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Singapore Also Can

Discussion in 'Chit-Chat' started by Loh, May 4, 2009.

  1. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore tops index measuring food security, but vulnerable to trade and climate-related risks

    By Victor Loh

    [​IMG]
    TODAY file photo

    Published17 October, 2018
    Updated 17 October, 2018

    SINGAPORE — In a first for Singapore, the Republic has topped the Global Food Security Index, which measures the affordability, availability, quality and safety of food sources in 113 countries.

    This is an improvement from its fourth position last year.

    Singapore today imports 90 per cent of its food from about 180 countries, while the remaining 10 per cent are from local farms and landing, according to data from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

    "Countries lacking self-sufficiency in food production must rely on trade to fill the gap, but this reliance means that trade-dependent countries are vulnerable to shifts in the trade policies of food-exporting nations, including export bans," the report said.

    Rising protectionist sentiment around the world and the global trade tensions make importing countries especially vulnerable.

    For example, tariffs imposed by China on United States-origin soybeans in July last year caused Chinese buyers to cancel orders from the US and find new soybean sources at higher prices, causing consumer prices to increase.

    The 2018 report, which is sponsored by chemical company DowDuPont's Corteva Agriscience division, is the seventh such index focused on the role of resilience in food security.

    "Sometimes the causes of worsening food security can seem obvious — crop failures, armed conflict and hyperinflation are just a few of the culprits that can precipitate a crisis," the EIU said.

    "However, it is essential to understand the myriad contributing factors that influence the severity and impact of a particular shock and recovery from it in order to build better food systems that can absorb and adapt to change — in short, to build resilience."

    Overall, the global food security outlook for 2018 has improved, with more than 70 per cent of countries on the index registering improved scores from the preceding year. Lower-middle- and low-income countries experienced the most substantial gains.

    The US, which previously topped the index between 2012 and 2016, fell to second spot in 2017, and is currently third. Leading the decline was Venezuela, where the food-shortage situation driven by an economic crisis is "critical".

    Slovakia overtook Denmark as the top-ranking country in the natural resources and resilience category, which was only added to the annual index in 2017.

    The category "is an adjustment factor that serves as a lens through which overall food security can be viewed to demonstrate changes to the overall score when climate-related and natural resource risks are taken into account," the EIU said, adding that this gives one the option whether to take the risks into account.

    Global climate change remains a threat on the horizon, and "will pose unprecedented risks to food supplies, in tandem with (and often exacerbating) ongoing financial, social and political, and trade and supply chain risks," it warned.

    "As uncharted territory makes anticipation more difficult, preparations must be made to build more resilience into food systems."
     
  2. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    2018 GFSI overall rankings table

    Weighted total of all category scores (0-100 where 100 = most favourable)
    (Selected countries)

    1 Singapore 85.9
    2 Ireland 85.5
    =3 United Kingdom 85.0
    =3 United States 85.0

    5 Netherlands 84.7
    6 Australia 83.7
    7 Switzerland 83.5

    8 Finland 83.3
    9 Canada 83.2
    10 France 82.9
    11 Germany 82.7
    =12 Norway 82.2
    =12 Sweden 82.2
    14 Austria 82.1
    15 New Zealand 81.3
    16 Denmark 80.9
    17 Belgium 80.2
    18 Japan 79.9
    19 Portugal 79.3
    20 Israel 78.6
    21 Spain 78.0
    22 Qatar 76.5
    23 Italy 76.3
    24 Czech Republic 76.1
    25 South Korea 75.6
    32 Saudi Arabia 72.4
    37 Argentina 69.2
    39 Brazil 68.4
    46 China 65.1
    76 India 50.1

    97 Burkina Faso 37.9
    103 Syria 34.1
    108 Chad 31.5
    112 Congo (Dem. Rep.) 26.1
    113 Burundi 23.9

    ASEAN
    1 Singapore 85.9

    40 Malaysia 68.1
    54 Thailand 58.9
    62 Vietnam 56.0
    =65 Indonesia 54.8
    70 Philippines 51.5
    82 Myanmar 45.7
    85 Cambodia 42.3
    95 Laos 38.3
     
    #9582 Loh, Oct 16, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
  3. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Average lifespan of S'poreans in 2040 will be 85.4 years, third longest globally: Study
    https://www.todayonline.com/singapo...third-longest-world-till-854-years-2040-study

    [​IMG]
    Reuters file photo

    Published17 October, 2018
    Updated 17 October, 2018

    SINGAPORE — The average Singaporean can expect to live 85.4 years in 2040, up 2.1 years from the average of 83.3 years in 2016, according to a new study by a global health research organisation.

    Singapore is expected to maintain its third-place ranking in average life expectancy in 2040, if recent health trends continue.

    By then, Spaniards are expected to live the longest — an average of 85.8 years — pipping the Japanese, who are expected to live an average of 85.7 years.

    Other countries in the top 10 are expected to be Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Israel, France, Luxembourg and Australia.

    The new study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington also forecasts alternative scenarios. The average life expectancy in Singapore is expected to decrease by as much as 0.2 years in a worse health scenario, which will occur if the factors that influence premature death are higher than projected.

    Published on Wednesday (Oct 17) in The Lancet journal, the study projects a significant increase in deaths from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, and lung cancer.

    In 2040, the top 10 causes of premature death in Singapore will largely be similar to current leading causes.

