Updated: 03/04/2014 00:52

Free education to make society a fair, equitable one

Free education to make society a fair, equitable one

Nominated MP Laurence Lien has asked the government to provide free education for Singaporeans between the ages of 3 to 18 as part of its efforts to create a fair and equitable society. 

"Primary and secondary education is essentially free in Singapore. Pre-school education is receiving substantially more subsidies. Can we not simply guarantee free basic education for all between 3 to 18 years? For pre-school, a universal voucher can be provided to all children, set at the median fees charged by all operators."

Mr Lien says for tertiary education, fees can be chargeable in the form of a loan where the repayment is a proportion of what the graduate actually earns in the workforce. 

He suggests those going into lower paid professions, like in the non-profit sector, receive loan forgiveness if they are unable to make full payment at the end of their loan tenure. 

MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol Janil Puthucheary took issue with the suggestions. 

He says free education places a high burden on society. 

Free education is not free, it's very very expensive. To the society as a whole. To those societies that deliver a free education there is a very high taxation burden and it drives behaviour for individuals to seek private education and the access to opportunities differentiates across income spectrum. What is the outcome? The outcome we need is equality of opportunity for all and free education, will it improve the equality of opportunity by giving similar access to everybody?"

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