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Posts Tagged ‘penalising

I read an opinion piece about how we have stumbled on our journey to go cashless.

We are still penalised when we do electronic payments of cinema tickets, cab rides, automatically topping up your travel card by GIRO or credit card, etc. These things that an ordinary resident here does.

On the flip side, we are not rewarded for going paperless with our receipts, bills, bank statements, air tickets, etc. So we help a provider save on costs, but are expected to pay for progressive changes to basic services.

The writer mentioned an oft cited example of how we have been overtaken by places in China where residents pay with their mobile phones and chat services. I visited Denmark and Sweden a few years ago and noticed how cashless those places were too. If I went cashless as much as they did, I would have been penalised with card fees and currency conversion rates.

People might point out the need for providers of services and products to recoup costs of e-payment measures. I disagree. These should be part of the service, not a good-to-have extra.

Look at it this way: Do we need to pay extra for a smile, greeting, or an otherwise better quality of basic service? By not changing outdated mindsets and old practices, the providers are impeding change.

This inertia is not to be taken lightly. The writer of the article described how the inertia can last decades:

Nets, the first cashless payment network in Singapore used by retailers, was launched in 1985 — 32 years ago. At that time, I believe Singapore was among the very early adopters of such forms of payments.

Despite the very early lead, we are nowhere close to becoming a cashless society.

I see a parallel in schooling and education. Creative and innovative educators are held back or even penalised for their efforts. They might not be recognised for their risk-taking because appraisals do not have those measures. They might be overloaded with teaching duties because they are good at what they do.

While e-payment barriers might be explained superficially by the need to make money, there are deeper reasons like underlying mindsets and behaviours. Likewise the barriers in schooling and education to progress as enabled by emerging technology is a numbers-first mindset, stubborn administrative policies, outdated or infrequently updated curricula, and cruel testing regimes.

With enough investigation and reflection, the barriers to necessary and progressive forms of change are easy enough to uncover. Sadly, the e-payment barriers are easier to address than the ones in education. Anything to do with the economy hits our individual and collective pockets, and we feel the pain and urgency.

If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children. -- Confucius

Schooling and education is the long tail of social endeavour. People might not pay as much attention to it if its impact is not as immediate. We need to first recognise that we are collectively myopic. Then only can we prescribe corrective lenses to examine ourselves clearly and critically.


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