September 30, 2010 - kenshinjeff

study so hard for what?

In the early 1980s to 1990s, parents have always emphasised on how important education was, how it was essential to get an o level or a  diploma to get a job, how a Government job is an iron rice bowl, etc. etc. In those times, educators (mainly teachers) were highly revered and admired, I wouldn’t be too surprised if you said you were a teacher and you could eat for free.

It’s the year 2010 now in Singapore, where the minimum is a diploma, Government jobs are on a contract basis, and teachers are treated very poorly. Many things may have changed with times, but an education is now more important than ever in our fast paced society. Today, I will attempt to breakdown the importance of having a paper qualification with simple Singaporean style math. If you’ve never calculated this before, you probably haven’t taken the first step into calculating your future.

For singaporeans this is how your education path looks like:

  • 2 to 3 years of Pre School Education
  • 6 Years of Primary Education
  • 4 to 5 Years of Secondary Education
  • 2 to 3 Years of Additional Tertiary Education
  • 3 to 4 Years of Undergraduate Studies
  • 2 to 6 Years of Postgraduate Studies

Most people either complete Tertiary and/or their Undergraduate studies. Which makes an average male about 24 when they finish they national service. I must iterate, these are starting salaries of fresh graduates, with no prior experience. I believe I’m using very generous values since I don’t own a car nor a flat yet, but do let me know if I have over/underestimated.


“Favourable” starting pay (Aged 24)

O levelsITE GraduatePolytechnic GraduateGraduate
Monthly Salary1,3001,4001,8002,500
Yearly Salary Totals15,60016,80021,60030,000
Yearly Income Tax Payable0056350
CPF Payable (Employee)252276360500
CPF Payable (Employer)189203261363
ACTUAL OA FIGURE294.02319.36414.03575.38
Money left per month1,0481,1241,4351,970
Max savings (5 years)62,88067,44086,100118,200
CPF OA (5 Years)17,641.2019,161.6024,846.6034,522.80

Now, after 5 years of working in the same industy, the salary could look like this (Aged 29)

O levelsITE GraduatePolytechnic GraduateGraduate
Monthly Salary1,8002,2002,8003,500
Yearly Salary Totals21,60026,40036,60042,000
Yearly Income Tax Payable562247131070
CPF Payable (Employee)360440560700
CPF Payable (Employer)261319406508
ACTUAL OA FIGURE414.03506.04644.04805.39
Money left per month1,4351,7412,1802,710
Max savings (5 years)86,100104,460130,800162,600
CPF OA (5 Years)24,841.8030,362.4038,642.4048,383.40

From my personal estimation (which is very generous), I would say another 5 years later it ought to look roughly like this (Aged 34):

O levelsITE GraduatePolytechnic GraduateGraduate
Monthly Salary2,2002,6003,2004,500
Yearly Salary Totals26,40031,20038,40054,000
Yearly Income Tax Payable2244168122090
CPF Payable (Employee)440520640900
CPF Payable (Employer)319377464653
ACTUAL OA FIGURE506.04598.04736.051035.40
Money left per month1,7402,0502,5003,460
Max savings (5 years)104,400123,000150,000207,600
CPF OA (5 Years)30,362.4035,882.4044,16362,124

For the remaining years, it likely that the O Levels and ITE graduates will stay stagnant, while the Polytechnic graduates will have minor increase. The greatest income gap will be between University Graduates and Polytechnic graduates. Not only that, for graduates your income can be very high, depending on where you are working at.

Let’s look at pricing of cars:

A cheap red plate car: $250/MTH
A higher ranged car: $750/MTH
Petrol + ERP + Parking + Insurance = Maybe $200/MTH
So a total of maybe $450 to $950/MTH

Let’s look at pricing of flats:

Sep 2010, BTO pricing, lowest end.
Tiara (4 Room) 242,000
Tiara (5 Room) 304,000
Senja (4 Room) 242,000
Senja (5 Room) 308,000

I would think $300,000 is a reasonable sum lah ah.

If you have no CPF at all, for simplicity’s sake, a 30 year loan with HDB at 2.6% for $300,000 will equate to $1,202/month for two couples. That’s about $601/month for each couple, if you empty your CPF, a poly couple graduate would easily manage that after 5 years of experience.

