickly. It became impossible to teach students everything they needed to know. Our educational focus now shifted to giving students important brain skills that would help them survive in a rapidly changing world. 3
b. We now needed to equip students with critical and creative thinking skills. i. First students are taught how to acquire (get) information and gather what they need from the vast amount of information available now. ii. Students are then given opportunities to analyse problems and find solutions independently. iii. This was done through activities such as project work where skills like teamwork were introduced. Coursework such as Design & Technology also helped create students who were more independent learners. iv. Examinations requiring more critical thought (think source-based questions in SS) were also introduced to challenge students thinking. c. With the widespread use of computers globally, students were also taught information technology. i. Students are now given work on computers for some of their projects either to surf and search for information. ii. Students are also tasked with creating a final product such as a powerpoint presentation or an animated show. iii. Teachers are also pushed to incorporate use of technology to make their lessons more interactive and interesting. iv. Schools are also challenged to use technology such as websites to become more efficient. v. In all, the idea is to give students more opportunities to learn and use technology to become better able to handle a technology driven world. d. We also realized that there are many talents that were not developed in our school system. Thus the challenge now was to develop talents. i. Schools in general now offer a variety of opportunities for every child to explore non-academic goals e.g. cultural dances, singing competitions, drama and art courses. ii. Elective programmes for Art, Music, Theater and Drama, and the foreign languages were also introduced to help those with talents in these areas to develop their abilities. iii. Specialised schools such as the Singapore Sports School were also set up to cater to students who are gifted in sports iv. With all the above, Singapore can maximize the potential of every child by giving them opportunities to develop their special interest or gifts. v. This would help Singapore become a more vibrant society with so much more to offer her people and the world. e. But the need to make sure Singaporeans remained one people who lived harmoniously and are committed to Singapore remains a key concern. Because of this, National Education was introduced. i. To build social cohesion, events such as Racial Harmony Day and Total Defence Day are celebrated to remind students that we need to continue to have strong bonds and work together to succeed. ii. NE is also introduced in lessons to teach responsibility and commitment to family, community and country. iii. CIP was also introduced to help cultivate good citizens who are responsible to society and country e.g. taking care of senior citizens and cleaning up the environment.
iv. All the above aims to create a nation who would stand up to challenges of the future. v. This was recently tested when Singaporeans worked together to contain the SARS epidemic. Thus National Education is important. Ultimately, all that we want to achieve in education cannot happen if children are not enrolled in schools or drop out too early. Because of this compulsory education was introduced. i. Since 2003, every child must go through at least 6 years of education. ii. While they are in school, educational goals such as building national loyalty or skills like critical thinking can be imparted to students. iii. It is also an opportunity for children from all backgrounds to mingle and learn to get along with each other. iv. All the above would help us foster a stronger sense of national identity + social cohesion.
Switzerland 1. What is the educational system like in Switzerland? a. There are some similarities and differences between Singapore and Switzerland’s educational system. i. Unlike Singapore where the Ministry of Education controls all the schools up to the university, in Switzerland, the cantonal government (canton – an area in the country e.g. Jurong West or the state of Johor) is the one that controls the schools. This means each canton would have different programmes for their schools depending on what the people there want. ii. But some things are fixed. For example, in all cantons, primary and secondary education is compulsory – total 9 years. (Singapore – only primary school is compulsory). iii. The Federal government (government for the whole country) however does make sure that university examinations are of a certain standard. iv. It also ensures that education in the country is geared towards business and industry needs (making sure it is what employers want). v. The Federal Government also controls the examinations for vocational training (skills e.g. ITE style education in Singapore). vi. All the above helps to maintain an educational system that is relevant (useful) to the economy (jobs). 2. Discuss the importance of vocational training in Switzerland’s success. a. Vocational training is a very important reason for Switzerland’s success. Only 3 out of 10 students would go on to higher learning such as the university. Thus the bulk of workers in Switzerland were trained through vocational institutes. b. Vocational institutes emphasize practical, job-related skills that are being used in companies. Students are trained in these areas so that they become competent in practices related to their workplaces even before they graduate. c. This form of training is also known as apprenticeship. d. Apprenticeships are available in over 400 different types of professions and crafts. They include jobs in banking (services), engineering, food and
