The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Does Singapore value diversity?

Singapore considers itself a multiracial society - and, to a degree, this is true. There are Chinese, Malay and Indian Singaporeans - and a smidgeon of others. So small is that smidgeon that the first three groups account for almost everyone. Therefore, although multiracial in the sense of being of more than one race, it is not as diverse as many Western cities - indeed, by the standards of, say, London, it is not diverse at all.

Yet, it considers itself multiracial. It also considers itself well "integrated" - with the three races co-existing relatively harmoniously. However, there is something which is very clear when one reads the local newspapers: the word, "foreigner" appears an awful lot. There is a common concern here about the presence of foreigners. The underlying worry appears to be about competition: that the "foreigners" will somehow take their jobs, or even partners away from them. It is very strange, in a way, for without these "foreigners" that are written of, so often, Singapore would not be the successful city-state that it is. Many of these foreigners are of a high-calibre and occupy senior positions in many organizations. They are brought in precisely because they can add to the local economy in a very real sense. From the way the articles are written, however, it is clear that not everyone appreciates their presence.

A recent series of articles is a case in point. The issue of how many foreign students were admitted annually into Singapore's Universities was raised in Parliament, here. The motive for raising it seemed to be backed by the view that there are far too many of them - and that it should be controlled. One got the impression that those who raised the issue would rather that there weren't any foreign students at all.

The ostensible grounds for putting the question to Parliament, was a concern that the foreign students were depriving Singaporeans of University places and would crowd out the locals from achieving a tertiary education.

It transpired that over 4,000 foreign students a year, were admitted to Singaporean Universities, set against the over 20,000 places, per year, in those Universities (as far as I can recall). Thus, foreigners made up one in five student places, here.

Apparently, many Singaporeans thought this was rather too many. When they consider the situation, they see 4,000 places that could have gone to Singaporeans. What they don't see is 4,000 diverse individuals from all the world, bringing an intellectual freshness and vitality to Singaporean Universities that they would otherwise lack.

Many people here simply don't understand the richness that arrives on their shores, in the shape of foreign visitors, whether they be workers, students or tourists. It is these visitors who bring new perpectives and understandings to Singapore. Without them, this city would be much the lesser. Without the freshness they bring, this island would not be the prosperous place it is.

The common man, here, frequently does not see or understand this issue. They don't realize that without diversity and the influx of ideas and understandings that it brings, Singapore would be much the lesser, in every way.

I look at the statistic of one in five University students being from elsewhere - and think: too few. Many here see the same number and think: too many.

Foreigners can read newspapers, too. No doubt many of those 4,000 foreign University students are now aware that they are not truly welcomed by many here. I wonder how many fewer will subsequently choose to settle here, and make Singapore their home?

(If you would like to read of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and eight months, and his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and one month, or Tiarnan, eighteen months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 12:16 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have no objection to foreigners studying in Singapore. I do object to their studying in Singapore on Singaporean taxpayers' money. If taxpayers do not wish to subsidise the education of foreigners, then the government should not use their taxes for such purposes. No other country subsidises the tertiary education of foreigners to such an extent.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your perspective.

I don't have the data to hand at this moment - but I shall seek it out (or perhaps you can furnish it).

Are these subsidized foreigners bonded? (See the following post). Do they have to serve time in a Government job after graduation? If so, there is no reason to worry about them being subsidized. In such a circumstance, the true subsidy would come from them.

I would like further information on the situation if you have it.

Best wishes.

6:56 PM  

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