    They will include lower respiratory infections, ischaemic heart disease — a disease characterised by reduced blood supply to the heart — Alzheimer’s disease, lung cancer and chronic kidney disease.

    But instead of suicide and breast cancer, which are among the leading causes now, hypertensive heart disease and COPD will be among the top 10 causes in 2040, according to the study.

    “The future of the world’s health is not preordained, and there is a wide range of plausible trajectories,” said Dr Kyle Foreman, the institute’s director of data science and lead author of the study.

    “But whether we see significant progress or stagnation depends on how well or poorly health systems address key health drivers.”

    Dr Foreman said the top health drivers that explain most of the future trajectory for premature death are high blood pressure, high body mass index, high blood sugar, tobacco use and alcohol use. Air pollution was the sixth health driver.

    The study covered 195 countries and territories.

    Fifty-nine, including China, are projected to surpass a life expectancy of 80 years by 2040.

    At the same time, Central African Republic, Lesotho, Somalia, and Zimbabwe have projected life expectancies below 65 years in 2040, indicating persistent global disparities in survival if current trends hold, the researchers said.

    “In a substantial number of countries, too many people will continue earning relatively low incomes, remain poorly educated and die prematurely," Dr Christopher Murray, the institute’s director, said.

    “But nations could make faster progress by helping people tackle the major risks, especially smoking and poor diet.”

    Besides China, other nations that are expected to substantially increase their life expectancy ranking in 2040 include Syria, Nigeria and Indonesia.

    Palestine is expected to see the biggest dip in ranking, alongside the United States, which is expected to drop from 43rd position in 2016 to 64th in 2040, with average lifespan at 79.8 years — the biggest decrease for high income countries.

    The researchers modelled 250 causes and cause groups from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study 2016. They used estimates from the study to generate predictions for 2017 to 2040.

    They also accounted for the relationship between risk factors and health outcomes for 79 independent drivers of health such as smoking, high body mass index and lack of clean water.
     
  4. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Spain to beat Japan in world life expectancy league table for 2040
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...japan-2040-world-life-expectancy-league-table

    Mediterranean lifestyle takes effect in Spain but US continues to drop down table

    Sarah Boseley Health editor
    Tue 16 Oct 2018 23.30 BST


    [​IMG]
    Fresh produce on sale in Bilbao, Spain. Photograph: Alamy

    People in Spain are predicted to have the longest life expectancy in the world by 2040 – beating Japan into second place – and much of the reason is to do with the way they eat, according to the authors of the most comprehensive study of the global burden of disease.

    In the years to come, the biggest threats to our health and longevity will be obesity, high blood pressure and blood sugar, tobacco use and drinking alcohol, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, US, which has produced the forecasts.

    “Spain does really well in those,” said Dr Christopher Murray, director of the IHME at the University of Washington, “although tobacco is an area where they could be better. But current life expectancy is very good.” The Spanish, who are expected to have an average lifespan of 85.8 years, do particularly well in terms of diet, he said. Spain’s health ministry funded the Predimed study, the biggest investigation into the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

    Japan, which has for many years enjoyed the highest life expectancy on the planet, is set to lose its crown, according to the Global Burden of Disease study published online by the IHME and in the Lancet medical journal, with an average lifespan just slightly behind at 85.7 years. “Men are not doing so well,” said Murray.

    “Smoking is probably part of that and obesity has gone up for men but really not for women.”

    [​IMG]

    The data demonstrate the health improvements if policies are adopted that drive down smoking, among other lifestyle factors. Photograph: Dani Cardona/Reuters

    The data from the study, which is continually updated with research and statistics from every country in the world. For the first time, the team have produced forecasts not only for the most likely life expectancy and health outcomes for 195 countries and territories, but also best and worst case scenarios.

    “In my mind the difference between better and worse outcomes is what governments and the global community could achieve,” said Murray. The data demonstrate what will happen if policies are adopted that drive down smoking, improve the supply of clean water, reduce obesity or tackle air pollution.

    The authors say that all countries are likely to experience a slight increase in life expectancy, but the rise will be slower than previously. The UK is likely to rise up the league table from 26th place to 23rd, with life expectancy increasing from 80.8 years in 2016 to 83.3 years in 2040.

    The top 10 causes of death in the UK will be ischaemic heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, lung cancer, lower respiratory infections, COPD, colon and rectum cancer, stroke, breast cancer, prostate cancer and pancreatic cancer. But there is “great potential to alter the downward trajectory of health” by addressing key risk factors, levels of education and income, the authors say.

    The US will fall 20 places, from 43rd to 64th, as other countries surge past. The average lifespan of 78.7 years will rise only slightly to 79.8 years.

    The US has been tumbling down the life expectancy league for a while, said Murray, worsened recently by the impact of deaths linked to the opioid crisis. “We really see this slowing down of progress. There is a whole literature about why the US has been progressively underperforming compared to Europe,” he said.

    There was nothing in the trends to suggest this would change. On the really big causes of death, such as heart disease, chronic respiratory disease and injuries, “the trends are not as favourable as what we are seeing in Australia, New Zealand or western Europe.”

    Murray said he was disappointed at the continuing gulf in life expectancy between the best and worst performing nations in the league table. “I was hoping that by 2040 we would have more convergence than we are seeing and that the world would be less unequal,” he said.

