Thursday, June 07, 2007

Special Treatment reserved for foreigners?

Alejandro and Christine Uy Tan flew to Singapore to meet me in January 2002. They were recommended by a business friend. They visited my home and I brought them round to see some of our secondary schools and nearby neighbourhoods in Singapore. Andy told me he was sending his wife and 4 children to live in Singapore because of security reasons back in the Philippines. Andy is a pig farmer who also 'dabbles' in real estate.

I explained to them in detail the procedures and requirements of applying to the government schools here. They were given the information leaflet on the admission of foreign students to Government and Government-aided schools in Singapore. They were also told which level each of the 4 kids were going as they had each taken my own Assessment Tests. At the meeting, there was no mention of letting their kids live with me.

End of April, I met up with the Tan family when I went to Manila. I was told they were sending their eldest boy first because their grandmother disapproved of their sending the boys overseas. On 3rd May, the couple and their two elder sons came to Singapore. Only the eldest son, Jonas stayed on.

Andy claimed to lost US$10,000 at the Manila Airport. Thus he didn't make any payment for my services, the accommodation or the school fees. Out of sympathy, I paid for Jonas' school fees and miscellaneous expenses first while waiting 3 weeks (It only required 3 days for funds to be TT from Manila to Singapore!) for Andy to send money over. Unknown to me, he was trying out if Jonas could get accustomed to the life here. If it didn't, he could just pull out.

Andy and Christine never trusted me fully. They were very careful. After giving them the information they asked for, they would check with their friends, friends of friends ..... anyone who knows something about Singapore. I was very cautious whenever I answered their queries, knowing they would clarify or check with someone.

Then the younger son David came over in June to prepare for the entrance tests. Besides attending lessons at a language centre, the brothers had Mandarin, Maths, Science and English language tuition at home. They took the the IQ Test and entrance tests at 5 secondary schools and failed all of them.

Both boys were students of Xavier High School , a popular school for the rich and influential in Manila. MOE also recruits scholars from this school which charges up to US$3000 per annum school fees. You need to be somebody to be able to have your sons study here.

Well, the boys were accepted by Bedok North Secondary School by the Vice-principal Mrs Kong Chai Eng, although they failed their entrance tests. For a donation of S$5000 each. Another 2 China students Deng Li and Zhang Leixin paid S$10,000 each, both their English language scores were below 25%. Scores were altered to attain a 50% pass. Both were admitted to Express stream. David and Zhang Leixin were accepted for Secondary 1 Express classes even before the PSLE secondary school posting was out. They were asked to report to school on 6th January 2003 to avoid suspicion. :)

Will the Singapore educators do such things for our own local students?

As a Singaporean, would you give donations to get a place for your children in your preferred school?

...... to be continued


  1. looks like nothing changed...
    about a decade ago, as a SINGAPORE CITIZEN wanting to get into st pats (transferring in from another school), my dad was asked to make a donation of S$10,000.

  2. nope, might be getting worse with the tearing down of old school buildings and building bigger, newer premises costing tens of millions.

    I think it is the principals' race to get promoted to higher levels. We the parents and children are their pawns and stepping stones.

    hmmmm.... st pats. S$10.000.

  3. This is digusting... What kind of values can such people teach to the children?

  4. Ed,
    Nowadays common lah! Our educators are very different from our time liao. Only want to get into the books of their bosses. You think many would really care for our young generation?

    There are more coming up.

  5. hmm if i'm not wrong, there's this rule that foreign students must make donation 2 times within their 4 yrs of secondary sch education...

    I really didn't know with money, it's so easy to get into the local education system.

  6. chillycraps,
    That's the MOE Education Fund. Compulsory S$1000 every 2 years. It used to be lump sum S$5000 per student, then they change it to the present amount. Cheap for the peidu mamas lah.

    The other 'donations' are school building funds or whatever the schools prefer to call it lah.

  7. Oh yeah, my mom had to pay S$5,000 each(uang hangus, we called it) for her two kids to MOE and S$3000/kid to the schools as donation before we were allowed to study in secondary school in Singapore 14 years ago.

    3 years ago, I helped my cousin to apply for schools in Singapore and it seemed that the donation money asked is getting more and more.

    Actually, I wonder why the schools need to ask for donation from their foreign students. Aren't they allocated budget from the government?

    I shall wait for more of your story!!! :-)

  8. My JB frens who send their kids to study in sgp secondary schools were also asked to donate water coolers.

  9. Aiks.. it happened in Malaysian Chinese schools too. I heard some people had to make a donation to get their child into the school that they wanted.

  10. Well… I can definitely see desperate parents willing to 'donate' to get their children into a good school. Then again, I find it appalling to see headmasters offering this 'donation' option for parents. Where is the work ethic?

