Sm1 Scholarship Essay

Someone gave me a link to a Singapore Government website named Singapore Education (note the gov.sg). The website’s About page says the following

What we do

As the marketing and promotion arm for Singapore Education, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) assumes the responsibility of attracting international students to Singapore. The STB works very closely with Singapore education institutions and education agents to reach out to potential international students through a range of promotional platforms, including roadshows, education fairs, education talks and PR and advertising. STB’s efforts are focused on:

  1. building international brand recognition for Singapore as a provider of quality education;
  2. providing platforms for our institutions to reach out to their target audiences;
  3. building credible marketing and information channels so that potential students have access to reliable information; and
  4. ensuring that international students have an enriching learning (and living) experience in Singapore so that they in turn can be valued ambassadors for Singapore.

So it seems the Singapore Tourism Board for some reason is tasked with enticing foreign students to study in Singapore, partly by offering them scholarships.

What’s particular disturbing was this particular page where a list of scholarships are offered to foreign students. The Nationality of Applicants states which ones are. But some of them are ambiguous, so I went to Google them to find out explicitly  which scholarships are open to whom. Of the 28 scholarships displayed, it appeared that only 15 of them are open to Singapore citizens as well.

Note that all 28 scholarships are open to non-Singaporeans.

Perhaps the greatest irony above is that the scholarship named after the father of Singapore’s economy, Dr Goh Keng Swee is open only to non-Singaporeans. Singaporeans, it seems, are not welcome to take up a scholarship in his name.

In addition to the above, there’s an additional scholarship program offered by something known as the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP). It is open only to citizens of ASEAN excluding Singapore:

Citizens of ASEAN member countries (except Singapore) are eligible to apply for the Singapore Scholarship.

Candidates must have an outstanding academic record, a good command of English and meet the entry requirements for NTU, NUS and SMU.

The best part about the SCP scholarship? There’s no bond or loan attached. Foreign graduates may return to their home countries upon graduation:

Q: What does the Singapore Scholarship cover?

A: The Singapore Scholarship covers full tuition fees, living allowance of S$4,300 per annum and accommodation fee based on the room rates at each university during the school semester. One economy class air ticket from scholar’s home country to Singapore at the commencement of their undergraduate course and one economy class air ticket from Singapore to their home country upon successful completion of their undergraduate course. No further financial assistance will be provided for other travel expenses as well as any additional expenses/fees incurred during the Overseas’ Exchange Programme, Overseas’ Attachments or Summer Courses taken up by the scholars with their respective universities.

Q: What is the difference between this Award and other Scholarships Scheme?

A: Under the Singapore Scholarship, the Singapore Government will not impose any bond on the scholars. However, all scholars are expected to return home at the end of their studies in Singapore to contribute to the development of their country. This is different from other undergraduate scholarship schemes, where the graduating students would be obliged to work in Singapore for certain period of time to repay the tuition grant from the Singapore Government. In the case of the Singapore Scholarship, the Singapore Cooperation Programme is sponsoring by paying the full tuition fees for these ASEAN scholars who therefore do not need to apply for the tuition grant with the universities.

Why are Singaporeans shut out and excluded from such scholarships? Why is the Singapore Government actively promoting Singapore as an education hub to the extent of excluding Singaporean citizens from just under half of all those scholarships listed above? Why do they allow such discrimination against Singaporeans?

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