Is Education Minister Heng Swee Keat Talking Cock?

Come I clap for you. Some job in reality is more equal than others.

Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat

Any rational student who chanced upon this particular chart and wishes to pursue a career with the SAF will definitely try to get into a local university and score well. Who in the right mind will sign on within the SAF as a career officer with only a diploma when you know your starting salary pales in comparison to a degree holder yet will be performing similar roles as him/her? Imagine a diploma holder platoon commander knows that the platoon commander one floor below you earns minimally $1000 more but both are performing the same roles and that chap is earmarked to be an OC or CO while the diploma holder knows he is pretty much stuck on the climb up the ladder. It must have been a sucky feeling I reckon.

MINDEF’s focus on academic qualification is jarring. But some public agencies are not so explicitly hurtful. Let’s take a look at the starting pay packages for senior police officers:

You cannot help but notice that they have 2 ranks listed for applications – ASP and INSP, and it comes with a caveat that says “Appointment grade and starting salary will vary according to assessment of academic qualifications”. Why are there 2 ranks? A pass degree holder and a degree with merit will both be appointed as inspectors, while graduates with good honours will be able to sign on with a higher rank (and salary) as an ASP. At least the SPF tries to present the chart in a less elitist, discriminating manner.

Hopeful parents who think that their child will have a better life after the educational review, think again. The mindset that “good academic record holders make better officers” has served Singapore reasonably well for 50 years and I doubt this successful model can (or will) be changed overnight.

So I think it is still worthwhile to send your kids to tuition classes and drill them well as far as academics are concerned to ensure they ace their examinations. Good paper qualification still counts significantly towards a good start in your child’s career.

This article was first published over at the Taming The Crowd blog on 9 March 2015. It is reproduced with permission.


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