EDUCATION IN SINGAPORE

EDUCATION IN SINGAPORE

The education system in Singapore is based on the British systems and puts a lot of emphasis on testing. Schools are ranked no how well students do on standardized tests. The government places a strong emphasis on practical skills such as science and mathematics. Singapore students usually excell in international tests.

Singapore puts a lot of emphasis on education because it is widely believed that people are its only resource and these people have to exceptional if Singapore is to survive and prosper. The city-state thrives on innovation and gears education towards the latest needs of society and economic prosperity. Despite the criticism leveled against it for being regimented and test-oriented, the Singapore education system is quite creative. Singaporean teacher consistently rank high in teaching surveys and are commended for their innovative teaching methods.

Asia One reported: “A nation with a scarcity of natural resources, Singapore has devoted much effort toward nurturing an elite citizenry based on a merit system. Examinations are held to screen excellent students when they are in fourth and sixth grades of primary school, fourth grade of secondary school and second grade of junior college. Parents are frantic, as the door to a university will almost certainly close if their children fail but one examination.

Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 92.5 percent; male: 96.6 percent; female: 88.6 percent (2000 census). 57.8 percent of Singaporeans have secondary school diplomas or even higher qualifications.

Education expenditures: 3.3 percent of GDP (2012), country comparison to the world: 132 Public expenditures on education totaled 2.7 percent of the gross domestic product for school year 2004–5. In 1987 some 4 percent of the gross domestic product ( GDP) was devoted to education. The government's goal for the 1990s was to increase spending to 6 percent of GDP, which would match the levels of Japan and the United States.[Source: Library of Congress, 2006]

See Separate Article CHILDREN IN SINGAPORE under People

Goals of Singaporean Education

The government frequently referred to Singapore's population as its only natural resource and described education in the vocabulary of resource development. The goal of the education system was to develop the talents of every individual so that each could contribute to the economy and to the ongoing struggle to make Singapore productive and competitive in the international marketplace. The result was an education system that stressed the assessment, tracking, and sorting of students into appropriate programs. [Source: Library of Congress, 1989*]

Educators forthrightly described some students and some categories of students as better "material" and of more value to the country than others. In the 1960s and 1970s the education system, burdened with large numbers of children resulting from the high birth rates of the previous decades and reflecting the customary practices of the British colonial period, produced a small number of highly trained university graduates and a much larger number of young people who had been selected out of the education systems following secondary schooling by the rigorous application of standards. The latter entered the work force with no particular skills. *

Major reforms in 1979 produced an elaborate tracking system, intended to reduce the dropout rate and to see that those with low academic performance left school with some marketable skills. During the 1980s, more resources were put into vocational education and efforts were made to match the "products" of the school system with the manpower needs of industry and commerce. The combination of a school system emphasizing testing and tracking with the popular perception of education as the key to social mobility and to the source of the certifications needed for desirable jobs led to high levels of competition, parental pressure for achievement, and public attention and concern. *

In the 1980s, education was not compulsory, but attendance was nearly universal. Primary education was free, and Malays received free education through university. Students' families had to purchase textbooks and school uniforms, but special funds were available to ensure that no student dropped out because of financial need. Secondary schools charged nominal fees of S$9.50 per month.

Education and Singaporean Identity

More clearly than any other social institution, the school system expressed the distinctive vision of Singapore's leadership, with its stress on merit, competition, technology, and international standards, and its rejection of special privileges for any group. Singaporeans of all ethnic groups and classes came together in the schools, and the education system affected almost every family in significant and profound ways. [Source: Library of Congress, 1989*]

Most of the domestic political issues of the country, such as the relations between ethnic groups, the competition for elite status, the plans for the future security of the nation and its people, and the distribution of scarce resources were reflected in the schools and in education policy. Many of the settled education policies of the 1980s, such as the use of English as the medium of instruction, the conversion of formerly Malay or Chinese or Anglican missionary schools to standard government schools, or the attempted combination of open access with strict examinations, were the result of long-standing political disputes and controversy. *

In the determination of families and parents that their children should succeed in school, and in the universally acknowledged ranking of primary and secondary schools and the struggle to enroll children in those schools that achieved the best examination results, families expressed their distinctive values and goals. The struggle for achievement in the schools, which often included tutoring by parents or enrollment of young children in special private supplementary schools to prepare for crucial examinations, also demonstrated the system of social stratification and the struggle for mobility that characterized the modern society. It was in the schools, more than in any other institution, that the abstract values of multiracialism and of Singaporean identity were given concrete form. *

