Citing the statistic that 97 out of 100 students have to receive tuition on top of attending school, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate for Yuhua single-seat ward Teo Soh Lung, 62, posed this question to her direct opponent, the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) Grace Fu, who is Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education: What is wrong with the education system? Speaking at the SDP rally in Jurong East Stadium on Friday night, Ms Teo, a retired lawyer, said: “Singapore is known as a ‘tuition nation’. I want to ask the minister what is wrong with our system and I hope to receive an answer very soon.”
The problem, said Ms Teo, was that parents spend “as much as S$500 a month” on tuition fees. She also lamented having too many students in a classroom managed only by one teacher. “How come after over 50 years of PAP rule we still have 40 students in a class and not 20 students in a class – as in a First World nation? I feel so sad that the system has deteriorated.” Ms Teo pledged to become a full-time Member of Parliament (MP) if elected. “I will service you with my utmost ability … My fellow colleagues will also assist me. My party and I are fully aware that we have plenty to do … We are determined to make a difference for you.”
She also said “SDP MPs would donate 50 per cent of allowance to service the residents”, with programmes such as “an endowment fund for the needy”. She also said she would seek to abolish the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for all essential goods, help reduce the cost of living and strive to introduce a minimum wage system for Singapore. Her concerns were echoed by the SDP’s Dr Vincent Wijeysingha, who also called for a reduction in classroom size. “Let us bring new ways of educating our children in smaller classrooms so that they become the creative and innovative people of tomorrow,” he said.