    The bottom ranked nation, Lesotho in southern Africa, is expected to have life expectancy of only 57.3 by 2040 with the Central African Republic on 58.4, Zimbabwe on 61.3 and Somalia on 63.6. The IHME team are warning that a resurgence of HIV/Aids could further decrease life expectancy.

    “Inequalities will continue to be large,” said Murray. “The gap between the ‘better’ and ‘worse’ scenarios will narrow but will still be significant. In a substantial number of countries, too many people will continue earning relatively low incomes, remain poorly educated, and die prematurely. But nations could make faster progress by helping people tackle the major risks, especially smoking and poor diet.”
     
  5. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    US tops global competitiveness rating, Singapore takes 2nd spot: WEF
    http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GCR2018/05FullReport/TheGlobalCompetitivenessReport2018.pdf

    [​IMG]
    The skyline of midtown Manhattan in New York City is seen from the United Nations headquarters on Jul 20, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)


    17 Oct 2018 09:06AM (Updated: 17 Oct 2018 09:26AM)

    GENEVA: The US economy topped the World Economic Forum's annual global competitiveness survey for the first time since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, benefiting from a new ranking methodology this year, the Swiss body said on Tuesday (Oct 16).

    Singapore came in at 2nd ahead of Germany (3rd), Switzerland (4th) - which was top last year - and Japan (5th).

    The WEF, which hosts the annual Davos conference of business and political elites, said it used a new methodology for the 2018 edition of its annual Global Competitiveness Report to reflect shifts in a world increasingly transformed by new, digital technologies.

    This year's report studied how 140 economies fared when measured against 98 indicators organised into 12 pillars, including institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, business dynamism and innovation capability.

    Singapore had a score of 83.5 with "a very strong performance across the board", the WEF report said.

    It ranked tops for transport infrastructure, health and trade openness.

    "Openness is the defining feature of this global trading hub and one of the main drivers of its economic success. Singapore leads the Infrastructure pillar with a near-perfect score of 95.7. In particular, it boasts world-class transport infrastructure, services and connectivity," the WEF report said.

    The United States achieved the "best overall performance" with a score of 85.6, WEF added.

    'INNOVATION POWERHOUSE'

    "They're an innovation power house," Saadia Zahidi, a member of the WEF's managing board, told AFP.

    "They do well in terms of labour markets, they do well in terms of market size, they do fairly well in terms of institutions," she said.

    When asked if President Donald Trump could take credit for the ranking, Thierry Geiger, head of analytics and quantitive research at WEF, stressed that most of the data used in the report was from before Trump came to power last year.

    "The things we capture are long-term drivers," he told reporters.

    Zahidi meanwhile said "there are also a lot of worrying signs" for US competitiveness.

    She pointed to the country's low score in terms of participation by women in the labour force, where it ranked 37th, as well as 40th place in terms of press freedom.

    WEF also stressed the "importance of openness for competitiveness," including low-tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and ease of hiring foreign labour.

    "The data suggest that global economic health would be positively impacted by a return to greater openness and integration," WEF said.

    Overall, the United States scored an average of 85.6 points when the nearly 100 indicators were measured on a scale of 0 to 100, and was followed by Singapore and Germany.

    Switzerland meanwhile landed in fourth place, with a score of 82.6, after nine years at the top of the WEF ranking.

    On average, countries around the world scored 60 points on the ranking - a full 40 points away from what WEF considers the optimal conditions for a competitive economy.

    WEF founder Klaus Schwab said understanding and being open to the technologies driving the so-called "fourth industrial revolution" was vital to a country's competitiveness.

    "I foresee a new global divide between countries who understand innovative transformations and those that don't," he said in a statement.

    Zahidi however stressed that "technology is not a silver bullet on its own."

    "Countries must invest in people and institutions to deliver on the promise of technology."

    Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/new...tiveness-rating-world-economic-forum-10834810
     

    Attached Files:

    #9585 Loh, Oct 17, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
  6. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Malaysia’s ultra-rich vs Singapore’s: Who’s wealthier?
    https://www.todayonline.com/world/malaysias-ultra-rich-vs-singapores-whos-wealthier

    [​IMG]
    Reuters and TODAY file photo

    A recent study showed that 487 individuals are considered ultra-rich in Malaysia.

    Published21 October, 2018
    Updated 21 October, 2018

    KUALA LUMPUR — If you have ever wondered how many ultra-rich individuals Malaysia has, a study has shown that a mere 487 are considered millionaires or billionaires.

    These are individuals who have at least US$50 million (S$69 million) and up to US$500 million (S$689 million) of wealth, according to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Databook 2018 that was released earlier this week.

    And it’s actually about half of the number of super-rich individuals (998) in neighbouring Singapore, which is also the only Asian country to be ranked in the top 10 richest countries in terms of wealth per adult.

    For the record, Credit Suisse data shows the top 10 countries with mean wealth per adult above US$100,000 (S$138,000) as Switzerland (US$530,240), Australia, US, Belgium, Norway, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Singapore (US$283,260) and France.

    This is in contrast to the global figure of US$63,100.

    The next group of countries is the “intermediate wealth” group with mean wealth ranging from US$25,000-US$100,000 which includes China, new EU members, those from Latin America and the Middle East.

    Fast-developing Asian nations like Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are in the next tier of “frontier wealth” (US$5,000-25,000), along with huge and heavily populated countries like India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Philippines and Turkey.