Education System in Singapore

Elaine Ee wrote in CNNGo.com, “Singapore's Compulsory Education Act makes it mandatory for children to receive their primary education at a Ministry of Education, or MOE-approved, school. After primary school, education options start to free up and students are left to pursue their education in any way they wish from their first year of secondary. An increasing number of homeschoolers -- many with parents who hold strong convictions or whose kids are not benefiting from the MOE system -- are emerging among secondary school students. [Source: Elaine Ee, CNNGo.com, August 11, 2011 +=+]

“Beyond secondary school, options fan out, with MOE-related junior colleges, polytechnics, institutes of technical education as well as myriad other private institutions for students to choose from, such as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and Shatec Institutes. But because the MOE system is so pervasive and ingrained, and because of the Compulsory Education Act, it’s often MOE’s way or the highway, so the pressure is on to get it right, from the start.” +=+

“Once our kids are in the all-consuming system, the path to doing well involves jumping through a series of well-defined hoops called assessments and exams. Miss one and play catch up. School examinations channel our children onto more or less set paths at relatively early ages; and while there are more paths to be channeled into, switching (particularly up) is difficult and rare. In 2009, for example, 38 percent of students in Secondary One had to enroll in the five-year O-level program because they did not qualify for the regular four-year program, and about 30 percent of those dropped out. That percentage has remained about the same for the last 10 years. +=+

Linda Darling-Hammond wrote in Time, “When visited Singapore's National Institute of Education, the nation's only teacher-training institution, nearly all the people I spoke with described how they were investing in teachers' abilities to teach a curriculum focused on critical thinking and inquiry--skills needed in a high-tech economy. To get the best teachers, the institute recruits students from the top third of each graduating high school class into a fully paid four-year teacher-education program (or, if they enter later, a one-to-two-year graduate program) and puts them on the government's payroll. When they enter the profession, teachers' salaries are higher than those of beginning doctors. [Source: Linda Darling-Hammond, Time February 14, 2008]

“Expert teachers are given time to serve as mentors to help beginners learn their craft. The government pays for 100 hours of professional development each year for all teachers. In addition, they have 20 hours a week to work with other teachers and visit one another's classrooms. And teachers continue to advance throughout their career. With aid from the government, teachers in Singapore can pursue three separate career ladders, which help them become curriculum specialists, mentors for other teachers or school principals. These opportunities bring recognition, extra compensation and new challenges that keep teaching exciting and allow teachers to share their expertise.” [Ibid]

Education Obsession in Singapore

Seah Chiang Nee wrote in The Star, “The preoccupation with the paper chase is a national trait. During recessions, the government often increased the education budget rather than reduce it. At home, families spend tens of thousands of dollars a year for special tuition or extra classes for their children. The word tuition is probably the first word a Singaporean kid hears as soon as he or she learns to walk. And as he grows up, it seldom leaves him; even undergraduates here get tuition. [Source: Seah Chiang Nee, The Star, July 30, 2011]

“It is not surprising to see long lines of parents huddling overnight outside popular tuition centres, waiting to enrol their children when the centres open. With this frenetic local preoccupation and tens of thousands of foreign children coming here to study, allocation of places has become a hot potato. [Ibid]

In 2001, AFP reported: “A recent survey showed parents in Singapore spent S$320 million (US$185 million) a year, or about S$1 million dollars a day, on extra tuition to boost the academic performance of their children. But another survey found that 33 percent of 9-12 year-olds considered life not worth living because of the fear of academic failure. [Source: Agence France Presse, March 2, 2001]

“A Singapore woman was recently jailed for nine months for caning and kicking her nine-year-old son when he asked for homework help on the eve of an exam. The mother was said to have been furious with her son for not paying attention in class. Reports in 2000 year of excessive punishment, including a nine-year-old caned by his mother for only getting 83 percent in a science exam, led Education Minister Teo Chee Hean to issue a public plea for parents not to belt children who do not meet exam expectations.” [Ibid]

Education Pressure in Singapore

Parents in Singapore pressure their children to do well on tests so they can get into the best schools. There is a lot of pressure on students and teachers to produce top scores. Preschool children bring home spelling homework and stress over trying to get into elite schools like the Henry Park Primary School. Parents take part in lotteries to get their children into top school and breakdown if they don’t succeed. Some kids carry backpacks filled up to 10 textbooks, each weighing 700 to 800 grams, Kids carry so many heavy textbooks some school introduced portable electronic devices in the pre-iPad early 2000s—with digitalized textbooks and screens they can write on—to lighten their load.

