Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Removal of the Transport Issues Page

[Update 1/2/2008: We have now restored the Transport Issues page. -Ed].

The "Transport Issues" page had to be taken down due to somebody using abusive language on it, on a comment posted earlier today.

The person may have been angry about bad transport service and may have wanted to vent. However, the language was abusive and ad-hominem, and no way helpful to solving problems. We wish the person had shown some restraint and maturity before clicking the button.

We apologize to all our readers, to the parents who helped to write the post and the other parents whose valuable comments had to be taken down with the page.

All freedoms come with responsibility. Certain behaviours encourage the development of authoritarian systems designed to limit those freedoms. That is not a desired outcome of this little experiment. And we will find ways to steer clear of any such disaster.

We are volunteers who maintain this blog in our free time. We don't have the time or budget to keep looking for destructive comments and weed them out. It is probably easier for us to just shutdown the blog or block all comments if the freedom is abused.

The comments written by you are your responsibility, but do not forget that you also have a responsibility towards the community. You have no right to wreck a community just because of your anger. (We all do feel anger at one time or another. We better learn to channelize it into more constructive energy).

If you are posting critical facts/opinions/views/analysis, we don't want to block any of it.
It is within your right as a consumer to do all of that. The "anonymity" in these cases is benign, as it protects you from being identified, swatted and silenced by the heavy hand of people who don't like your criticism.

However, if you abuse the privilege of that anonymity to abuse someone, they have as much right to recourse as you, remember. The distance between "anonymity" and "full disclosure" is a sub-poena.

So please keep decorum for the sake of others who wish to continue the discussion. Thank you for your co-operation. As usual, comments are welcome. Hope we can get on with the business of making GIIS a better place.
POLICY: Under normal circumstance the editors of this blog DO NOT edit or remove your comments. Your comment belongs to you and we are not responsible for it. However, under special circumstances the editors reserve the right to remove offensive comments.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

On happy places of learning, and annual days

Inspired by news from The Hindu, Bangalore titled:
‘Turn schools into happy places of learning’

1. At Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Nagarjuna Vidyaniketan, Yelahanka, the 12th Annual Days was an occasion where the chief guest said "that there is an urgent need to turn schools into happy places of learning" and that "in an education system only children must matter and not the overloaded curriculum" (I guess we could debate that!).

Further, “A school must be a place where children shape their own learning in consultation with teachers. Children are not empty vessels waiting to be filled by teachers..."

We agree.

2. National Public School (NPS), Koramangala, had primary section (Montessori to Grade 5) class presentations, in which "each and every student is an active participant and puts up his or her best performance on stage.... These presentations were not run of the mill cultural shows but ... ensure that the speaking skills and confidence of every student was brought forth..."

We think this is good, at a time when even "non-profit schools" tend to forget that annual days should be student-centric (and not school-centric) !

It is easy to spot school-centric annual days: just look for the tell-tale "run of the mill cultural shows".

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The GIIS Culture of non-response and non co-operation

Is GIIS awake ?
Any Principals or PSG's out there listening ?
Any one watching ? Have something to say ?

To all the issues we have raised here, discussed, surveyed and voted on, and e-mailed out by quite a few parents, there is one brilliantly consistent reply from GIIS QT and EC and GIIS QT PSG.

And that reply is: DEAD SILENCE.

[On the positive side, some of our work in this blog has produced recent improvements (even if small) and change of position/corrections. Let us not forget to commend both parents and GIIS for that - Ed.]

We have had educators writing to us from as far as Trinidad and Tobago (!) but our GIIS 'authorities' have no time to reply.

A number of parents are believed to have sent e-mails from this blog, to highlight issues of
Some of these e-mails have been sent to GIIS QT Principal, GIIS EC Principal and GIIS QT PSG, to the e-mail IDs we have provided here.

Seven QT Parents have informed us having e-mailed selected pages to these "authorities" over the last couple of months. Counting all, there were a total of zero e-mail replies and zero blog comments, from Principal (QT/EC) and PSG volunteers all put together. This score is impressive.

[Update 24/1/08: There is one short anonymous comment possibly from PSG today which just offers the PSG email ID, but we had already posted this email ID to all parents, so the counter continues to be zero for all practical purposes].

Two disturbing questions:
1. Why are Principals not responding (and not even directing a subordinate to respond) ? The Principals are supposed to be the heads of institutions !
2. Why is QT PSG not responding to emails ? (EC PSG gets the benefit of doubt of being dead, but QT PSG is alive on paper). [They are unpaid volunteers though. Do not expect much action. -Ed]

We can only guess that...

1. Principals are possibly now under "gag orders" not to respond in writing to parents. Or they may need clearance from bosses to say anything on record.
[Note that Feedback through myGIIS is still being welcomed by school. However, as we all know, myGIIS is a 1 to 1 closed system webmail which cannot be forwarded out and any mail is eraseable/retractable by school at will. -Ed.]

2. Why is QT PSG acting dead ? Many guesses are offered to us:
a) They have been ordered by GIIS not to talk to parents, or
b) They have quit (like Malaysia PSG has quit), or
c) They don't care anymore but just need to be shown as existing due to MoE regulations.

[To be fair, the earlier PSG committee of QT had a few good initiatives like book sale and counselling. As of now, it probably still exists but the volunteers may have lost interest or may be short of time. I think we should not expect too much from them - Ed].

Whatever the reasons, lack of response and non-cooperation reveals the paranoid, closed-mind culture GIIS is breeding. This diseased culture, being transmitted to the future generations... is unacceptable.

We again welcome interested parents (PSG volunteers included), GIIS Principals and Teachers to sign up for regular e-mail updates from this blog, and contribute to the discussion here to build a better GIIS.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Customer service and the Customer

[We had some interesting discussions lately and here is the scoop for you -Ed].

