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Posts Tagged ‘singapore

The debate on whether Singapore teachers should get to park their cars for “free” while they are at work refuses to go away.

Some might say that the arguments are pointless because the Auditor General’s Office (AGO) has already determined that teachers must pay for parking. However, the prime issue is not about free parking, but about how such decisions are made.

A Member of Parliament (MP) critiqued the approach of implementing policy from an economic lens and urged “a conversation about reciprocity, trust, and relationships” instead [edited version of MP’s speech].

We need to insert and steer our values into the national conversation about prosperity and growth. We need to balance the economic reasoning with moral reasoning. We need to make what is cheap, efficient, and quick to what is fair, just, and right.

— Seah Kian Peng

The critique was countered in a parliamentary reply that included how the Ministry of Education had been transparent and consultative. I am not commenting on that claim because I do not wish to turn healthy skepticism into unreasonable cynicism.

I actually do not like how dependent we still are on cars. I expressed this conviction when I cycled to school when I was a teacher and took the bus to campus when I was a professor. I still take bus 11 (walk, bike), and rely on the bus and train now. So I do not really have a stake the parking issue.

I do, however, have a stake in the mindsets and well-being of our teachers and educators. I still operate as a teacher educator and I have long observed that pedagogical issues are not compartmentalised from economic ones.

The crux of the “clean wage” argument seems to be one of transparency — you should not get benefits that others in the civil service do not enjoy.

But teachers are civil servants like no other. Teachers do not submit claims for stationery that schools do not provide. Nor do they ask for compensation for treats they might provide students when both they and their students go the extra mile.

Speaking of which, how many civil servants claim lost family time, weekends, and vacation time because they have to:

  • make corrections on work they have to bring home?
  • plan for lessons before the work week?
  • chaperone kids for training, performances, or overseas trips?

If we cannot abide by having hidden benefits, how can we accept hidden costs?

Furthermore, some things cannot be compartmentalised, quantified, and paid for like parking spaces. Teachers give because they tend to be nurturing. Can we not take better care of them in return?

Viewed through an economic lens, a wage looks unclean if a teacher gets free parking. But viewed with a moral filter, slapping fees on such civil servants who already give so much and do not complain about now having to also pay for parking is filthy.

Singapore TV was supposed to go entirely digital at the end of 2017, but there were so many holdouts that the move was pushed to the end of 2018.

So the relevant authorities created an outreach programme to get more households on the digital TV bandwagon.

Mine was one of the 400,000 or so households to benefit from the voucher to either pay for a set top box plus antenna, or to offset the purchase of a digital signal TV.

Letter and voucher for digital TV.

I had no plans to get either. I had cancelled cable TV a while ago as no one in my household watches local broadcast and subscription TV. We only watch Internet-enabled shows — YouTube, Netflix, Prime, etc.

The only broadcast TV I watch is on National Day. Even then, I rely on Toggle or ‘live’ streams.

We are certainly not “digital natives” (ugh, a reference on my pet peeve list) nor are we “millennials” (that would have made my list if it was closely linked to and misused in education).

I am grateful for the voucher. I only wish it arrived earlier. That way I would not have bought my parents a new digital-ready TV and antenna last year. But since they have a second TV that is analogue, this will save me some money.

It is obvious who this move targets and benefits. The letter and voucher arrived by snail mail with offers for free delivery and installation. The target audience would need the help of their adult children to go online to make this arrangement.

The move seems to be piecemeal one. This is like patching the cracks on a wall instead of tearing the wall down and replacing it with something else.

This patch might seem to make sense now. It buys time for broadcast TV to stay relevant. This is like how newspapers and magazines ensure paper survival with pressure tactics applied to various organisations. Walk into most waiting rooms to see what I mean.

This helps the incumbents to stay rooted in the past and change agents to use the excuse that the process needs to be slow and painless.

What happens when we need to go fully digital? Will there be another round of handouts? What does this say about our capacity for change?

… or do as I do?

That was my reaction when I read this article in STonline about a local school restricting mobile gaming from 7am to 2pm.

Before I explain my reaction, I should point out that the newspaper article was a report of a report. There could be information loss from translation and there definitely was selective reporting of another report. That said, I have to work only with the information at hand.

Draconian measures by HCI on mobile gaming.

The crux of the matter is this: Students cannot use their own devices for mobile games right before school starts and during breaks.

