Overzealous parents

Primary One registration is underway, yet again. And once more, we see the typical ‘kiasu’ Singaporean families who will insist on sending their kids to the top schools. Senior Writer Sandra Davie, in her article in The Straits Times, urged parents to look out for neighbourhood schools who do well in producing top PSLE pupils. End of the day, I believe that it is more important for parents to boost their children’s confidence in their academic ability, rather than just their academic ability. Ms Davie mentioned that the best school might not be the right school for one’s child. She urged parents to look out for schools with sound academic programmes rather. This I would agree with her. Sending your kid to the best school may not necessarily produce top results. Instead, he/she might so pressured into doing well that he/she flops. But I think that, no matter what anyone says, Singaporeans will always be Singaporeans – always believing that one’s child is an academic genius, with tuition all week round plus music lessons.

 

Read the article here:

http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_816940.html

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Starting pay concerns: University versus Polyechnic graduates

According to the Ministry of Manpower, the starting salaries for university and polytechnic graduates hit a new high in 2011. Although this all seems good for everyone, I think it is a more pressing concern for university graduates to be paid good starting salaries, especially from the male perspective. I question the focus on the need for guys to be paid good salaries, when in due time, they would be called up for National Service. The idea of keeping them with the company, then, would not be applicable. Yes, no doubt the girls would go out into the working world, but wouldn’t a number of them proceed onto the next level of education, i.e. attaining a degree? I am not criticising good starting salaries for polytechnic gradutes, but rather, I am arguing that there is a greater need for university graduates to make good starting salaries.

 

Read the article here:

http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_816908.html

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Mobile phones the way forward. But still we are moving backwards.

It’s all about smartphones now. First mobile phones could only make calls and send text messages. Now our portable communication devices are able to surf the web, connect on social networking sites, act as an mp3 player, video player, and even better, act as mobile boarding passes replacing the need for paper documents during air travel. An initiative has been rolled out in March by Singapore Airlines for a new way of airport security scan before the immigration area. Instead of paper boarding passes, the electronic bar code data sent to the mobile phone directly by the airline is said to be secure to a greater extent.

While all this sounds like a peek into the futuristic world of speed and efficiency driven by technology, bubbles are burst when travellers encounter an extra step at Singapore’s Changi Airport, required by security. This extra step involves a paper receipt that has to be printed and used after the mobile boarding pass has been scanned. This seems very much to defeat the purpose of using a more secure and efficient method of mobile scanning. If mobile is “definitely the way forward” as said by Arinc and Amadeus, two firms that was reported in the paper that work closely with airports and airlines, why are we still using the paper method?

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Goodman Arts Centre has a new sibling

Singapore takes its next step in promoting its brand equity culturally when the Goodman Arts Centre located at mountbatten will be joined by the brand new Aliwal Arts Centre. The National Arts Council is currently inviting arts groups and artists to apply for spaces at the new arts centre which will be subsidised. Compared to the Goodman Arts Centre, the Aliwal Arts Centre will have 31 tenanted art spaces, open courtyards, as well as commercial areas for f&B businesses. The location pushes the affluent cultural heritage of the Kampong Glam Conservation District which aims to unite the arts community and the general public. Affordibility on art spaces is stressed very much in the setting up of the arts centre, under the “shared office scheme” which offers a subsidised rate for renting or hiring studio facilities to be used for performances by freelance artists who do not have regular activities.

With this new arts centre being set up, artists do not have to rely on/share space with book cafes such as The Pigeonhole located at Duxton Road, and they might even find better prices for art spaces! Although I have personally been to these small and cozy book cafes and love the great atmosphere and charm it provides and I wonder if artists would actually prefer to have their art performances displayed at the arts centre.

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Reviewing marriage and parenthood policies

This issue has been discussed and reviewed so many times over the past few years: Singapore’s low fertility rate. Singapore’s current total fertility rate is at 1.20.

It was recently announced by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean that the government’s National Population and Talent Division will be reviewing the country’s policies and measures that would encourage Singaporeans to wed, settle down and start a family of their own. He also added that he is looking forward to feedback and ideas on creating a favourable pro-family environment in Singapore.

Young Singaporeans are a really tough bunch to please. We claim to find “difficulty” in getting the right partner (perhaps it is because of the cultural change that women and men can remain single and not starting a family isn’t such a bad thing), or that it is expensive to get married and buy properties, and yes, raising a child comes at a price, literally. Such changes in terms of government policies should technically help couples or future couples settle down and have babies of their own. The government, as announced in various media conferences etcetera, is trying to help couples in starting the family. Singapore is an aging population and the government is trying to be as supportive as it possibly can in its policies.

But there really is just so much that the government and whatever policies they come up with can do to help and encourage Singaporeans to settle down and have children. The real issue here is the mindsets and attitudes of the young Singaporeans: they have changed. Women; we don’t need to stay at home and be a “housewife” to cook, clean and look after the children. No, we can have a career and have a kid (4 months of paid maternity leave is a real plus point here). Honestly I think the younger generation just think differently: we are getting married at an older age and most settle for 1 child.

Whatever it is, know that the policies should technically help families or couples in their decision to start a family.

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Libraries loaning out Ebooks

Libraries are now equipped with e-reading devices for loan to the public, with the service launched by Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Lee Yi Shyan on Thursday last week.

I feel it’s a great thing that steps are being taken to bridge the digital divide and making reading more relevant to the younger generation. What I would really want is to be able to purchase ebooks globally on US websites. There might be a need to revisit and make amendments to geographic rights of digital books. Geographic restrictions of ebooks are soooo outdated in this age of the internet!

 

 

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Dense, small city can be clean and green

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, at the Rio+20 summit that just recently ended in Rio de Janeiro, said the key to achieve a city that can be concurrently dense and green is to build upwards and to leave space for trees. The Singapore government has made long-term plans to make Singapore high-rise, urbanised and compact, adding, “although five million people live within an island 30km across, 47% of our land is covered by trees” (Chan, 2012).

I am pretty sure our reputation, as a garden city has had to come from something and somewhere, no? Just look at the roads leaving Changi Airport: it is lined with trees, plants, flowers, anything green, to welcome Singaporeans and tourists.

In addition to the fact that Singapore is a pretty green city, Dr Balakrishnan also added that the lack of resources forced Singapore to be innovative in its water purification processes and recycling efforts.

Well, this is something us Singaporeans should be proud of. In all honesty, for a globalised city, home to commercialised buildings, Singaporeans really should be grateful for the clean air we all sometimes take for granted. This is of course not taking into consideration the seasonal haze periods that can sometimes be a nuisance on the roads. Be glad that we do not live in a densely populated city that is so polluted, like Hong Kong for example.

It is also apt that Gardens by the Bay at Marina Bay will officially be open to the public on Friday, 29 June. This project is in line with Singapore’s “City in a Garden” vision. This 101 hectare garden houses over 250 000 rare plants.

So sometimes it really is nice to just kick back and appreciate the air here in Singapore.

References

Chan, R. (2012, June 24). Dense cities can be green, says Minister. The Sunday Times, p. 1.

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