In 2001, attention was focused on the issue of school stress after a 10-year-old girl committed suicide by jumping from the fifth floor of her apartment block because her Chinese language grades weren’t high enough. By all accounts she was a cheerful girl with top grades. A few months earlier a 12-year-old girl lept to her death after her father found that she had doctored her grades.

Seah Chiang Nee wrote in The Star, The Singapore education system produces “enormous pressure on the children. More and more pupils, as young as kindergarten and primary classes, are seeking help from psychiatrists for study or exam blues. On Mondays, this "school refusal" illness appears for more and more pupils in the form of a tummy ache, headache, nausea, fever or dizziness, according to a research conducted by a government hospital. It is not a physical sickness. The children are so desperate to avoid school that the symptoms of these ailments appear at the start of the week. The spotlight on Singapore's high-pressure education system followed suicides earlier this year of two girls, aged 10 and 12, because they did not perform well in examinations.[Source: Seah Chiang Nee, The Star, December 2, 2001 >>>]

“Surveys of nine- to 12-year-olds in the city-state have found one in three say life is not worth living because of the fear of academic failure. Five percent of all pupils in Singapore are now said to suffer from "school refusal," and the Health Ministry recently brought in an Australian expert to study how Singapore's school system impacts on the health of children. Dr Jill Sewell, a child health specialist at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, spent a week visiting hospitals and talking to children before making recommendations to the ministry. "These (school refusal) pains can be very real. But underlying these physical symptoms is deep anxiety," Dr Sewell said. >>>

“In another controversial development, a secondary school caned 41 boys for skipping tests in one month recently. An enraged parent, whose son was reluctant to go to school after being caned, told the Straits Times: "I believe the school's counselling programme is a complete failure if the principal has to resort to caning." But the principal, Saminathan Gopal, stood by his decision and described the punished students as recalcitrant, and that "they were irresponsible and did not turn up for an important test." Each boy received two strokes on the buttocks and was sent for counselling later. Seventeen girls were sent for community work for skipping the tests as well. While the Education Ministry gives principals the discretion and authority to cane students, it allows only a maximum of six light strokes on the palm or buttocks, and does not allow girls to be caned. >>

“To critics, this use of corporate punishment instead of counselling does not augur well for efforts to promote thinking students. Not all parents condemn this strictness. One parent, whose 16-year-old son had overslept and missed five tests, said: "Missing tests is ridiculous. He should be caned, and if he misbehaves again he should be caned again."

Changes in Singaporean Education

Reports of high rankings by Singaporean students on international tests were first published around the same time as low growth forecasts for the Singaporean economy. Many people including Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, began pushing for education reforms that included less memorization and rote learning and more creativity and the addition of more art classes, outdoor outing and clubs.

Responding to the criticism, teachers began basing student performance on projects rather than standardized tests and universities switched to a SAT-type test which puts more emphasis on analytical skills not just recalling facts.

In announcing a new government policy called Thinking Schools in 1997, the Singapore Minister of Education said, “We cannot produce adaptable, innovative and creative students unless we have adaptable, innovative and creative teachers and schools.”

Singapore Ranks at the Top in International Rankings of Academic Performance

Singapore ranked fifth in reading second in mathematics and forth in science out of 65 countries in the OECD academic aptitude tests conducted under in 2009 the Program from International Student Assessment (PISA). "Singapore's good performance at PISA 2009 shows that beyond their strong grasp of knowledge, our students have the ability to think critically and solve real-life problems," the Education Ministry of Singapore said.

