Fri 9th Nov 2018


Knowledge is success

According to Ngiam Tong Dow's forty-year experience as a senior Singapore civil servant from 1959, what lies behind Singapore's spectacular achievements from 1959 onward is Singapore's relentless pursuit of knowledge as the critical lever for development. Singapore is the forerunner of knowledge-based economies in this new millennium.

In contrast, in SVG, the ULP regime has a relentless pursuit of begging. The difference in the two countries’ strategy and policy is stark.

The period in Singapore from 1959 to 1979 was called "survival-driven education". Singapore was faced with a growing population and a growing unemployment rate. It shifted towards an export-oriented industrialisation. Education thus shifted towards an industrialisation-oriented mode, with a greater focus on university, and technical and vocational education.

The period in SVG from to 2001 to 2018 can be called ‘begging, high poverty and high unemployment’. SVG has a growing population and enormously high poverty and unemployment rates. Our economy has gone down severely and investment in education – our children – has decreased dramatically.

In its first 9 years of self-rule, Singapore spent an average of 23.34% of its national budget on education, amounts increasing from $S60 million in 1959 to $S135 million in 1967. They knew they had to educate the people to achieve economic success. They knew that knowledge means success.

In contrast, from 2001 to 2018, the ULP regime has been starving our children of proper investment in education and schools. The table shows that ULP regime Capital Expenditure on education for this period has been an average of 3.87% of the national budget.

ULP Capital Expenditure on Education 2001 to 2018
(Source SVG Budget Estimates 2001 – 2018; Research by Ivan O’Neal)

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA very strongly contends that the ULP regime’s Capital Expenditure on education for 2001 to 2018 is shockingly low and a gross insult to the children and families of SVG. We must invest hundreds of millions of dollars more in to our children’s education.

When addressing CARICOM leaders in 2015, President Barack Obama said ‘if you look at some of the most successful countries in the world, they are actually pretty small countries like Singapore – for example. On paper, it looks like they have no assets and yet, if you go to Singapore, it has one of the highest standards of living in the world. What it is that Singapore did that might be replicable? One of the most important things they did is that they made a massive investment in their people and, if you have got a highly skilled [and] highly educated workforce – if you set up rules of law and governance that are transparent and non-corrupt, then you can attract actually a lot of service industries…’.

SVG is a small country. Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA has been saying for over 15 years that the most important things we need to do is make massive investments in our people, so that we have a highly skilled and highly educated workforce; and we need better rules of law and governance that are transparent and non-corrupt.

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons) MSc, MBA lived in Singapore with his wife and three children from 1963 to 1965 and believes that high investment in education in SVG will attract a lot of service industries and foreign investment. This will then create mass employment and hugely reduce crime and poverty in SVG.

Knowledge is the critical lever for development in SVG. Knowledge is success.

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