Singapore — In a Facebook post where he endeavoured to find solutions for “burden-free education” for those who may not be able to afford it, the Workers’ Party’s Jamus Lim let on that his mom ‘would argue’ that he himself never left school.
The Member of Parliament (Sengkang GRC) lost his father when he was still quite young, and it can therefore be surmised that resources for his education were limited.
However, he wrote in his Jul 28 post that he had been “lucky enough to have secured various bursaries, scholarships, and grants that saw me through part of my undergraduate studies and most of my graduate work.”
Dr Lim added that not everyone has had these chances, and if it were up to the results of his A-levels alone, he would not have either.
But education for those who are “hungry to learn” should be available, he wrote.
“Money shouldn’t be an insurmountable barrier,” the MP added, saying that the sense of spending on education had been a value instilled into him as a child.
“Money was often tight as I was growing up, but Mom would never deny me any book I wanted to buy (even if it meant postponing the purchase till payday).”
He acknowledged that other Asian families share these values, even dipping into CPF savings “with nary a regret,” although this eats into their fund for retirement.
Dr Lim then mentioned his yet mom again, writing that she says he is “the investment, so I had better pay it back during her later years!”
Going back to the issue of education financing, he acknowledged that it is “especially acute for the middle class” being sandwiched between lower-income families who have access to grants and bursaries and higher-income families whose parents can afford their schooling.
Dr Lim, therefore, suggested that loans be made available to students, and in the event that they are unable to pay, governments can step in to help.
“Society as a whole will be better off when we bet on our people. The key is to design a system whereby students who graduate with good jobs repay (with interest), with the profits thus earned going toward writing off the partial or full debt of those who have been less successful.”
He argued that programmes for student debt repayment exist in other countries, and while Singapore has some schemes, these can be expanded to specifically help middle-class students.
He added, “In my recent speech on the budget in Parliament, I proposed using SINGA infrastructure bonds to seed an initial fund that can be used to finance income-contingent student loans.
Once the scheme is up and running, it can be made self-sustaining. My hope is that we can complement the existing suite of education financing modes with another option, which caters to an underserved segment, who will nevertheless benefit from burden-free education.”
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