Sometimes it is logical for students to be held to different standards. Other times it is not. For example, there are dress codes for students’ uniforms and their general appearances that teachers are not subject to.

Some would argue that the adults have matured to the point of understanding socially accepted standards of decency so that they know how to dress professionally.

If you believe that, you have not sampled enough adults. That is why we have dress codes everywhere, even at a beach.

So if standards and codes of conduct are the norm, what is wrong with a partial ban on mobile gaming?

Consider this: How would you like to be told that you cannot check your Facebook feed on your commute to work because you need to psyche yourself up for work?

Or how you like to be told that you cannot nap, gossip, or surf down rabbit holes during your lunch break?

Yes, both the students and teachers are at school and schools are walled gardens separate from the real world. So what happened to bringing the real world in?

Some teachers I know do not draw that line. I know adults who are just as guilty of walking distractedly or being overly engaged with their phones. What gives these adults the right to say “do as I say and not as I do?”

As for the adults who say “do as I say because I do not do what you do”, I ask: Just how real world is that? How (dis)connected are you?

This reflection has been brought to you by the medieval workshop of Draconian Measures.

 
About a week ago, I received an email from the Public Lead of Creative Commons (CC) Singapore.

The email was in part a thank-you and a notification. I have been involved in CC-SG’s efforts by helping out in an event, promoting it in my former workplace, and creating edu-works shared under CC. So I appreciated the word of thanks.

However, there was some bad news. How else might you interpret “the current CC-SG team has been voluntarily dissolved”?

The email came with a longer explanation as to why the CC-SG team was going away. The details are in this blog entry, Invitation to Join CC Global Network; Notice of Termination of MOU or Affiliate Agreement.

The short version is that the overall restructuring of CC internationally necessitated the dissolution of the CC-SG team. There move seems aligned to a trend I noticed over the last few years — the removal of country-specific CC licenses.

This document points to a Creative Commons Global Network (CCGN), but I am not sure if this negates the need for country-specific teams.

The reorganisation of CC is in transition in 2018 and I do not know when the dust will settle. The six different CC licenses remain valid and operate as they always have.

I wonder (and worry) about who takes the lead locally and who interested parties here might connect with to learn more about CC. I do not think we have a critical mass or enough momentum in terms of CC here.

I recall being asked to provide advice for an event about open and CC licenses not too long ago. Back then I simply connected two groups of people.

There are two Cs in CC. For now, it seems odd that one C is missing with the dissolution of the local chapter.

 
I am happy that the electricity market here is open to multiple providers and that my neighbourhood is the first to trial the switch.

I am unhappy that the new providers seem to have either no strategy or just one approach to selling their service.

Based on what I have seen in roadshows and two items left in my mailbox and doorstep, the single approach seems to be “Save money!” or “Get money back!”.

Save $500 on electricity.

Cash rebate on electricity.

It is as if only dollars make sense to consumers. They do, of course, but that is not the only reason to switch electricity providers. It should not.

Last year I read about a local solar energy group that is joining the fray. Apparently, it already has big players like the Housing and Development Board and Apple, Asia Pacific, as clients.

Where is their outreach? What is their message? I am already sold on relying on solar-to-electric energy, but I want to know HOW to make the switch.

My guess is that I am also the minority. The “save your money” message appeals to a larger base; the “save our planet” resonates less. But this only makes it even more important that the solar-to-electric source provider spreads its message.

Please, shed some light on the WHY and HOW of switching to a cleaner and renewable energy source. The conventional message might save consumers some dollars, but the alternative is priceless.

The modern library is not just a place, it is a space. It is not just a place to borrow or read books, it is a space to expand your horizons.

Abandoned property and loud phone use in a local library.

Unfortunately, some people do the unexpected or the unacceptable. Modern libraries in Singapore, particularly those in the heartlands, are also spaces for:

  • Child daycare and playgrounds
  • Denture display AKA public napping
  • Using wifi to watch YouTube or video conference sans ear/headphones
  • Taking advantage of air-conditioning to engage in coffeeshop talk sans coffeeshop heat
  • Talking loudly on the phone
  • Displaying, abandoning, or donating private property

If libraries are microcosms of society, it seems to attract and concentrate the irresponsible and the selfish. They are not the majority, but they make a disproportionately large show of force. Please do not judge the rest of us by those examples.


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