Following the revelation that in the past five years, Singapore’s government spent about S$130 million per year on international students studying in local schools and autonomous universities, Singaporeans online were an unhappy bunch.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung cited the following statistics in a Parliamentary written answer after being asked by Workers’ Party non-constituency MP Leon Perera.
One of the biggest questions on Mr Leon’s agenda was, “To ask the Minister for Education in each of the past five years, what is the total Government spending on scholarships and other forms of financial aid given to foreign students studying in Singapore schools and universities”.
Mr Ong wrote that the S$130 million spent represents about one per cent of the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s annual budget of S$13 billion.
Mr Ong also said that, “in general, international students receive less funding than local students, and most of MOE’s spending goes to supporting the education of Singapore citizens”.
“Government-funded financial assistance at our schools and government-funded bursaries at our post-secondary education institutions are for Singapore Citizens only” he added.
Even so, many netizens took to social media to express their frustration at the situation.
Netizens raised the recent incident where a 60-year old father said that he might have to resort to choosing between borrowing money, and stopping his daughter’s education because he was allegedly disallowed from using his Central Provident Fund (CPF) money to pay for his child’s education.
The CPF Board responded to the father with a statement confirming that he cannot use his CPF funds for his child’s education.
They said, “As Mr Lim did not have sufficient CPF savings for a basic retirement, allowing him to use his CPF for his daughter’s education is not appropriate”.
They also added that, “the better approach is to find other ways to finance his daughter’s school fees”.
CPF responds, says father with insufficient cash for daughter’s education cannot make a withdrawal
Despite Mr Ong’s reassurance about the way in which the money was being used, netizens were still very unhappy with the situation. The comments were not so much xenophobic, they were mainly about dissatisfaction that stemmed from comparisons. -/TISG