    The frontier wealth group also includes most of Latin America, Mediterranean border nations, transition nations outside the EU, South Africa and other leading sub-Saharan nations. The remaining countries — mostly in central Africa and central and south Asia — have wealth per adult of below US$5,000.

    Malaysia, which has been wanting to join the high-income nation category for years, is in fact categorised as an “upper middle-income” country with total wealth as of this year at US$1,988 billion or at 0.6 per cent of the global wealth.

    Malaysia’s wealth per adult almost quadrupled from US$23,853 in 2000 to US$93,004 in 2018, the Credit Suisse databook showed.

    About the super, super rich
    But zooming back in to the 487 ultra-rich individuals as of this year, only 33 of them have a wealth of at least US$500 million or RM2 billion.

    Out of these 487 persons, 184 are either already billionaires or have at least RM415 million assets (US$100 million-US$500 million category), and the remaining 270 are in the US$50 million-US$100 million category.

    One step below the ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals are 46,215 individuals who are categorised as high net worth (HNW) individuals, namely 2,697 in the US$10 million-US$50 million category, 3,963 in the US$5 million-US$10 million category, and a significantly larger number of 39,555 individuals in the US$1 million-US$5 million category.

    As a whole when compared against all five ultra-rich and rich wealth categories, Malaysia is placed at the 39th spot out of a select 50 countries compared by Credit Suisse. Singapore is at the 21st spot.

    Looking at just those in the US$500 million and above category out of these 50 countries, US is unbeatable with 1,144 billionaires, while China is second with 708 billionaires, followed by India (225), Germany (203), Russia (161), Hong Kong (132), UK (117), Switzerland (97), Italy (92), Canada (85), Australia (80), Korea (79), Japan (71), Thailand (70), Taiwan (66), France, Turkey (64), Brazil (63), Spain and Sweden (61).

    Singapore has 46 of such billionaires, followed closely by Indonesia (44), Mexico (39), Israel (36), and then Malaysia at 33, piping countries such as Norway (30), Austria, Finland, Netherlands (28), Saudi Arabia (27), UAE (26), Ireland (25), Philippines, Czech Republic (24) and Denmark (20).

    Rounding this up is Peru (18), Poland (17), Colombia, Belgium, New Zealand (16), Chile (15), Greece, Portugal, Kuwait (13), Argentina, South Africa (10) and Romania (3). Hungary, Vietnam, Pakistan had none in this category.

    [​IMG]
    While the identities of the billionaires and millionaires were not listed in the global study, Credit Suisse offered an insight into the profile of such individuals which it said was heavily concentrated in particular regions and countries.

    Even when they live in different continents, these UHNW and HNW individuals tend to share similar lifestyles and participate in the same global markets for luxury goods, Credit Suisse said.

    “The wealth portfolios of these individuals are also likely to be more similar, with more of a focus on financial assets and, in particular, equity holdings in public companies traded in international markets,” it said in the databook.

    In the definition used by Credit Suisse, net worth or wealth is defined as the value of financial assets and non-financial assets (mainly housing) owned by households, after deducting their debts.

    Not feeling that rich?
    If it feels like the super-rich are an exclusive club in Malaysia, that’s because these 46,702 UHNW and HNW individuals collectively only amount to 0.2 per cent (not even the proverbial 1 per cent) of the 21.372 million adults in Malaysia.

    The remaining 99.8 per cent Malaysian adults have a wealth that either touches or falls below US$1 million, with the bulk or 60.6 per cent with wealth below US$10,000, while 36.2 per cent have wealth of US$10,000-US$100,000, and three per cent at the higher wealth range of US$100,000-US$1 million.

    Malaysia also has a relatively high Gini index value of 82 per cent based on the wealth distribution patterns among Malaysian adults, which suggests high wealth inequality.

    As for Malaysian households, 685,000 in Malaysia earn more than US$100,000, while 47,000 households earn more than US$1 million.

    But this wealth gap is not unique to Malaysia, as a fairly similar breakdown in terms of wealth distribution among adults is seen globally: 63.9 per cent (below US$10,000), 26.57 per cent (US$10,000-US$100,000), 8.68 per cent (US$100,000-US$1 million), 0.84 per cent (above US$1 million).

    Credit Suisse notes that this means 63 per cent of the global population has only 1.9 per cent of global wealth, while only 0.8 per cent of adults are millionaires that collectively own 45 per cent of all assets.

    Credit Suisse also said an adult only needs US$4,210 in assets after subtracting debts to be counted as among the wealthiest half of the world as of mid-2018.

    “However, a person needs at least US$93,170 to belong to the top 10 per cent of global wealth holders and US$871,320 to be a member of the top 1 per cent. Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1 per cent of total wealth.

    “In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 85 per cent of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 47 per cent of global assets,” it said.

    Earlier this week, Khazanah Research Institute’s latest report highlighted the inequalities for Malaysians, but with a different focus on households and income inequality instead of individuals and wealth. MALAY MAIL ONLINE
     
  7. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore ranks third in educational mobility, but gaps remain: Report
    https://www.oecd.org/education/school/50293148.pdf

    By Alfred Chua

    [​IMG]
    TODAY file photo

    The report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only 10 per cent of 15-year-old students in Singapore from lower SES attained equivalent scores in Science that the top quarter of the country achieved.

    Published23 October, 2018
    Updated 23 October, 2018

    SINGAPORE — The Republic has come in third in the world for educational mobility, behind Cyprus and the Russian Federation respectively, according to the Equity in Education report released on Tuesday (Oct 23).