Education is a service. We are customers paying for the service.

Customers must have voice. When service level falls below par, the customer will want to protest to the service provider. That needs a voice.

What if the service provider fails to improve, despite many chances ? Consumer groups (such as this forum) can send a strong message to the service provider.

This is about 'speaking up'. Some parents are of the view that 'speaking up' is not the 'done thing' in Singapore. They are mistaken. This is about consumer rights and not about political speech ! Below (see pic) are Singaporean consumer rights activists happily and safely protesting...
To get our views across peacefully to the school, we just need a small fraction of the full power of Gandhigiri (Mahatma Gandhi had to break laws and go to jail ! Luckily, we live in the post-colonial era).

Keep speaking up, keep a close eye on the school, and keep up the pressure; things will improve. They have to.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

3rd Campus (Balestier) Advertisement

(For current actions see BLOG MAIN PAGE)

[1/07/2008: It seems that this new campus had a big impact on the already profit making GIIS. There was a fee hike soon after, hotly debated and analysed on this blog: see
fee hike related. -Ed]

The 3rd Campus ad put out by GIIS

GIIS New Staff announcement

GIIS New Staff
Announcement received from Atul Temurnikar, Chairman
(Click below to enlarge)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One mom and a school (contributed link)

Here is a link contributed by a parent:
It is about junk food in school canteens. Most of us know that junk food is bad for kids. But only a few of us care, and fewer still dare, to do what this mom did.

P.S. Contributions are always welcome. But we would rather have you post articles by yourself if you could !
Be a daring mom and join us ! Write and post your articles !

(Don't know how to post a blog article ? You could ask your child to teach you... blogging is easy and fun).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

IB Results of ACS(I) Singapore

Please visit our HOME PAGE. Thank you.
Reuters India has posted this report: Singapore school beats world in top test scores
Excerpts:

Singapore's Anglo Chinese School (Independent) said it had nine students out of the 20 who scored perfect grades, among the 5,500 globally who sat for last November's exams.

"What is incredible is that this school did achieve such results with its first cohort," said Judith Guy, regional director of International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific.

"The IB can be a real challenge for students because they have to be all rounders rather than playing to their strengths," Guy said.

The school, to which Singapore's prime minister sent a son, said half of the 375 students who sat for the exams scored 40 points and above out of a maximum 45, making them eligible for entry into U.S. Ivy League universities or Britain's Oxford.

... Education in Asian countries such as South Korea, China, Japan and Singapore, is highly competitive as students vie for places in exclusive universities that are seen as a way up the economic ladder.

(Interestingly, there was an in-depth comment posted here today which seems to explain why GIIS IB results are still yet to be announced. Check back here for updates !).

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Missing out on an Indian education ?

GIIS is an Indian/International school in Singapore. Parents' Forum: HOME PAGE !
[Update 1/7/2008
Dear Parents:
The only way to keep GIIS honest is by keeping this blog alive
!
We request all new parents to subscribe to this blog and remain informed.
-Ed]


[Updated 26/1/2008]

We wish parents, children, teachers, and all at GIIS a happy and prosperous New Year.

Article from the New York Times: Losing an Edge, Japanese Envy India’s Schools.
By MARTIN FACKLER. Published: January 2, 2008.
Japan is in the midst of a growing craze for Indian education.

Does this refer to the "Indian education" that our kids are receiving ? What do you read from it ? What do you think ?

[Update 26/1/2008:Reading the comments here on this so far, we think the main point of the NYT article has been obscured by our 'little domestic problem' with the GIIS Newsletter (mis)-reporting the story. That settled, we draw your attention to the discussions it kicked off among 'people of education' sitting at this huge discussion table called the blogosphere. Despite NYT's known fixation for dubous 'trends', their thoughtful and curious readership has turned up in droves to comment online. Read those at the same NYT link given above. Further, read Prof. Amardeep Singh (Sepia Mutiny) observing that:

"...the article’s first major problem, which is statistical: the only concrete example in the entire piece is based on this one school (“Little Angels”), which only has 45 students. (Other Indian International schools are mentioned in the second half of the article, but in those schools the vast majority of students are currently Indian expatriates, not Japanese.)..."

There goes the wind from the article's sail.

SAJA Forum has picked out a couple of online comments to the NYT article, which we reproduce here for your benefit:


...letter from Harvard education professor, Howard Gardner:
I was fascinated to read that Japan is now imitating education in India but dismayed to learn what is being imitated: memorization, cramming and attempting to teach anything and everything at ever earlier ages (“Losing an Edge, Japanese Envy India’s Schools,” front page, Jan. 2). What Japan should be pondering are India’s lessons from the period of being a British colony and from the struggle against British hegemony. These include surviving, sometimes thriving, in a pluralistic world; genuine democracy (warts and all); heated debate; a liberal arts education; the importance of play and irreverence; posing tough questions; the individual’s willingness to struggle against mentors; and the nation’s capacity to rebel against an overly powerful national model elsewhere, be it British or American.

... letter, from ... Susan L. Schwartz:

Having spent six weeks last summer on a Fulbright investigating what United States educators can learn from the Indian system, I find it ironic that some Japanese want to emulate the Indian system, which favors rote learning.

Similarities exist in both countries: an emphasis on passing exams as the requirement to enter universities; the hours of homework students must complete; the respect given teachers; and the support provided by parents.

But there is now a recognition in India that curriculums must include more application, not just memorization, and that all students, not just those who can afford it and have no special needs, must be educated.

In fact, some Indian educators point to the American system as a model, because it fosters creativity, educates all children regardless of background and enables everyone who wants to to attend college.

Hope you found it all interesting and educational. - Ed ]

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

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