  11. lilMrsT,
    The S$5000 was the Education Fund to MOE. Now it's S$1000 per student every 2 years. School fees is heavily subsidised by our Singapore Government. It costs them more than S$23,000 per student per year. A large sum of money which our Government allocates to our students.

    For every foreign student that the school accepts, the foreigner is enjoying the benefits of a Singaporean. A foreign student only pays nominal school fees per month. Some private schools in Indonesia, Philippines, China, Taiwan and Thailand are charging higher school fees than our schools.

    Our education system is well-known in the world, so for a world-class education at such low fees, Singapore is still a good place for parents to send their kids. And our security is also well-known in the world.

    I don't have problems with school asking for donations from their students. They do need funds for better equipment and facilities. The Government can't pay for everything, so the schools have to do their own fund-raising too.

    But as educators, if they allow students to be admitted because of their donations, something is wrong with their character. And what are they teaching their students then?

  12. Hi cocka,
    Were they accepted by the schools only because they donated water-coolers?

    Malaysian schools do request donations from their students too.

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  14. Hi hin-ching chan,
    The unfair thing is - the principals don't make such offers available to the locals. Because Singaporeans will complain! hehehe....

    There are long queues of local students for a place at Top schools but they are passed over for foreigners.

  15. Ok, I understand now.

    But, I believe this donation thingy should not be used to cut queue or worse let students jump into higher class.

    Sigh, waiting for the rest of the story ...

  16. This is all so stupid! All the think about is $$$. Like what you say, donation is fine but they cant admit a kid bcos of the $$ even if he cant make it what! They are going to ruin his life. I bet they dont care. They are educators. Is there what they are teaching our children? This is so sad!

  17. Wow... have to pay so much to get into Singapore schools? The schools must be very rich then.

  18. The case of parents expect and try to help their children and in the end which might harm them more?

  19. This is terrible..!
    I've always known something was up with those foreign students..!

  20. Well, a lot of people say, when your children is not good at studies, there's where lots of $$$ comes in.

    If I were the principal of a premier/famous school, I don't think I will accept a few thousand dollars and admit a low-quality student into my school. Not that I look down on the student, but such doing will really tarnish the school's reputation as a 名校, don't you think so?

  21. During my time it was S$3k worth of donation (the official one) for entry to my primary sch.

    For sec school, luckily it was waived for me as I managed to get into the Special Stream.

    But then again, I was a little too young to understand all these - thought they were part of my 'school fees' :)

  22. "But as educators, if they allow students to be admitted because of their donations, something is wrong with their character. And what are they teaching their students then?"

    What's the point of having all those character building talks we have to attend?
    Like telling us not to smoke and then chain smoke in front of us.

  23. Singaporeans can do community work for the schoold for a minimum of X hours loh! Sigh...More I read, more I tor hui.

  24. Oh no, BNSS? One of my former secondary school teachers teaches there now! This is scandalous!

  25. I have to do the same..donation to the school I wanted Karen to go...There is just no other way...How frustrating...

  26. wokkingmum,
    That's the reality of our sad society today. People don't care. As long as they get a promotion, better ranking, salary increment - that's all that matter to them.

    Only we citizens follow the law, people who know the law or are the law themselves, they know how to go about it. Sad.

  27. rinnah,
    Most of this money is used on buying better equipment for the students, improving the facilities and environment of the school.

    Some of it is spent on really silly things like S$100,000 for tiling the assembly area with moral values carved on the tiles. Then all the students stepped on them everyday during assembly.
    *slap my forehead*

  28. oceanskies,
    Thanks for your support. I need it.

  29. henry,
    yes. Too high expectations of their children. Some parents think too highly of their kids and only got to embarrassed themselves.

  30. mamabok,
    There are much more .....
    Hidden away and not to be told...
    Actually nobody dared to, except me. haha.....

  31. day-dreamer,
    Yes. But a famous or prestigious school also need money to run and continue to be prestigious. :)

  32. miss loi,
    Wah! Special stream!= Gifted Programme!


  33. Christina,
    There are lots more examples.

    For some educators, whatever they teach, they don't practise.

  34. tigerfish,
    Yah, the good Singaporeans will obediently do the community work, while those privileged few would go backdoors! :)

  35. Captain Picrad,
    Oops, you said that 'b' word. :)

  36. shilpa,
    Really? Bet you she doesn't know a thing about this. Because it was hush hush!

  37. eve,
    That's in Malaysia. I hear so many stories about these things in Malaysia and I encountered a few. Blatantly .... at the Second Causeway Customs, Malacca Traffic Police, North-south highway patrol.....

  38. Hi ECL wrote my two cents on your post. haha..