Dear Justice CS Dharmadhikari,
We, GIIS Singapore parents, are thankful and glad to have this opportunity to engage you in constructive dialog for the betterment of the institution.
This open letter is in response to your letter titled 'fake parent emails and blogs' received by GIIS parents through myGIIS (18/4/2008).
[Full text of the said letter is included at the end of this article. -Ed]
1. "Everything is fine at all GIIS Schools including the Singapore Schools."
It is unfortunate that students, teachers and parents seem to know the real condition of the schools much better than you do. Everything is not fine. If you are in command, Sir, this is a golden opportunity to act now to save the ship and all of us together. The time for denials has long passed us by. As co-passengers of this ship, we implore you to accept this reality and act on it.
You would recognize the importance of the principle of 'audi alterum partem' (hear the other party) in justice. So, please do hear us out, before you decree that everything is already perfect.
2. "..GIIS is the largest...surpassing the American School..."
However: a comparison based on number of students does not comfort us parents in any way - not any longer. At this juncture, we badly want to see quality, not more quantity.
Let us also analyze the admitted fact. In Singapore, the number of Indian expat/NRI children far exceeds the number of American (and other) children who prefer SAS. So, irrespective of quality, the enrollment will only be lower at the American School, for no fault of theirs ! If GIIS/GIF were to claim credit for these statistics, we would all become laughing stock in no time.
3. "GIIS Parents are very happy and so are the teachers and staff."
Parents, "very happy" ? No ! (But, do we count ?)
[There are certain things we are happy about, but then there are certain other things we are unhappy about ! You can't choose one set of things and throw out the other. We do have parents who are willing to let 'chalta hai' be for various reasons. Some of us are truly happy to see the lighter volume of homework compared to MOE schools. Some are moderately happy with cruising on, as long as there is no major upsets to the schooling routine. Some are happy in the belief that the "non-profit" (or even "Bhavan's") school will do the right thing. But this belief has taken a beating. Some among us are really happy with the continuity provided, until we retun home to India upon completion of 1 or 2 year assignment in Singapore. Some may appear happy, as they do not want to speak up for fear of being targetted. This is the composition of the "relatively happy" crowd among us. All things considered, in my opinion, we rarely ever claim to be "very happy". - Parent #3 ]
We know for a fact that quite a few teachers who are overworked and/or underpaid are not exactly "very happy".
Let us re-connect with the reality of the school and feel the pulse on the ground. It is not sufficient to look at the enrollment numbers and feel "very happy".
4. "Recently ....alerted us to a blog which claims to have been written by GIIS parents. We have examined the blog and.... have association with competing Schools in Singapore".
This is a confusing statement. This blog (forabettergiis.blogspot.com) is in no way a recent blog that has only now come to the notice of the school.
(If you are referring to some other blog, please clarify and provide us the specific website address).
This blog is in existence since October 2007 (Look at our first article). About five months ago, a GIIS Announcement issued in Nov 2007 signed by SMC, GIIS, referred to this blog. We have been noticed and tracked (but not responded to!) and we are not a recent entrant.
We are glad to clarify that the authors of this blog are not associated with any "competing schools" in any way, with the following exceptional situations which we can explain:
i) GIIS Malaysia: We provide moral support to the GIIS Malaysia Parents Forum as their issues are similar to ours.
ii) MOE Schools, "Rival" Indian schools: We have had some GIIS parents who had been active in this forum in the past and have since then decided to withdraw from GIIS (following inconclusive meetings with the school on the subject of the fee hike). We do confirm that some of them have moved either to MOE schools or to one of the "competing" Indian schools. We did not ever encourage them to leave GIIS, nor did we ever suggest these alternatives. In fact, their departure is a loss to our cause. (Their primary issues were quality of teaching and long standing transport problems, made worse by the fee hike). We are in no way "associated" with MOE schools or the rival Indian schools, beyond what is mentioned above.
iii) Private Tutors: For the benefit of our our CBSE French students, we have had guest articles by a French tutor . We have no association, commercial or otherwise, with them or with any other private tutors.
iv) ACS(I) etc: We have had articles discussing the IB results of ACS(I), the Bhavans and NPS of Bangalore, etc. This is not due to any association with any of them.
We will continue to discuss education issues and compare with other schools where necessary.
None of the above is to be construed as being "associated" with other schools.
All our blog authors have signed the Rules of Conduct and abide by it.
Your allegation is baseless and false. Please go through every article on this blog, and you will be convinced.
5. "The blog contains many deliberately misrepresented facts and figures as well as fudged documents."
Let us pin-point the specifics. The main facts/figures/documents on this blog are three:
i) The Audited Annual Report of 2005, signed by the Auditor. Authentic to the best of our knowledge.
ii) Accounts figures for 2006. The major items we have published match up, with SLA (Singapore's Land Authority) numbers, estimates of tuition and bus fees etc. Verified to the best of our knowledge and ability.
iii). Bhavan's letter of termination, sent to GIEF. Kindly authenticated by the Additional Registrar of the Bhavan upon our request (email record available with us).
It will help to convince parents, if you could, instead, publish the "true" figures and "true" documents.
6. "The information ... could not have been available ...to any parent and could have been available only to a GIIS senior employee"
Not true. The information we have analysed has been available on the internet and has been available to any interested parent (Two websites given in article). In any case, audited accounts, such as those we have examined, are not meant to be kept as internal secret documents, and are to be shared both internally and externally - thus essentially voiding the claim.
