What kind of nonsense is this? The year is 1956, you're an American in a God-forsaken corner of Southeast Asia, and you expect the US government to help you set up a school for American kids here?April 12, 2006
American school a lesson in self-help
MM Lee pays tribute to can-do spirit of US expatriates who set up own school 50 years ago
By Leslie Koh
WHEN American residents came here to work in the 1950s and wanted to educate their children, they set up their own school.
But when Singaporeans went abroad to work many years later, they looked to the Government at home to set up schools for their children overseas.
That difference was a lesson to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who yesterday praised Americans for their culture of self-help that led to the setting up of the Singapore American School (SAS) here.
'Singaporeans must learn to emulate this American can-do spirit,' he said to 800 people gathered for the 50th anniversary of the school in Woodlands.
'It's your cultural forte, it has made you great entrepreneurs with the verve, vitality and vigour to keep adapting and changing your businesses.'
Set up in 1956 by American businessmen and their spouses, the school started out with just 105 students and 10 teachers in a seven-bedroom colonial house in Tanglin.
By the time you write a letter to the US government about it and the postal service delivers the letter by sea mail to the US government, it'd probably be 1958. By the time you receive their reply, it'd probably be 1960.
Assuming that none of the letters get lost along the way. And that the ships don't sink or get hijacked by pirates in the Straits of Malacca.
So if you're an American here in Singapore in 1956, of course you'd have to set up a school yourself. I mean, SURELY you wouldn't send your American kids to a local school and mingle with the shoeless Asian kids, would you? It's 1956, mind you. Asians are dirt. Their gods are pagan. Beware of Maria Hertogh. Better just build your own school.
Now, as for Singaporeans going overseas these days - of course things are different. Why SHOULDN'T you expect the Singapore government to help you set up a Singapore-style school overseas? After all, you pay the government ministers the world's highest ministerial salaries.
Besides, if you were still in Singapore, the government WOULDN'T allow you to send your kids to any of the international schools. No, no, no, they would make it compulsory for you to send your kids to attend a Singapore school. So that your child can be subject to their National Education, their bilingual policy etc etc.
Since a Singapore-style education, with syllabi and content and policies all controlled and set by the Ministry of Education, is oh so very, very, VERY important - why shouldn't overseas Singaporeans expect MOE to help set up a Singapore-style school overseas? Surely you can't expect an overseas Singapore kid to attend a real British / US / Australian school. Why, they might actually become creative and absorb deviant ideas like democracy and freedom.