THE TEMASEK TIMES

News and views from an unique perspective

Compulsory Social service for sponsored international students

Posted by temasektimes on September 6, 2012

I am a Singaporean, born in India, brought up in Singapore and married to a Chinese Singaporean. I served 2.5 years of my life as a NS man. During my call of duty, I was awarded letter of commendation for my contribution and dedication to the service. I begin this note with a stand of being a Singaporean in every way except for the part of not born in Singapore. I breathe, live and eat like a Singaporean.

For the past five years, I have been contributing to the society as an educator. I am concerned about our education system in more than one ways. In this article, I would like to touch on the part of international student vs. Local student. As many of you would know, overseas student come to Singapore as the price of education (subsidized by the govt) here is cheap and the only thing that they need to do is “work” in Singapore for three years after their studies. I would like to provide and alternate solution for this.

Firstly, why I would like to explain on why I believe it is unfair for Singaporeans. For the purpose of explanation, lets consider the scenario of students graduating from the polytechnic and heading out to the work force. When they graduate, both the foreign student and the local student will be aged between 19 to 20 years old. Our boys head to NS for two years. During these two years the foreign student will have already started work and have a head start in the career. The earning power of these foreign students will be two years head of local Singaporean boys. Not just the earning power but also the experience gained by the foreign student will give them a huge advantage when comes to promotion and pay rise. This certainly puts our Singapore boys in disadvantage.

I would like to suggest a new approach to this situation. If the foreign student is subsidized or enter into education system through a scholarship, they will have to serve a year or two in a social service department run by the govt. This social service department can deploy them to places such as old folks home, Low-income tuition centers (Sinda, Mendaki), MCYS and many other local charity organizations. During these two years they will be paid the same salary as what a Singapore boys would earn in the army (NS). This system is to be applied regardless whether you are a male or a female foreign student. This would normalize the difference between a Singaporean and a foreign student. Furthermore, if the foreign student truly wants to be part of Singapore they will be more than happy to contribute to the society this way. In line with this suggestion, I would like the govt to rethink their approach on giving PR to the graduating foreign students. Currently, foreign students are offered PR once they have finished their diploma. I would like the govt to give the PR only after serving the two years social service.

My suggestion would be argued by many stating that the foreign students will have to sustain another two years of no income and this would definitely be a burden to their parents. I would like you to see it from this angle. If the burden is on their parents, and if we are so concerned about our foreign students parents having to take the burden, have you ever considered the burden our Singapore parents have to go through the two years of supporting their son?

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for taking time for reading this article. Let’s continue to welcome foreign students who are willing to root themselves by contributing back to this fabulous society of ours.

DAVID BALA

*The above was first posted as a note on Facebook.

32 Responses to “Compulsory Social service for sponsored international students”

  1. Free Trolley said

    the foreigners on scholarship are bonded to work in Singapore for a few years. Money > social benefits, the idea will never go through.

  2. Sun Tzu said

    Would it be any different than to ask foreign workers to do one day community or social work of their choosing on the weekend? Then perhaps that will stamp the tide of foreign workers and students to Singapore.

    • 4thGEN said

      This is may be on another tangent but I feel justified in voicing out here: Community or social work is NOT a punishment but indeed a previlege. If many think like you, then you will only “stamp the tide” of generosity and giving from other Singaporeans and “Singaporeans at Heart” for the greater good of your community. Lead by example Sun Tzu, then others may follow.

      Apologies for sidetracking.

  3. Daft Peasant said

    foreign students, regardless male or female have to do social work for 2 years, to compensate our sinkies male…… then sinkies cha bor leh? Do NS also?

    Bala, your idea is good, and i know where you come from……but this idea will not jalan….. bcos the miw won’t care……

  4. spotlessleopard said

    female foreigners to do
    “national service” in areas like Nursing or Medics in the national service armed forces and males to do National service…then they can go out to do thier bonded emploment….this is to level the playing field for true blooded Singaporeans.

  5. Duncan said

    That’s I called a true local bred Singapore boy.

  6. Uniquely Singapore said

    Foreigners want to study here shouldn’t be subsidized or given scholarships and allowance by the government. Foreign students must prove that they have a sponsor for their tuition fees and living expenses before they are being offered a places in our schools. 80-90% of school places must be filled up by citizens first before foreigners are offered a places, Subsidies is for citizens only and scholarships must be given to citizens first before foreigners are being put into considerations. All scholarships for foreign students are given to those at the top 15% of their cohort only and those in the process of naturalization should be given priority.