Oh yes, renovation to be paid in cash? That’s about $10,000 to $30,000+++ within a year?

Personally I have no idea what kind of condo you can buy for less than a 800k nowadays, so it’ll be 800,000.

Landed Property:
My guess is about 2.5 million.

Let’s look at the pricing of getting married:

Now if you’re Chinese, that would mean at least ROM buffet or a wedding banquet at some kind of restaurant. Which means it could be anything from $1,000 to $30,000+++ (Est 30 tables of $1,000 not too sure if it’s too much or too little).

Everything being said, the cost of a degree in Singapore is about $7,000 to $25,000 a year. That’s $21,000 to $75,000 for about 3 years. Since there is a value to every part of each paper qualification, we can actually count backwards and count the number of times you can afford to screw up in Singapore.

Secondary school: You have 10 years series worth of examples, with sample answers. You have a library. Your teachers spoon feed you, make you do home work and punish you like the child you are who does not understand the importance of education. If you don’t get an average of at least a B3, are you going to blame everyone but yourself?

ITE: If you’re thinking that you want to be here for whatever reasons, it’s up to yourself to figure out what you want for your future and what you should do to improve your standings. Just because you’re in an ITE it doesn’t mean you are inferior, you have just made an insensible decision while you were young. There are still alot of open paths because you’re young. The only person who has condemned you, is actually yourself.

JC: Same as secondary school.

Polytechnic: You are enjoying the extra time you have, how wonderful is the summer of youth, surrounded by so many young and vibrant friends, without a care for the future, and school is easy! Everything that you are to be examined for, are in your thin lecture notes and tutorials! Let’s face it, how difficult is it to get at least a GPA of 3/4 or 4/5!?!?!?!?

Graduate degree: Some serious time management skill is required if you want to get your act together here. Tutorials can be ignored, lectures can be skipped. All this is because you’re supposed to an adult, you don’t need anyone telling you that an education is important, because in Singapore it fucking is.

Looking around, you will eventually figure that out usually people holding a degree are earning way more, even though you may be alot smarter, you do things faster, you are more hardworking than them. But that is how the society in Singapore works. No matter how many years of experience you have, your o levels/polytechnic/ITE certificate will hit a salary limit.** However, that’s not true for a degree, because for a degree, it’s the level of your experience that determines your salary limit. Makes sense? Check out the classified ads for job openings and see for yourself, it has always been the same.

There’s this saying that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. I would think that most people start out generally poor like you and me, and others get a head start. Well you see, in order to make money, you need to have at least some spare cash lying around right? How the hell are you going to get any spare cash when you don’t have enough in the first place, and most of your time is being used to work to pay off the amount you owe? That’s not even adding up the rent/bills/car/loan/wedding/insurance/children.

If you aren’t saving any money and you’re always in the negatives towards the end of the month, how are you ever going to be un-poor? And if you look back, you’ll realise how important the degree is. Still don’t believe me? Look at those people who have scored 5 points in their O levels, do you think their life is way brighter than yours? There is still a fighting chance for you, because once you get a degree you would have moved up the ladder and have leveled the playing field.

If you have a chance of getting into an institute of higher learning, you should just do it. Look at the environment now, look at the price of living, the average income, the price of flats, the increasing difficulty of studying. If you want to study later instead of studying now, I doubt the logic of your option. If you’re not forcing your kids to study, same thing. If you don’t know what to study, study a general business degree. If you’re currently struggling, suck it up and just do it. If everyone else can do it, who are you to say that you can’t?

If you’re contented with a $2,000/month life, if you’re contented your children will survive with that amount of money, sure, why not. If you’re contented with making your loved ones work harder to support your life, sure, why not. You don’t really need a huge amount of money, but I’m sure as hell having money makes your life way easier as compared to having no money.

**: This is the main reason why part time degrees are so popular in Singapore. It’s not because they have nothing better to do in the middle of the night after a long day of work. It is because when people realise the importance of  a degree, it’s too late, so they have no choice but to take a part time degree. It is usually _NOT_ because it’s cool that _EVERYONE_ has to support their family and stop schooling. Let’s face it, there are many people who need to support their family from a young age, but wouldn’t they be better supported if you had a higher paying job?

annoyances / logic & ideology


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