    More than 55 per cent of adults aged 26 years old and above in Singapore attained higher education than their parents. This is higher than the average of around 40 per cent obtained by 33 countries studied in the report.

    However, the report also identified gaps in areas such as how well students from lower socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds do compared to the top scorers in the nation.

    The same report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that only 10 per cent of 15-year-old students in Singapore from lower SES attained equivalent scores in Science that the top quarter of the country achieved.

    YOUNGER ADULT COHORTS MORE EDUCATIONALLY UPWARD MOBILE
    The report found that for Singapore, “equity has improved markedly over time”.

    The Republic, along with six other countries, enjoyed higher upward educational mobility than the previous age cohort.

    “Among the oldest cohort, those with highly educated parents were 55 percentage points more likely to complete tertiary education than those with low-educated parents; yet among the youngest cohort, those with highly educated parents were only 36 percentage points more likely than those with low-educated parents to complete that level of education,” the report found.

    About 21 per cent of adults aged between 56 and 65 completed tertiary education — defined as attaining Bachelor’s degrees, or polytechnic diplomas — and 74 per cent of adults aged between 26 and 35 completed tertiary education.

    Separately, the report also found that the Republic’s “disadvantaged students” performed well against fixed international benchmarks, which the report categorised as core-skills resilience, and against students across the world, known as international resilience.

    “Disadvantaged students” refers to students in the lowest 25 per cent socio-economic status of the country.

    FEWER LOW SES STUDENTS OBTAIN SCORES EQUIVALENT TO TOP PERFORMERS
    However, not many were performing to standards attained by the top quarter in Science, a measure the report categorised as national resilience.

    It was found that among 15-year-old students from lower-SES backgrounds, only 10 per cent were able to attain a score of at least 631 in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) for science in 2015.

    For the Republic, a score of 631 is the 75th percentile score for science.

    In a media briefing on Tuesday, Singapore’s Education Ministry (MOE) said that the “relatively low” national resilience is “a function” of the fact that Singapore’s top performers do very well.

    Compared to Finland, which has a 75th percentile score of 599, 14 per cent of its lower-SES students are able to score that, or higher. Comparatively, about 17 per cent of Singaporean “disadvantaged students” are able to hit 599 and above at the Pisa for science.

    Commenting on the report, an MOE spokesperson said it was “heartening” to note that inter-generational education mobility has improved across the years.

    “There is evidence that our efforts in levelling up our students are paying off,” he added.

    But the spokesperson stressed that more work needs to be done to ensure good social diversity and mixing — a point raised in the report as well — in the school system.
     
  8. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore has highest gaps in sense of belonging at school between students of different socio-economic statuses: Report

    By Alfred Chua

    [​IMG]
    TODAY file photo

    In Singapore in 2015, about 80 per cent of students of higher socio-economic status reported that they felt a sense of belonging at school, while about 70 per cent of “disadvantaged students” felt the same way, leading to a gap of about 10 percentage points.

    Published23 October, 2018
    Updated 24 October, 2018
    SINGAPORE — A report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has listed Singapore as having the largest gap in students’ sense of belonging at school, going by their socio-economic status (SES).

    Worldwide, this gap between students of higher and lower socio-economic statuses has widened for six countries, namely Singapore, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, the Slovak Republic and Sweden.

    Only four countries — Bulgaria, Japan, the Netherlands and Portugal — have seen their gaps close.

    The Equity in Education: Breaking Down Barriers to Social Mobility report, released on Tuesday (Oct 23), takes part of its data from the 2015 results of the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which are administered to about 540,000 15-year-olds in 72 countries.

    In Singapore in 2015, about 80 per cent of students of higher SES reported that they felt a sense of belonging at school, while about 70 per cent of “disadvantaged students” felt the same way, leading to a gap of about 10 percentage points.

    Comparatively, the average across OECD countries was 77 per cent of advantaged students saying that they felt they belong at school, whereas some 69 per cent of disadvantaged students felt the same. The socio-economic gap was thus 8 percentage points.

    Back in 2012, when Singapore also took part in Pisa, close to 82 per cent of students of higher SES felt a sense of belonging at school, while about 81 per cent of “disadvantaged students” felt the same way. The gap then was about 1 percentage point.

    “Disadvantaged students” are defined as students in the bottom 25 per cent of the socio-economic index in the country, whereas the “advantaged students” are from the top 25 per cent.

    Students’ sense of belonging at school is the extent to which they felt accepted by and connected to their peers and part of the school community.

    Pisa measured this by asking students to rate — from strongly agree to strongly disagree — whether they felt a sense of belonging at school.

    The OECD report noted that, in general, students from “socio-economically advantaged” families enjoy a stronger sense of belonging at school than “disadvantaged students”.

    It found that, across the countries surveyed, “interestingly… the socio-economic differences in sense of belonging at school disappear once student performance is taken into account”.

    “This suggests that disadvantaged students who score higher enjoy a similarly strong sense of belonging at school as their more advantaged peers,” the report stated.

    HARD TO ACCOUNT FOR WIDE GAP
    Experts contacted by TODAY said that it was tricky to draw a conclusive explanation for Singapore’s large gap in Pisa 2015, given that it was a single question posed to students.

