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FORUM: MOE is giving away $238 million in scholarships every year to foreigners, yet schools are chasing for $156 from a poor Singaporean

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Forum writers asks, why the double standards?

Enough has been highlighted about Ministry of Education (MOE) on the plight of a PSLE students, whose exams results slip was withheld for not paying up a mere $156. MOE responded, saying that withholding exam results slips over unpaid school fees is a “long-standing practice”. MOE said that the student can still progress to secondary school using the photocopy of the results slip.

In Aug this year, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung made a shocking revelation in Parliament that his Ministry spends about a whopping $238 Million a year of Taxpayers for free scholarship grants to Foreigners, while responding to a question by Workers’ Party’s Non-constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Leon Perera, who asked about the Government’s spending on foreign students.

Responding to Mr Perera, Mr Ong admitted about 4 per cent of international students default on their bonds now and the tuition grants given to this group of students come to about S$5.5 million yearly. There no mention of the exact number of students who actually defaulted.

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Assuming MOE has been giving away scholarships for last 20 years, we would have lost about $110 M* in total, of taxpayers money to foreign students who had defaulted payment.

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If MOE’s policy is to withhold original PSLE Certificate of students from low income families for not paying school fee arrears of $156, Singaporeans are puzzled as to why the same rule was not applied to foreigners who absconded after collecting their educational certificates. Why the double standards?

After much public scrutiny by Singaporeans, MOE is now seen as a bully of the weak, for inflicting irreparable damage to the affected children by humiliating them in front of their peers, rather than going after their parents.

The public outcry of MOE’s actions has been so intense, Ministers have been avoiding any public statement on this issue, fearing opening up the Pandora box around foreign scholarship recipients who absconded after collecting their diplomas and degrees.

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Another failure of PAP’s schemes favoring foreigners. It will be just too easy for the current Education Minister Mr Ong Ye Kung to blame his predecessors, if he has not done so.

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Roger Kok


The 110M loss purported by the author is not corroborated by any other data points. We’re publishing this on the basis of simple arithmetic of 5.5M per year over 20 years. The actual numbers may be larger or smaller. 

The views expressed in this article does not represent the views of this publication.  

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