In 2004, Miranda Green wrote in the Financial Times, “Singapore easily outstrips other countries in the maths and science skills of its schoolchildren, a big international study showed although some other Asian economies are also doing very well. At both 10 and 14 years old, the third Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMMS) found Singaporean children performing much better in curriculum-based maths tests than those in any other participating country. At the younger level, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan also did well, with Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan excelling in the older age group. But Singaporean 10-year-olds beat all other competitors, with Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and England as runners-up. More than 360,000 students in 49 countries participated in the latest Timms study, which has been conducted every four years by researchers at Boston College since 1995. [Source: Miranda Green, Financial Times, December 15, 2004]

Rankings for eighth graders in Mathematics in a 1996 TIMSS international study: 1) Singapore; 2) Korea; 3) Japan; 4) Hong Kong; 5) Belgium (Flemish); 6) Czech Republic; 7) Slovakia; 8) Switzerland; 9) Netherlands; 10) Slovenia; 28) United States. Rankings for eighth graders in science in a 1996 TIMSS international study: 1) Singapore; 2) Czech republic; 3) Japan; 4) Korea; 5) Bulgaria; 6) Netherlands; 7) Slovenia; 8) Austria; 9) Hungary; 10) England; 17) United States. [Source: Third International Mathematics and Science Study, TIMSS

Singapore ranked first in math and second in science among 8th grade students in 38 countries, according to TIMSS survey in 2001. Crowing about Singapore’s test score results, Lee Kuan Yew said, "In the West students explore on their own, and some students cannot spell properly. Our children have done well."

Singapore and Korea Top OECD’S First Pisa Problem-solving Test

Students from Singapore and Korea have performed best in the OECD PISA first assessment of creative problem-solving. Students in these countries are quick learners, highly inquisitive and able to solve unstructured problems in unfamiliar contexts. 85,000 students from 44 countries and economies took the computer-based test, involving real-life scenarios to measure the skills young people will use when faced with everyday problems, such as setting a thermostat or finding the quickest route to a destination. Japan, Macao-China, Hong Kong-China, Shanghai-China and Chinese Taipei were also among the top-performing economies. [Source: OECD, January 4, 2014]

Around one in nine (11.4 percent ) of 15-year-old students across OECD countries are able to solve the most complex problems, compared to one in five in Singapore, Korea and Japan. But on average across OECD countries about one in five students are able to solve only the simplest problems, meaning they lack the skills the modern workplace needs.

The OECD’s PISA results reveal what is possible in education by showing what students in the highest-performing and most rapidly improving education systems can do. The findings allow policy makers around the world to gauge the knowledge and skills of students in their own countries in comparison with those in other countries, set policy targets against measurable goals achieved by other education systems, and learn from policies and practices applied elsewhere.

Participating countries and economies were: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong-China, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Macao-China, Malaysia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Shanghai-China, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, United States.

Singapore School Streaming System Creating Arrogant Students?

Seah Chiang Nee wrote in The Star, “What began as a jealous boy-girl dating complaint has developed into a full-blown Internet debate that highlights the divisive impact of Singapore’s school ranking system. It was an innocuous message of a student from the elite Raffles Girls’ School dating a boy from an under-achieving neighbourhood school. Few people could have anticipated anything worth to comment about, but it provoked a Raffles Junior College student – RJCdude – to call on lower-ranking students to “quit trying to climb the social ladder by dating students from top schools.” The explosive discussion pitched the present, and former, students of top-ranking schools against those of neighbourhood schools, to which average or below-average students generally are streamed. They end up – at best – with a diploma rather than a university degree. [Source: Seah Chiang Nee, The Star, February 15, 2004 ^^]

“The Web debate stretched over a period of four months, attracting more than 400 postings in two chatsites. Cynic, who suggested that the couple break up, said: “It's not going to work out. She's going to be ashamed of introducing him to her friends and her family.” What about the future? he asked. “Will he be happy wallowing in her shadow when she starts earning three times more than him? Inferiority complex will soon kick in. “There also will be a great communication problem. I mean, what has a graduate from Cornell in common with Ah Beng on the streets?” ^^

“Cordonbluu wrote of the different social class and intellectual mentalities and the ability to provide. “The one weaker in academics will not be able to provide nourishment for the mind and cannot engage in intelligent discussion on politics, for example,” he said. “And the more intelligent one will probably have to lower his/her standards and eventually will degenerate to the same level.” He added this bombshell: “We are afraid of genetic dilution.” “Leave the RGS girl alone-lah! Leave her to other high-flying guys. It's good to know one's limits once in a while,” declared Get Real. One forum participant said the Raffles schoolgirl was earmarked for higher things in life, so the guy should not spoil it for her. Another “elite” student, Super-infector, said he would never go out with a girl from a neighbourhood school because of “social and intellectual disparity.” Declared another: “You guys should know your place in society.” ^^

“But underneath all the juvenile froth is something more important to the nation. It raises a crucial question about character-building of our top students. While the education system can produce excellent engineers and scientists, can the same be said of raising potential leaders who are sensitive to society’s needs? The views of some of Singapore’s “elite” students are revealing and disturbing. They lend weight to an observation by some foreigners that the new generation of Singaporeans is arrogant and self-centred.