    Associate Professor Jason Tan from the National Institute of Education suggested that one possible factor for the gap is the distribution of students of different SES across schools.

    There is evidence to suggest that there is a “disproportionate percentage of high SES students who tend to be enrolled in ‘more prestigious secondary schools’”, and the converse is also true, he said.

    He also said that there is insufficient data from the report’s results, given that Pisa did not take into account questions of factors — such as teachers, school leadership, as well as peers — leading to them feeling (or not feeling) a sense of belonging at school.

    These questions could be useful to the Ministry of Education (MOE), as well as educators, to better understand the issue, he added.

    Dr Timothy Chan, director of SIM Global Education’s academic division, said that to close this “perception gap”, schools need to have a “well representation” of students from across different socio-economic backgrounds.

    “If the situation ends up that some schools attract more students with higher SES… then it may lead to (a widening of the gap),” he added.

    Assoc Prof Tan said that one long-term effect of such a gap is how parents view their involvement in their school-going children’s education.

    Stressing that it was speculative — given the lack of ample evidence — he said that parents who previously had poor experiences in school might view their involvement differently.

    “Similarly, someone with a good experience in school… (and a sense of belonging to their school), would want the same for their children,” he added.

    Sociologist Tan Ern Ser from the National University of Singapore said that “in the worst-case scenario, the education system would become less of a vehicle for upward mobility, and in turn, lead to greater polarisation in society at large”.

    ‘ALL SCHOOLS WELL-RESOURCED’: MOE
    The OECD report highlighted a trend from earlier reports that students from better socio-economic backgrounds tended to perform better at Pisa.

    “Hence, disadvantaged students attending disadvantaged schools are… doubly disadvantaged as they strive for achievement,” the report added.

    “Disadvantaged schools” refers to schools in the bottom 25 per cent of the national distribution, based on the average SES levels of students in the schools.

    On average, among OECD countries, 48 per cent of disadvantaged students attended disadvantaged schools.

    The MOE said that in Singapore, that figure is around 46 per cent.

    However, Ms Cindy Khoo, divisional director of MOE’s planning division, said that some clarification was needed on OECD’s use of “doubly disadvantaged” in its report.

    “In Singapore’s context, all our schools are well-resourced by international standards. Therefore, our lower-SES students in what OECD termed as ‘disadvantaged schools’ are actually not worse-off in terms of provisions,” she said.

    “Nevertheless, MOE has been monitoring the trend independently of OECD and is concerned about the slow creeping up of the proportion,” she added.

    The ministry regularly reviews the admissions processes and students’ total educational experience, “to ensure our schools do not become closed circles, and that our students continue to have opportunities to interact with people from diverse backgrounds”, Ms Khoo said.
     
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    Singapore capable of dealing with public health threats, can improve response to nuclear emergencies: Report

    [​IMG]
    TODAY file photo

    Published24 October, 2018
    Updated 24 October, 2018

    SINGAPORE — The Republic, which dealt with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003, the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 and the Zika virus in 2016, has a highly developed capacity to detect and respond to potential public health emergencies.

    In a recent assessment released on Wednesday (Oct 24), international and local experts gave the country full marks in areas such as lawmaking, food safety, immunisation and diseases spread between animals and people.

    But Singapore can improve its management of radiation and nuclear emergencies, said the experts appointed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), who worked with national experts in conducting the assessment.

    For instance, Singapore can strengthen its coordination in radiological emergency response, incident investigation and site recovery efforts.

    Radioactive waste management and the national emergency response plan for incidents involving marine transportation of nuclear material can also be further developed.

    The National Environment Agency’s radiation protection and nuclear science department is the regulatory authority for radiation protection and administers the Radiation Protection Act and Regulations.

    "The Government will carefully review the findings and recommendations made by WHO to further strengthen our capabilities in dealing with existing and future challenges from public health threats," the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement.

    Singapore had volunteered last year for a Joint External Evaluation of its implementation of International Health Regulations.

    The regulations requires countries to build a minimum set of core capacities so they can better protect their citizens, and the citizens of other countries, during outbreaks and health emergencies.

    The process began with self-evaluation in February last year overseen by MOH's Public Health Group.

    From April 16 to 20 this year, external experts jointly reviewed Singapore’s core capacities in 19 technical areas such as antimicrobial resistance and real-time surveillance.

    The 10-member team included Professor Paul Effler of Western Australia’s Department of Health and Dr Li Ailan from the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific.

    Singapore scored four to five (out of a maximum of five) for all indicators in 18 out of the 19 areas, except in radiation emergencies.

    “Identified strengths included the use of innovation and technology to strengthen disease detection and response, collegiality and coordination across agencies, and a demonstrated commitment to improving policies and practices based on lessons learnt during real-life events and simulations,” said Singapore and the WHO in a joint media release.

    The experts encouraged Singapore to intensify its support for regional and global health security.

    "The next pandemic threat will emerge when we least expect it. We must be prepared," said Dr Li.

    "Everyone has more to do, including countries with advanced health systems like Singapore.”

    MOH said in its statement that it will collaborate with WHO and regional counterparts and is open to offering support and expertise in its areas of strength, adding that given Singapore's position as a regional trade and travel hub, international and regional partnerships are important in preventing and mitigating global health threats.

    Health Minister Gan Kim Yong described the WHO review as "a useful learning experience" for Singapore.
    “We cannot be complacent," he added.