  7. Uniquely Singapore said

    That Ingrate Sun Dog is a classic example that we shouldn’t give scholarships to and allowed study in Singapore.

  8. Naivety said

    This is a good suggestion & scheme to level the playing field but I am very doubtful that the Pro-Alien Party would want to implement it!

  9. Friend said

    Bala, my sentiments exactly.

    But then again, this idea would have been shoved off without a reply, more or less. Never know if it works, but with the government pushing pro-foreign policies as though they had an intent to ‘revolutionize’ Singapore in overall, we Singaporeans will still continue to suffer.

    Only those whom migrated have seen better days than us. We’re all pawns of this governance, one life at a time.

  10. OReilly said

    You got to remember as a native, you dont have to pay for house rentals as you are staying with your parents. These days, rentals also went up, how you expect these foreign graduates do this social service with NS pay, unless govt give them free lodging.

    • Overseas Singaporean said

      Either they stay in a f**king 12-man bunk just as most of us SG men do, work part-time to pay for their living expenses, or scram if they can’t take the pressure. Sun Xu is a perfect example of how a scholar turns into an ingrate because he is too well taken care of by the government, and took everything for granted. I’m working overseas and I’m not given any preferential expatriate treatment. I pay for my own rent with my own salary. And even local students here work part-time to pay for their rent and school fees. Why should we Singaporeans pay for the education of a foreign scholar who has little to no interest in contributing to our country? If they want to come to SG for their education/work for whatever reasons be it our schools’/companies’ reputation or good standard of living, fine. But earn it.

      • studentinsg said

        Asking them to stay in a 12 man room is unrealistic, because there is a max limit to occupancy for our HDB flats and public housing. However, we can implement some NS regimes onto them, such as IPPT and RT. Scholars whom dont pass their IPPT, will have to attend RT sessions like us NS men. After all, we should not waste money on half-fit scholars, and we should always ensure they need to be fit enough to stay alive to serve their 3 years bond after their graduation. Since our RSAF terminates contract of pilots whom suffer permanent injuries, I believe the same system should be implemented on foreign scholars on our MOE scholarship. Foreign scholars whom fail their IPPT should also have their scholarship stipend withdrawn until they clear finish their RT.

      • Cozy said

        From what I see the whole point of this scheme is simply to penalize the foreigners. So why waste money and effort on training and implementing social work programs for them? Make it simple – increase their bond period and implement stiffer penalties for breaking their bond, such that no foreign company or parent would ever dare dream of paying it off to get them off the hook.

    • Angry Bird said

      @OReilly . . . lets face it, if these foreigners cannot afford to live and study here, no one pushes/forces them to come anyway. using public funds to subsidize these foreigners is grossly unfair to tax payers. Every country should do the moral thing is to take care and give priority to its own citizens first! I disagree with your view.

  11. Amaze said

    Both David Bala and “Uniquely Singapore” have say it well. Hope d government will response how they think about their ideas.

  12. BK said

    Foreign students come via private institutions and publicly funded institutions. Those that go to private institutions would of course bring obvious economic value to Singapore. EDB/STPB aim to attract 150,000 international students by 2015. Assuming living expenses at sgd 8000/annum, that gives an input of sgd 1.2 billion dollars excluding the multiplier effect.

    What is the cost of subsidising the International students at public institutions? I dont believe it is close to sgd 1.2 billion dollars. And scholarships for international students are also a promotion for Singapore’s educational hub. There are an estimated 2.5 million international students, most of which go to the West and Australia. The Asian emerging destinations are Malaysia, Singapore and China.

    From the economic point of view, and the need for being competitive, scholarships enhance our position to be an educational hub. There are the heart -ware and the brain -ware propositions; that the students who have profited in Singapore will be good ambassadors for us, and those that stay will provide an extra dimension to the overall quality of the workforce.

    Yes, from an individual perspective, the foreign student seems to have it all, but Singapore does benefit too, whether it is sufficient is of course up for debate.

    Enforcing international students to do social work makes for a compelling and seemingly equitable solution for the subsidy they received. In fact, making our students do social service is just as compelling if not more so since they are Singaporeans. But in this extraction of “service” , are we not being small minded. Not everything can be bartered in a tit for tat manner.

    Are we to be a home with no guests? No acquaintances, no friends? Do we extract clean up service for those that come to our home?