“One is the former Chinese ambassador here, Chen Bioliu, who said Singaporeans need to shed their “arrogance” and “air of superiority” if they were to further improve relations with China. According to her, some Singaporeans, with their superiority in English, tend to look down on Chinese nationals. Her comment reflects the fears of some leaders who have been warning people they must do more to drop the “ugly Singaporean” image that some neighbouring countries have of them. ^^

“Not all the “elite” ex-students, of course, share this arrogance; in fact a few condemn the arguments. But there are enough of those who agree with RJCdude. If they are insensitive to the less capable in college, can they be depended upon to provide leadership and compassion to the needy when they become adults? ^^

“Ultimately, the question arises as to whether the ranking system is shaping an elitist mentality, breeding a class division in Singapore. Sgstvoy, who admits he came from a top school, argues that students with limited capacity, or the lower class, “exist for the service of the upper class.” To the lesser students, he advised: “Know your limits and develop your other niche abilities for I do believe an academically inept person will have other abilities that may not be valued by the current system.”

“No creativity, no analytical skill, arrogant and think too highly of themselves but yet is in fact a pathetic bunch who live in their own small little world. This is really sad,” one declared. “You guys are terribly childish,” said Jenn. “If you think you're going to make it big with that attitude, you're in for a big surprise.” In the working world, nobody cares what college you come from, only how well you perform, says another. “This thread has gotten out of control. The school ranking system has gone all wrong.” Finally, from ex-elite ExRGS: “One day when these arrogant bigots have to step out into the real world where no one knows what your old school name means, you will finally learn to grow up.” ^^

Singaporean Parents Spend Millions on Extra Education for Their Kids

In 2000, AFP reported: “Parents in Singapore spend S$320 million (US$185 million) a year, or about S$1 million dollars a day, on extra tuition to boost their kids' academic performance, a survey conducted by the Straits Times showed today. But the students said they only experienced moderate improvement in their grades, the daily reported. Covering 600 students and parents, the survey confirmed long-held perceptions of a highly competitive city-state which rewards those with top academic results. [Source: Agence France Presse, November 28, 2000]

“The survey showed that eight times out of ten, parents insisted on the extra tuition classes, with two in three parents saying the aim was to help their kids score well in exams. In 1992, when the national daily carried out a similar survey, concern that children could not cope with the subject was the top reason. The relentless drive on children to perform academically has led Singaporean Education Minister Teo Chee Hean to plead with parents to tone down the pressure. "It's not a good thing for a parent to be caning his child just because he failed his exams," the minister said over the weekend. [Ibid]

According to AFP in 2010: ““In a high-pressure education system where raw test results matter more than anything else, parents are sparing no costs to arm their children for future competition and ensure they qualify for the top two local universities. Private tutors can cost parents hundreds of dollars per month. They, in turn, put pressure on their children to do well in primary and secondary school exams, creating a spiral of expectations and pressure. "It becomes more and more difficult every year because children are getting better prepared for primary school by their parents, and the teachers and schools upgrade their teachings with the greater expectations," said William Toh, one of three founders of an education web portal. <> [Source: Agence France Presse, August 8, 2010 <>]

“But things could be changing for stressed-out Singaporean kids. To himself has a daughter entering primary school next year, called reform f [Singapore’s testing system] a step in the right direction. "In fact, (stress on children) might be even higher because even if the schools are not giving exams, parents are thinking about sending them to enrichment classes so that they will be prepared," he said. Toh is not taking any chances -- he is already sending his daughter to enrichment classes in preparation for primary school. “ <>

