School fee hike may have divisive implications

I was deeply disheartened to read of the move to increase school fees for permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners attending local primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges and centralised institutes ("Fee hike for international students and PRs attending local schools"; Oct 1).

There appears to be no functional reason for this increase other than to "further differentiate fees by citizenship". For instance, the Ministry of Education has not suggested that it has become more expensive to provide places in schools for non-citizens.

We are led to conclude that this is simply about making life harder and more expensive for PRs and foreigners - some of whom will struggle tremendously to cope with such high fees.

Perhaps the move seeks to placate Singaporeans who believe that punishing foreigners somehow makes their own citizenship more valuable.

If so, this is a mistaken view.

While some disgruntled citizens may gain fleeting spiteful satisfaction from this move, it does nothing to improve the material conditions of their own lives.

PRs and foreigners in Singapore contribute to and enrich society in many ways, including paying taxes that help fund state education.

The latest move affects access to education, which is a fundamental right of all children. I urge the Government to rethink this status-based policy, as it has potentially divisive implications.

Jolene Tan Siyu (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'School fee hike may have divisive implications'. Print Edition | Subscribe