    "We must continue to strengthen our core capabilities to prevent, detect and respond promptly and effectively to public health threats."
     
  10. Loh

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    Keep the ‘escalator’ of social mobility going, or risk anxiety of those in the middle: Tharman

    By Kenneth Cheng

    [​IMG]
    Najeer Yusof/TODAY

    Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (left) and Professor Tommy Koh at a dialogue session on Oct 25, 2018, ahead of a conference to mark the Institute of Policy Studies’ 30th anniversary.

    Published26 October, 2018
    Updated 26 October, 2018
    SINGAPORE — Urging Singaporeans to keep the “escalator” of social mobility moving, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam warned that once it stops, those caught in the middle will be steeped in “pervasive anxiety” of not only trailing those advancing further, but also looking over their shoulder at those who are catching up.

    Mr Tharman was speaking at a dialogue session, chaired by Ambassador Tommy Koh, on Thursday evening (Oct 25) — ahead of a conference to mark the 30th anniversary of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

    He said: “Once the escalator that carries everyone up stops, the problems of inequality and all the problems of me-against-you, this-group-against-that-group, become much sharper. And this is exactly what has happened in a whole range of advanced economies.”

    Mr Tharman is the latest in a string of government leaders — including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung — who have weighed in on the hot-button issues of social mobility and inequality, which have ignited a spirited debate in recent weeks.

    While Singapore is doing better than most in spurring social mobility now, it is going to face more challenges, he said.

    This is because the country has succeeded in driving “waves of mobility” for a population that largely started off poor, and have excelled in school, worked hard and done well in life.

    “Those whose grandparents were poor, had parents who were not so poor, (they) now are no longer poor and are quite well-off, and they invest in their children as much as they can, so that their children can do well,” he said.

    At the other end, those who have not succeeded find that the odds stacked against their success in life have increased.

    This means Singapore needs to work harder to keep mobility going, which requires intervention from early in life to “help people do well for themselves”.

    Social mobility is at the “heart and soul of our ambition” as a society, Mr Tharman said, and it is critical that Singapore sustains a system in which its people are moving up the social ladder.

    Inequality becomes a sharper and more brittle issue when stagnation in the middle class happens.

    “This, too, is what we see in a range of advanced countries: That pervasive anxiety of people in the middle. As someone is catching up, then someone is moving away from them," Mr Tharman said. "So, keep the escalator moving.”

    Social mobility is “much easier” with a moving escalator, as there are more opportunities, new skills to be learnt and new jobs to be obtained. “What I get is not just at the expense of someone else, I can move up without someone else moving down,” he said, noting Singapore has done relatively well in this regard.

    GENERATIONAL INEQUALITY
    “Generational inequality” has formed a “good part” of the inequality here, Mr Tharman said.

    More than 60 per cent of those aged 55 and above who had no more than secondary school education, performed and worked hard in simple jobs, are now at the lower end of the escalator, even as subsequent generations have moved up.

    He said the focus should be to help mature workers in their mid-50s to -60s work for as long as they please, to do so with dignity, and at a decent wage with the support of employers, the Government and the public.

    Following on from this point, Prof Koh's view is that inequality will not disappear when the older generation fades away. Singapore has become increasingly stratified and unequal in wealth, income, occupation, housing type and other areas, and has become a “very class-conscious society”, he said.

    While the Deputy Prime Minister said that Singapore was much less class-conscious than many societies, it is at risk of becoming more so.

    He spoke about a toilet attendant he had a chat with before the dialogue. The man told him that his wages have gone up since he started working on the job eight years ago, and his employer has assigned him to go for training.

    Prof Koh then said that Singapore’s elite does not show respect for low-wage workers such as cleaners, gardeners and security guards, who are “treated as invisible”.

    Responding, Mr Tharman said that ageism is still an issue here, and ordinary low-wage workers deserve more respect and regard. This was not only a problem for the elite, he said, and everyone from customers to the public, and critically, employers — with the Government’s support — have a part to play.

    TACKLING POVERTY
    While Singapore ranks among the top in terms of per-capita income, Prof Koh — who is special adviser to the IPS — noted that there are many poor people here. For instance, his research estimates that 100,000 to 140,000 households lack the means to pay for their basic human needs.

    Mr Tharman said that there is the need to find “every way possible” to lift these people out of the poverty cycle to avoid the problem persisting over generations. “There is a risk of this becoming entrenched and passing on from one generation to the next… We have to work harder at this task.”

    Having said that, he noted that those living in absolute poverty here are in much smaller numbers than elsewhere, and there has been a “dramatic transformation in the middle of society”. This is borne out in the increased standards of living, and those in the lower-income groups are now five times better off than in the past, after adjusting for increases in cost of living.

    At the dialogue, infectious diseases expert and opposition politician Paul Tambyah highlighted the gaps in the lifespans of people from different ethnic groups in Singapore. He asked if more needs to be done about the structural factors that led to such a form of inequality, where those from the lower-income groups die at a younger age than those from higher-income ones.

    Mr Tharman said that a variety of factors, including lifestyles and diets, lead to shorter lifespans, and not income levels per se.

    Dr Gillian Koh, IPS’ deputy director for research, asked for Mr Tharman’s assessment of the progress of Singapore’s Progressive Wage Model for cleaners, security and landscaping workers, and whether a minimum wage strategy should be considered.