nutrition (manufacturing), hospitality management (tourism), pharmaceuticals and quality craftsmanship products e.g. watches. e. This provides Switzerland with a ready pool of trained professionals who know their jobs well and help value-add. f. Graduates from these institutes can also go on to study in the technical colleges or universities. g. Therefore, vocational institutes are the backbone of the Swiss economic success. They provide practical, relevant industry training for students who would eventually help make Swiss products and service well-known for the high quality and value-addedness in both manufacturing and the services industry. 3. What other goals does the Swiss educational system have other than just preparing their people for jobs? a. Both Switzerland and Singapore share similar concerns about using education to achieve economic (jobs) and non-economic goals. b. Swiss schools prepare students for their responsibilities as citizens i. Swiss system of direct democracy means everyone gets to vote on issues ranging from national issues such as national service (army) or smaller concerns like what to teach in schools. ii. Everyone 18 years and above gets to vote. iii. To prepare students for real life, schools practice direct democracy even among the younger children to help them learn how to vote responsibly. iv. For example, teachers and students were given a vote to actually decide how much time was given to Arts education in a school. v. This helps students learn the Swiss way of life. c. Swiss schools practice a Bilingual policy. i. Switzerland is made up of 4 different groups, the Germanspeaking, the French-speaking, the Italian-speaking, and the Romansh. ii. All students learn English as the international language. Like Singapore, English is also the link between the different groups as well as to other countries. iii. Students are then required to learn their mother tongue e.g. Germans learn German language. iv. They are also required to learn a 2nd national language e.g. Germans also learn French. This is to help everyone understand each other better. v. Thus, not unlike Singapore, this language policy is used to build social cohesion and create a national identity that is unique to Switzerland. d. Swiss also emphasis social education i. Because each canton is a different language/culture, Swiss schools make an effort to teach local history, traditions, cultures etc. ii. This is done to instill pride in being e.g. a German in a German canton. iii. At the same time, this also helps to make all Swiss proud of their country as Switzerland is well known for her peace and harmony among the different language groups. It builds a special national Swiss identity known as willensnation – or “a nation by will”. iv. Students also build very strong bonds with the school and their communities through various activities such as sports, school outings, project work and community service (something like CIP). 6
v. All the above helps to build social cohesion, national identity and loyalty – create a sense of belonging. Health Care in Singapore 1. How did Singapore tackle the healthcare issues? a. Just like education policies, the government took a step-by-step approach in constructing the health care infrastructure. b. Healthcare is important because we need healthy, robust and productive people in the workforce. c. Thus there needs to be a system to make sure everyone’s healthcare is well looked after. i. The focus in the Healthcare in the 1960s was to provide basic healthcare services. ii. This meant setting up more hospitals, clinics and outpatient dispensaries. iii. Moreover, the government also started island-wide inoculations against diseases such as tuberculosis and small pox. iv. Medical officers and nurses were also sent to schools to do health checks. v. All the above helped to tackle the medical needs of the population at that time by providing basic medical needs as well as screening. vi. But good health is also dependent on a good environment. vii. This was a problem as there were many overcrowded and unsanitary squatters and slums where diseases could spread rapidly. viii. This was not helped by the Singaporean habit of indiscriminate littering. ix. Industrialisation also brought about pollution issues. x. Thus to create a cleaner environment, the government enacted stringent laws to control pollution. xi. They also started a mass public housing programme to deal with the housing issue (see 4-3 notes). xii. Finally, cleanliness needed to be a way of life. Thus, public campaigns such as the “Keep Singapore Clean” campaigns were introduced in the 1960s xiii. Through the above means, Singapore adopted a prevention and cure method to deal with Singapore’s healthcare needs. d. The focus in the 1970s shifted to improving Healthcare: i. With a better economy, people were now more affluent and educated, hence they could afford and demanded better healthcare. ii. Outpatient dispensaries were replaced with the polyclinics where they would provide outpatient medical care, maternal and child healthcare facilities. iii. These polyclinics were built in convenient locations in town centres all over Singapore. iv. Facilities in government hospitals were also improved. For example, the Singapore General Hospital established the Plastic and Reconstruction Department in 1972. e. By the 1980s, healthcare shifted to dealing with new concerns: i. Due to better technology, equipment and better trained healthcare workers; cost of healthcare has been climbing.
