In Singapore’s desire to be a regional education hub, there are now about 1,000 private schools in Singapore. Considering Singapore’s size, that’s a lot. However with reports about private schools closing down in Singapore and the operators of these schools disappearing with student’s money (in one case, private school offering fake foreign degrees), the Singapore government has now implemented more stringent rules for Singapore’s private schools.
The Singapore Parliament has passed the Private Education Bill which I had blogged on 12th March 2009 (Voluntary?). I wasn’t burning with enthusiasm on the Bill then, and I’m not burning with enthusiasm on the Bill now. And I’m not the only one! Members of Parliament Christopher De Souza and Halimah Yacob had come out to criticize that the Bill has no bite. They are right.
I especially agreed with MP Christopher De Souza especially that a maximum fine of S$10,000 is no deterrent to anyone. He said that a maximum fine of S$100,000 would be a more robust deterrent. I’m not sure about that because I think the maximum fine should be even higher than that but he’s on the right track. Mind you, these are PAP MPs. If members of the ruling party do not agree with this Bill, this tells you a lot about the new Private Education Bill.
I also don’t understand why the Singapore government has put EduTrust on a voluntary basis. Senior Minister of State for Education, S Iswaran, said that not all private schools will apply for EduTrust. He’s right because it is not necessary! Why should private schools register for EduTrust and put themselves under more scrutiny when EduTrust is voluntary? How many people and companies you know would willingly put themselves under government scrutiny if they can help it?
So the Singapore government has now implemented more stringent rules for Singapore’s private schools; more stringent rules that has no bite in them.