The information GIF has been with-holding, which includes these Audited Annual Reports and important communications from Bhavan's HQ, are of vital interest and importance to parents. Having been funded by parents' hard earned money, GIF could have taken these disclosure obligations more seriously. GIF should publish accurate and comprehensive information in an authentic and timely manner. Since parents as sponsors have a natural right to such important information, in what way can your with-holding of it be justified ? Why should such information be available only to "senior GIIS employees" and GIF top brass ? How do you explain the need for secrecy in a "non-profit charity" ? How do you explain the need for secrecy towards donors, in particular ?
Drawing inspiration from the architects of the Indian RTI, we demand that:
"Disclosure of information should be the rule, and secrecy the exception".
7. "It appears that the blog is edited by a former senior employee of GIIS who had to leave the School..."
No. The former GIIS QT Principal cum GIF Director (Academics) is not editing this blog. We are fairly good at it ourselves.
Your fears, even if they are justifiable, are most unfounded when misplaced on us, parents working for the betterment of the school.
We do not need, nor solicit, nor accept any editing help from anybody other than parents who have signed up after accepting the Rules of Conduct.
[We welcome contributions to the blog, including opinions and views that differ from ours. We continue to welcome GIIS teachers and GIF members to contribute to the blog (subject to their own constraints and obtaining necessary aprovals if any). -Ed]
8. "The blog was started in Feb 08 to confuse the GIIS parents..."
This blog was started by parents in Oct '07 for the betterment of GIIS. (See our first article, Oct '07).
Please do not worry about GIIS parents, our parents are not easily confused. What they lack is access to accurate information. Remedial measures for that are as in (6) above.
[Our search did not find any other blog on GIIS Singapore. -Ed]
9. "... I would appreciate, if you could forward the same to me, so that I will be able to explain everything in detail, if necessary."
Yes, we really appreciate this offer and are glad to accept it with thanks. And indeed, it is necessary to discuss and explain. We are glad to invite you to kindly sign up with our blog so that, together, we may address various parents' concerns raised in this forum. (Writing a blog article or a comment is quite comparable to writing e-mail, in terms of effort/skills needed).
Secondly, please note that we, as parents, have no means of contacting you. Your contact information has not been shared to us by GIF/GIIS.
Please send us your contact details (e-mail/FAX/postal), privately through myGIIS so that all parents can receive it and get in touch with you if necessary.
Meanwhile, we would like you to become familiar with the main issues raised in this blog, by following the links provided below:
1. Surveys and Results
4. "Questions Not Asked"
Dear Sir, we are not fake people to be ignored. We are real, live people with real children whose educational needs have brought us to GIIS. We really believed all the promises of GIIS and GIF and have supported it with real money, hard-earned by the sweat of our brows. Haven't we supported GIF and all its expenses ? We have entrusted our children's future with GIIS. If you summarily dismiss us as fakes, without hearing any of our grievances, you would only have passed a prejudicial judgement - one which fails the jurists' dictum of 'audi alterum partem'.
With some openness, and incorporating some of the truly well-intentioned suggestions given by parents in this forum and elsewhere, GIIS can really become an exemplary institution with a bright future. Let us make that our goal.
We look forward to your response and participation in continued dialog.
GIIS Parents @blog
[We thank all parents who have contributed ideas, words, effort, time and moral support in preparing the above open letter].
REQUEST to all commentators: Please be civil and avoid any personal attacks.
Appendix: Letter dated 18/4/2008 from Justice CS Dharmadhikari.
From : GIIS Announcement
Date : 18/4/2008 [dd/mm/yyyy]
Subject : fake parent emails and blogs
From: Justice CS Dharmadhikari
Dear GIIS Team,
Everything is fine at all GIIS Schools including the Singapore Schools. Progress is happening
on all fronts. The entire team is doing very well under the leadership of our esteemed
Principals and Directors. As you probably know, GIIS Singapore is the largest international
school surpassing the American School in terms of student enrollments, with 3900 students
across all 3 campuses. I am sure you keep getting the other good news via emails
GIIS Parents are very happy and so are the teachers and staff.
However, it is reported to me that, some of us have been receiving emails from so called
GIIS parents which are fake and fabricated. Recently our parents have also alerted us to a
blog which claims to have been written by GIIS parents. We have examined the blog and
would like to inform you that without a doubt, it is part of a larger conspiracy against GIIS by
outsiders or people who have association with schools competing with GIIS in Singapore.
The blog contains many deliberately misrepresented facts and figures as well as fudged
documents. The information presented clearly could not have been available publicly to any
parent and could have been available only to a GIIS senior employee. It appears that the blog
is edited by a former senior employee of GIIS who had to leave the School and happens to
be now working for the competition. The blog was started in Feb 08 to confuse the GIIS
parents and force them to move their children to these competing schools.
I humbly request you to ignore these emails and the fake parent blogs. If you have received
any such emails, I would appreciate, if you could forward the same to me, so that I will be
able to explain everything in detail, if necessary.
I am very much thankful to you for your kind support and co-operation in running the
Schools, established by our Foundation. Your continued support is our strength and wealth,
which I propose to preserve, in all humility and with gratitude.
With Warmest Regards,
Justice C. S. Dharmadhikari,
Vice President, Global Indian Foundation