JC student’s comments on school facilities spark buzz

Xavier Lur
SingaporeScene

A Junior College student is in the spotlight for making a controversial comment on the disparity in expenditure of campus facilities between Junior Colleges (JC) and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

17-year-old student Kwek Jian Qiang from Temasek JC pointed out in a letter to TODAY that "there are significant disparities in the quality of learning environments", and that "our brightest students should get the best facilities in order to excel and grow".

He cited examples of the facilities he saw when he was attending a seminar at ITE College East.

"The interior was like a plush hotel: Sleek floors, plush lecture theatre chairs, high-quality tables - quality exceeding that found in our polytechnics and junior colleges," he told the paper. From the exterior, with an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a stadium stand, it looked like it was made for the Youth Olympics."

The facilities at Anderson JC and Victoria JC, on the other hand, pale in comparison, he noted.

His comments brought about mixed responses from netizens on forums and social networking sites, but largely negative.

A mathematics teacher from Hai Sing Catholic School, who declined to be named, told Yahoo! Singapore that Kwek Jian Qiang has not much awareness about the trend of our education, particularly of the tertiary category, because the paradigms in our education sector since 2006 have already shifted elsewhere.

"More students today are opting for skill-based education, as compared to academic-based education in preparation for universities. ITE and polytechnics are equipped with higher quality facilities to allow students to better hone the necessary skills needed for their career," she said.

"Jian Qiang needs to realise that the Singapore government has to take into account the education preferences and options in our current situation, and the last thing any government wants is to create a disparity between the income and education levels of citizens and to create a rather elitist society at the expense of the middle-class," she added.

Former ITE student Shawn Lim, 20, said that ITE campuses need newer and more advanced facilities to more effectively impart skills to students.

18-year-old JC student Stephanie Loo said that while the writer may be right in pointing out the disparity in the quality of infrastructures of the various institutions, what he failed to realise is that, the newer campuses, like ITE Simei, were upgraded in the recent years, and that the other polytechnics and JCs are just waiting for their turn.

Mohsin Ahamed, however, agrees with the writer of the letter. "I think there should be equality. Everyone deserves the same type of good facilities, regardless you are from JC, polytechnics, or ITE," he said.

For the past years, most of the expenditure spent on upgrades of facilities in Serangoon JC come from its annual fundraising instead of its relatively small pool of funding from the Ministry of Education, according to students from the school.

One netizen named Belinda Fong told Yahoo! Singapore that some Anderson JC students are often spotted patronising the canteen at Nanyang Polytechnic, which "sells better food and is air-conditioned".

UPDATE:

In a post he published on Facebook, he sincerely apologised for his words, saying he was too naive, biased and too consumed by materialism.

"It was due to my jealousy and materialism that in my mind, I only saw the shiny buildings and all I could do is moan of why I cannot get to enjoy studying in such facilities, I was wrong," he wrote.

"With such an incorrect mentality unchecked, I had incorrect stereotypes. As such, I'll like to sincerely apologise for any insult or anger that anyone felt regarding what I have written," he added.