Wasting public funds on questionable scholarships

By Kampong Boy

The last thing we need for Singapore is to create more scholars.

According to this CNA report, the government is going to create 1500 scholars over 10 years focused on research and teaching.

My first gripe over this initiative is that it fails to indicate to the public how much the entire program would cost. Based on an average funding of $20,000 per person per year, and 150 scholars per year, I am looking at an annual funding of 3 million dollars per year, or 30 million over the entire 10 years.

Second, this initiative was announced without any explanation of the background. The public should be kept informed on the objective of this program, whether there is a manpower gap in academics or teaching or both, what are the limiting factors to growing the current cohort of students to fill such positions, and why are universities unable to develop the talent pool?

Third, there is no mention whether SINGAPOREANS will be given any priority during the application, or is the program actually targeting foreigners?

Fourth, there is a need to rein in government spending. Running a country is no different from running a business. You do not just keep increasing the expenses without a valid return on investment. Should these programs eventually only benefit foreigners who leave for greener pastures, then why should SINGAPOREANS bear the cost?

Last, there is a pertinent need for a fundamental review of the scholarship system in the ministries and statboards. Judging from the mess we are in with infrastructure lagging behind population surge, and ever rising cost structures that outpace wage growth, it is hard to believe that scholarships are producing the right kind of leaders to manage this country.

Scholarships should only be awarded in sectors that do not naturally attract the best talents such as Environment and Social Work. As for sectors like finance and economy, there is no lack of young people plunging in.

The savings from the reduction of scholarship programs, should then be directed towards building more bursary programs to help less fortunate Singaporeans. Only then can we have a more balanced and inclusive society over time.

This was reproduced with permission from editors of TR Emeritus.


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