Reasonable to differentiate school fees

I disagree with Ms Wong Ting Yean's views ("Reasons to reconsider school fee hike"; yesterday).

First, education in Singapore is highly subsidised by the Singapore Government, which, in turn, draws its revenue from resident taxpayers here. So why should taxpayers here subsidise the cost of education for Ms Wong's sons who are not Singapore citizens?

Second, all Singaporean boys are required to do national service, something that Ms Wong's boys would not have to do if they choose not to take up Singapore citizenship when they reach enlistment age.

It is a well-known fact in the US that Singapore schools do well in providing high-quality education.

Moreover, the revised Ministry of Education school fees are still very reasonable and affordable if we were to compare them with

the fees that international schools in Singapore are charging their primary and secondary-level students ("Fee hike for international students and PRs attending local schools"; Oct 1).

The Singapore Government also gives out hundreds of education scholarships and grants to foreign students to study in Singapore.

However, these grants come with a catch: The foreign students will have to work in Singapore for a few years after they finish their studies, to contribute back to Singapore's economy.

Returning Singaporeans with foreign-born spouses are no different from local Singaporeans who marry foreign spouses.

They, too, will have to pay the same school fees that Ms Wong is paying for her sons if they choose not to take up Singapore citizenship for their children.

So, if Ms Wong would like to enjoy the benefits that come with citizenship, she will have to make a choice for her sons. She can't have her cake and eat it at the same time.

Daniel Oon Ban Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2015, with the headline 'Reasonable to differentiate school fees'. Print Edition | Subscribe