Teacher Scandals Spur Singaporeans to Take a Hard Look at Their Education System

In the wake of teachers being caught embezzling college money, committing lewd behavior, peddling drugs and a couple of times having sex with students, Heather Tan of Associated Press wrote: “In a country known for its orderliness and strict laws the scandals are raising questions about whether the government has ignored declining moral and social standards. More surprising is that such egregious cases have been recorded in Singapore's highly regarded educational system, where both teachers and students are conditioned from first grade to be disciplined, rule-fearing and committed to academic excellence. A student's academic future is determined at age 10 through a streaming system, which pushes over-achievers into a fast-track schooling. At age 12 they take a national test to get into top schools. [Source: Heather Tan, Associated Press, November 15, 2012 <<<]

"This over emphasis on results does not directly contribute to falling standards of probity in schools. Rather, what it did was to reduce the importance placed on values, character and integrity," said Eugene Tan, an assistant professor of law at the Singapore Management University. "In a sense we took our eyes off the ball when we shouldn't have. I think the matter is a lot more complex with multi-causal factors, including a general societal decline in moral standards," he said. <<<

Gabriel Tan, an associate professor of psychology at the National University of Singapore, said there is a general sense of frustration among Singaporeans at the "very tight control" on society by the government. This control has long ensured that people conform to the government's vision of a good society -- law-abiding, hard-working, health-conscious staid nationalists. "Recently, in the last elections, there seemed to be a sort of murmur among people saying they wanted a more open government so this (spate of scandals) actually may reflect Singapore moving in the direction where you are questioning and abusing authority," said Tan. <<<

"As a parent, you don't see how classroom lessons and extracurricular activities are conducted," said Elaine Khoo, a 43-year old banker and mother of two. "Naturally that means you have to place your trust in the school to do what's best for your child, but what if it's at the hands of morally-questionable people masquerading as teachers?" <<<

“The Education Ministry said it takes a "very serious view of misconduct by teachers," and violators are subject to disciplinary action. "Teachers who have misconducted themselves are a small minority of the 33,000 strong teaching force, and are not representative of the Education Service at large," it said in a statement to the Associated Press. <<<

Singaporean Child Genius Leaves Rigid System for Malaysia

A Singaporean child “genuis” who passed 10th grade chemistry at age seven moved to Malaysia for higher education because the Singaporean education system was too rigid, the child’s parents said. Associated Press reported: “Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, gained attention when he passed the O Level - or American 10th grade - chemistry examination in Singapore at 7. Two years later, he passed the O Level physics exam and the AS Level, or 11th grade, chemistry exam. However, his Irish father Valentine Cawley said that the Singapore government was inflexible and failed to support his son's needs to ensure his intellectual growth. [Source: AP, January 6, 2010 |~|]

“Ainan attended primary school for three years and was "bored silly," Cawley said. In an e-mailed response Singapore's Education Ministry said it had sought to work with Ainan's parents to develop him "holistically to become a successful adult." It said the ministry designed an individualized education plan to help Ainan excel. Cawley said the plan was useless because it did not allow his son to study subjects from higher grades. "What they did instead was to ensure that he was bored to death with the normal curriculum. The standard school numbed his mind and put his brain to sleep on a daily basis," he said. |~|

The ministry did not address Cawley's specific complaints that his request to have his son home-schooled was rejected and that it refused to give Ainan access to a chemistry laboratory. "They didn't want to make exception for one child," Cawley said. "We wrestled with the system for three years and found it too inflexible and unwilling to accommodate Ainan's needs. It's punishing him really and we gave up in the end." |~|

“With the help of the National Association for Gifted Children of Malaysia, Cawley and his Singaporean wife enrolled Ainan at the private-run HELP University College in Kuala Lumpur this week. Cawley said his son will be joining 18-year-olds in studying in a degree program with computer science and chemistry options, as well as adding A-level physics and math to his tally. "We chose HELP as they understood Ainan's unusual needs and were willing to do their best to help," he said. |~|

“HELP officials said they would offer Ainan a full scholarship. Cawley will also work as a psychology researcher at the college. Cawley keeps a blog on Ainan's progress titled "The boy who knew too much." He says Ainan spoke his first words after a couple of weeks of life, began crawling at four months, walking at six months and running at eight months. According to HELP officials and Cawley, Ainan can recite pi - the number starting 3.14 that gives the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter - to 518 decimal places. He also knows the periodic table by heart. But a shy Ainan didn't demonstrate his abilities or talk to reporters at the news conference. Instead, he spent the time laughing and playing with the microphone.” |~|

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Singapore Tourism Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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