Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reduce the competition in schools

Hong Kong implemented reforms to its education system 10 years ago - less examinations, wider choice of subjects, more creativity. The competition and stress levels remained high.

The reason? They still focus on grades to win entry to university places that cater for 18% of each cohort.  Parents continue to give private tuition to their children to score marks in the new examination format.

I have pointed out consistently in the past - if you do not address the root of the problem, you will continue to suffer the same problems.

If you continue to pay graduates much higher than non-graduates, you will encourage students and parents to compete for the rewards.

My solution is to reduce the salary gap between graduates and on-graduates. We have to pay adequate wages to manual and service workers, so that it is worth and dignified for people to work in these occupations.

This requires a minimum wage for each occupation. It can be market based, but should be adequate for the worker to raise a family.

The current system exploits workers who are weak or not well educated. If we remove the exploitation, the market can work better. If the wages are adequate for manual and service jobs, there is no need to rely on foreign workers. Locals will be happy to take up these jobs.

We have created a problem for ourselves by refusing to recognize the realities, and by relying on market forces (which could be exploitation).

Study trip to review the European model of conscription

Joseph Kheng-Liang Tan asked:
Do you think the trip to study European conscription models is just a 'wayang' or will they actually adopt some best practices?

I was not aware previously about this trip to study the European conscription model.

It is certainly an encouraging development. It means that the Government has finalized recognized the need to review our approach towards compulsory National Service. They also probably recognized the serious damage that NS has caused to the country - which is a topic that I had raised for the past 25 years.

The compulsory NS had placed our males at a serious disadvantage and delay their entry into the workforce for 3 years. It delayed their marriage and is a major cause of the big drop in our birth rate (apart from other factors, like the modern city lifestyle).

In recent years, the problem has been magnified by the entry of foreigners into the workforce, competing with our locals.

I expect, after the trip, that the Government will recognize the need to reduce the NS burden on our males. But, knowing the Government, they will probably implement the change over 3 to 5 years, instead of immediate implementation, and they will find some "less than honest" way of presenting the message.

If they present the message in an honest way and admit their past mistakes, it would be to their big credit, and they can start to rebuild the trust of the people.

Let us wish for the best.

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