ii. The government used to give generous subsidies to help make medical care cheaper for the people. But rising healthcare cost has made it difficult to continue subsidies. The government would have to increase taxes to maintain the higher subsidies. iii. The solution was to work on self-reliance, to have Singaporeans be responsible for their own healthcare. iv. The government implemented 2 schemes to help people pay their own medical expenses. The Medisave scheme which aims to help people save a portion of their CPF contributions for hospitalization fees incurred by themselves or family members; v. and the Medishield scheme which is an insurance paid through Medisave to help pay for the balance of large hospitalization bills normally incurred through serious illnesses or medical procedures. vi. However, the Medishield will only pay up to a certain limit, while the rest must be paid up by the individual and their family members. Thus self reliance is maintained. vii. The government also needed to help those who could not help themselves e.g. lower income group. viii. Recognising the limitations of the lower income, the government would continue to heavily subsidise their healthcare needs up to about 80% of the bill in class “C” wards. ix. The remaining amount however would still need to be paid by their Medisave and Medishield. x. This would ensure every Singaporeans regardless of income levels would have access to affordable healthcare. xi. At the same time, it would continue the principle of self-reliance. xii. However, for Singaporeans who still find difficulty after these subsidies and have inadequate Medisave and Medishield, the government introduced the Medifund scheme in 1993. xiii. Patients would need to apply for this fund at the hospitals where they seek treatment (financial assistance). xiv. The elderly population is also not neglected. xv. Through the “many hands” approach, elderly Singaporeans are helped by the above subsidies, Medisave and Medishield schemes. xvi. As part of this approach, they are also helped by community hospitals, nursing homes, day rehabilitation and day care centres, all of which provide the elderly specialized geriatric care. xvii. The government also provides grants to many of these voluntary welfare organizations to help senior citizens. xviii. In this way, no Singaporean will be left behind in medical care, yet at the same time, self-reliance is also practiced. xix. Eventually, prevention is better than cure. The best way to reduce medical cost to an individual is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. xx. By promoting good health habits, it would help Singaporeans reduce the need for medical care. xxi. Regular exercise and healthy eating is constantly promoted through health education. xxii. Excessive habits such as smoking and drinking are discouraged through campaigns against smoking and laws e.g. age limits for the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol. xxiii. Singaporeans, especially the adults are reminded to go for regular healthcare checks for detection of diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and heart diseases. 8
xxiv. More recently, the government has also started a campaign to screen for breast cancers. xxv. Early detection and treatment of all of the above tends to reduce the need for serious medical care eventually. xxvi. Therefore, it is the individual that must first be responsible for his/her own health before the government comes in to help, and this helps maintain an efficient and effective healthcare system that does not over burden the country with huge healthcare debts. 2. How did Britain tackle the healthcare and related issues? a. Britain however took a very different path. They believed that it was the government’s duty to put an end to poverty, disease and employment. b. This was because the conditions in Britain before the 20 th century and just after WWII were very bad with many of her citizens unable to help themselves at all. c. This is why the British adopted the welfare state concept where the government would provide basic help for everyone in healthcare and employment to overcome the hardships of poverty. d. However, the man behind the idea, Sir William Beveridge did stress that the welfare state should not be so generous as to discourage people from working. He believed that the people should not be dependent on the government forever. e. So the intention behind the welfare state was a good one. Unfortunately, as we shall see later, it was mismanaged and abused, and became ineffective in its goal. f. To achieve the goals of Sir Beveridge, the British government started to do the following: i. The government started Nationalising Utilities (power and water companies) and Industries such as the railway, bus companies and coal mining. ii. This was meant to provide affordable services like electricity and water to the masses at an affordable price, at the same time provide employment. iii. The idea was to remove the profit motive (private companies) so that prices could be kept down. iv. In this way, Britons would not be at the mercy of rising prices for such basic necessities. v. They would also be able to find jobs. vi. Examples of these companies include British Telecoms and British Airways. vii. The government also created a safety net called the “cradleto-grave” welfare benefits. viii. This provided financial help from the moment a person is born till the day he dies. ix. For example, a maternity grant and allowance is given to the mother at childbirth, followed by child benefits to help the family raise children. x. Should the person be sick, injured or unemployed, the government would pay welfare benefits to help them meet daily expenses. xi. This would continue into old age where the government would provide a pension and eventually a death grant is given to help with funeral expenses. xii. All of the above aimed to provide every Briton a basic standard of living at any stage of their lives.