    I think the immigration issues are so flawed that they created overlapping social tensions beyond just the workforce. Our usual generosity is subsumed by the Government’s inability to manage the explosion of people and the diminishing living space. I hope our immigration root of openness and generosity, where sharing in poverty was communal will not be overtaken by bad policies, and social divergence. We are Singaporeans, not PAP.LKY gave the mighty sum of exactly sgd 1 million to the Philippines for economic restructuring after they overthrew Marcos.

    Singaporeans first, is not Singaporeans only, we need friends, we need the world. Dont let PAP make us isolated.

  13. studentinsg said

    Hi David, your suggestion is great to a certain extent. However, there are some things that we can improve upon. Firstly, do not expect foreign students to perform full-time social service, we can expect them to do part time as an obligation to maintain their scholarship status quo. An example would be asking them to fulfill 60 hours of social service every year, else their scholarship cannot be renewed. These 60 hours is considered a discount, compared to the mandatory 17520 hours of National Service that Singaporean males have to go through and the average 120 hours spent in ICT each year, and yet we still have to pay for our own school fees.

    Moreover, our Singaporean A’ level and diploma students have to undertake 60-80 hours of community service before being eligible for government scholarships. It is only fair, if those foreign students will undertake the same kind of commitment to be able to renew their scholarships annually.

    Asking them to do full-time social service for NS pay is unrealistic, even Singaporean social workers earn a regular office salary nowadays. Our main objective should be to attract them, but at the same time, instill a better sense of social responsibility to avoid another Sun Xu’s case from happening.

  14. ganina utama said

    Dont waste time lah, if pap listen to u, sky drop down!

  15. 5vvaper said

    To require 100hrs of social services per annum throughout their scholarship tenure is not too much to ask for. Either that or be bonded to a VWO for 2 years right after graduation and after that we talk about PRship.

    Fall short of criteria? It get snow balled to the next year. 1 more year of non achievement scholarship terminated and pay back whatever is paid with interest

    PAP, the ball’s in your court.

  16. senseless said

    How about allowing foreigners to sue their employers if they are paid less than locals?
    Make a national standardised paygrade based on age/experience schedule?

    It is easy to fall into the trap of obsessing about “fairness”, only when it disadvantages oneself.

    If the problem is social maturity. Make them take standardised EQ and maturity tests and compared to the general population of the same age group. But after Sun Xu’s case, I think many PRCs are now afraid of making any public remarks that’s even slightly critical of the locals.

  17. idunno said

    whose the guy in the picture?? I dont think his the writer of the letter.

  18. Ka Ki Kong Ka Ki SONG said

    Ali Baba, you don’t have to speak up for Singaporeans like me. I do not appreciate you now nor when you take up arms when Singapore have a war with India. I just want you to know that I did not get help from my Sinkapoo Gahman for my studies. I had to pay my way, so I must thank you for speaking up????!!!

  19. Jonathan said

    Your idea is great. But I think it operates under the fundamental premise that we Singaporeans are doing charity by bringing in these foreign students. We consciously want these foreign students in our midst for us to know our competition (keep your enemies closer blah blah) and to mingle and get culturally sensitised. However, the best of the best minds will not come if you have this policy in place, 2nd rate minds will come. You dont want these people to become Singaporeans even if they want to (Government standpoint).

  20. tryme said

    “ Singapore land for Singaporean people” get all locusts out of Singapore

  21. welovesingapore said

    David has given his fair statement to young singaporean facing the unfair practice in Singapore. Why is the gov so critical in assessing singaporean for a scholarship opportunity??? You mean there are less A that singaporean student scored. Must their score be all A to get a scholarship. In the first place, if deserving student even without the straight A should be given scholarship before any foreign student stand a chance. Let potential foreign student write a proposal for their applicantion to our scholarship on the topic “How to contribute to our society”. Their write up should also be implemented by them eventually. Else the scholarship would be withdrawn with a penalty. The selection process for awarding scholarship to foreign student is not critical enough to deprive deserving young singaporean a scholarship in the first place.

  22. why social service by government only? said

    why social service by government only?

    It should open to public or non-profit organisation. Bear in mind the sponsorship money is from all public contribution, and not just from government!

  23. Fed up said

    In the first case scholarship should go to sg citizens and not to foreigners unless they are exceptionally bright because it is taxpayers money.

  24. David said

    Ping pong team got bronze get 250k But para Olympians get silver get 25k what kind of a stupid logic is that….

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