xiii. However, the money required to fund all these “services” would be collected in taxes from the government. This later became a problem as taxes to meet growing welfare demands. xiv. The money collected also helped provide basic health and medical care. xv. The NHS (National Health Service) was set up to provide free medical and dental services to all citizens. xvi. All basic services such as dental needs and even optical treatment were paid for by the government. xvii. The money to fund this came from taxes as well as worker health insurance. xviii. Started in 1948, the NHS was very popular and drew long queues in the 1st year of service. 3. Why did the welfare state run into problems? a. The intention behind the welfare state was a good one. Unfortunately, the effect was in ineffective system that became too costly to maintain. This was because of a few reasons. i. The system suffered from low efficiency. ii. Government owned companies such as the public utilities company did not worry about making profit. iii. Hence employees in these companies did not worry about efficiency because the government would continue to provide funds to run the company regardless of how it performed. iv. Because of this, the companies ran up huge losses and needed more government money to salvage them from bankruptcy. v. The NHS also suffered from low efficiency. With ever growing queues of patients, there was a lack of doctors and nurses to care for these patients. vi. Free healthcare meant that people misused the system for “nonurgent” cases, this overloaded the NHS system and contributed to the long queues even for urgent cases. vii. Patients who were wealthier soon moved over to the more efficient private wards where they paid for whatever they need. viii. But poorer Britons had no other option but to stay in the queue no matter how long it took. ix. At times the waiting times for surgery can stretch from months to years. x. The government also started spending more and more. xi. The rush for free medical care and spectacles in the 1st year catered to those who probably needed the care but could not afford it in the past. xii. It was also thought with each passing year of patients being treated, there would be fewer patients requiring the NHS. xiii. However, government spending continued to spiral upwards. xiv. For example, in 1979, the cost was at 7 billion pounds. By 1983, it had doubled to 14.7 billion pounds. xv. In some ways, this was cause by the misuse of the system by ordinary Britons. xvi. But doctors also contributed to the problem by freely prescribed medicine and treatment with no care of cost. This made things worse. xvii. Add the high expenses incurred by inefficient state run companies such as the power companies and you have a serious budget crisis. 10
xviii. The “why work” attitude also undermined the welfare state. xix. Since the poor were taken cared of by the welfare state, many of them lost the motivation to work. xx. There was no personal responsibility and people merely depended on the government to help them. xxi. This decreased even motivation to do well in studies for the middle class children since their lives were effectively taken cared of by the government. xxii. The belief was, why bother to look after yourself if the government promises to do it for you? xxiii. To make matters worse, the idea of giving basic employment and nationalizing companies drove businesses away. xxiv. This was because private companies could not compete against public companies that don’t seem to be worried about cost. xxv. Moreover, the high taxes meant to sustain the welfare state meant companies now ventured overseas to avoid the heavy taxes. xxvi. In consequence, this removed jobs for the people and made matters worse. xxvii. Therefore the welfare state while good in intentions, created more problems than it could solve. 4. How did Britain move away from the welfare state? a. The spiraling cost and problems of the welfare state meant that changes need to be made before it got out of hand. b. It was no longer possible for the British government to continue the generous benefits. c. Thus by the mid-1970s the British government decided to reduce welfare spending. d. It was hoped that with less government spending, and less taxes, more people would be motivated to work, while companies can reinvest more of their profits for the greater good and create jobs. i. One way this was done was to privatize the public utilities and healthcare. ii. In 1979, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher privatized companies such as British Telecoms, British Railway and the London bus service. iii. It was hoped that with the need to watch cost and profits, it would help save government money. iv. It should also make them more efficient. v. Medicines and dental treatment were no longer free except for students under 19 years old, expectant mothers and mothers with children under a year old. vi. Non-medical services such as laundry, cleaning and catering were also out sourced to companies to save cost. vii. Many attempts have also been made to improve the efficiency of the NHS as a whole. viii. Thus we see the British welfare state moving from one that tried to do everything for everyone, to one that lets market forces decide. ix. More importantly, it has tried to restore more personal responsibility into the system in the hope of making it more efficient and cost-effective. x. However such attempts are constantly opposed by a people used to the welfare state and this continues to be a problem today. xi. Any government that attempts to drastically change the welfare programme runs the risk of being elected out of office. 11
xii. Hence, welfarism is a trap that one should avoid as far as possible. .
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