    He replied that the Progressive Wage Model has worked quite well so far, with significant wage increases seen over the years. Minimum wage models in other countries do not end up benefiting those from lower-income families in many instances, but those largely from the middle-income groups or above, who happen to do lower-end jobs, he said.

    SECTION 377A: NO ONE SHOULD FEEL DEMONISED IN S’PORE
    Wading into the topic of a growing intolerance in society, Professor Tommy Koh pointed to how a religious organisation recently invited a friend to speak on a secular topic at a conference, only to have his invitation withdrawn because he had signed a petition to repeal Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises gay sex.

    “We can disagree, but there’s no need to demonise each other,” he said.

    He also urged the Government to show greater tolerance, expressing hope that it will no longer ban movies and withdraw book grants. “Let’s be big-hearted. We’ve reached a stage of political and cultural maturity where we could accommodate different points of view,” said Prof Koh, to applause from the audience.

    In September, Prof Koh called on the gay community in Singapore to challenge Section 377A of Penal Code again, after India’s Supreme Court struck down its law against consensual gay sex.

    Mr Tharman said that no one should feel demonised in Singapore, which is a diverse society. “We have to respect each other and make sure that, whatever our views on specific topics, there’s a solid core of shared aspirations and beliefs that hold us together,” he added.
     
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    Discussion about social enterprise hawker centres ‘useful’ to Singapore’s Unesco nomination for hawker culture

    By Louisa Tang

    [​IMG]
    Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

    The Our SG Hawker Culture travelling exhibition will be showcased to 13 locations over the next three months, including Our Tampines Hub, Toa Payoh Hub, and Central Public Library.

    Published25 October, 2018
    Updated 26 October, 2018
    SINGAPORE — Weighing in on the controversy over hawker centres run by social enterprises, an official from the National Heritage Board (NHB) said it was “useful” that the public debate took place before Singapore nominates its hawker culture for inclusion in Unesco's intangible cultural heritage list.

    Mr Alvin Tan, NHB's assistant chief executive of policy and community, said that the remedial actions and lessons learnt from an ongoing review of the management model will be incorporated into the country's Unesco submission. He was speaking to reporters on Thursday (Oct 25) at the unveiling of a travelling exhibition on Singapore's hawker culture, held at Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre.

    Singapore has to submit the nomination bid to Unesco by March next year, with the results expected to be announced at the end of 2020.

    One of the five criteria that nominees have to fulfil for inclusion in the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is an encouragement of public dialogue, Mr Tan said.

    “The current discussion about operating models and all that are good examples of dialogue that’s been generated through the raising of public awareness of the Unesco listing.”

    In recent weeks, the social enterprise-run hawker centre model has come under fire for some alleged heavy-handed practices, including high rental charges and various fees that hawkers have to pay the operators.

    Last week, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, announced that the National Environment Agency (NEA) will be doing a stock-take of the model, and has asked the agency to quickly iron out problems that have surfaced.

    On Thursday, Mr Tan pointed out that another Unesco criterion specifies that safeguarding measures must be put in place to protect and promote hawker culture.

    “When dialogues like these take place and eventually (the relevant agencies) come up with solutions, this will reinforce... how are we safeguarding hawker culture for the future,” he said.

    “We will eventually incorporate all the solutions that the relevant agencies, such as NEA, announce into the nomination dossier,” he added.

    With the recent controversy, Mr Tan called on Singaporeans to focus on coming together to fulfil the objective of successfully inscribing the nation’s hawker culture on the Unesco list.

    The decision to nominate the country's hawker culture to be on the coveted Unesco list was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally this year, where he spoke about hawker centres being a unique part of Singapore's society, heritage and identity.

    A 14-member committee — co-chaired by the chiefs of NHB, NEA and the Federation of Merchants'
    Association, Singapore (FMAS) — has been appointed to oversee and guide Singapore’s nominate process.

    The Our SG Hawker Culture exhibition at Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre is part of the public outreach outreach efforts by the committee. It will travel to 13 locations over the next three months, including Our Tampines Hub, Toa Payoh Hub, and Central Public Library.

    The FMAS will be organising engagement sessions with hawkers’ associations and hawkers to gather feedback and support from hawkers.

    In a statement on Thursday, the Singapore Business Federation said that it is calling on its 26,000 members to support the Unesco bid.

    Its chariman SS Teo said: “While socio-economic factors exert pressure on the long-term viability of the hawker trade, it is nonetheless a much-cherished part of Singapore’s cultural heritage, and therefore something that we ought to protect for as long as possible.

    “Unesco's recognition will represent an affirmative step towards preserving this legacy for future generations.”
     
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    Graduate employability: NUS ranks No. 10 in global poll

    By Asyraf Kamil

    [​IMG]

    Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

    Visitors at the NUS Career Fair. Graduates from the university have made the list of the world’s top 10 most employable, according to a global survey of recruiters.

    Published15 November, 2018
    Updated 15 November, 2018

    SINGAPORE — National University of Singapore (NUS) graduates have made the list of the world’s top 10 most employable, according to a global survey of recruiters.

    NUS jumped six spots to be placed 10th in the latest Global University Employability Ranking, which measures how universities perform on graduate employability.

    Now in its eight year, the survey is done annually by Emerging, a French human resource consultancy, and published by the Times Higher Education.

    NUS is the only Singapore university in the global top 10, and among Asia’s top two universities for employment.

    “We are delighted that our graduates have been ranked top 10 globally by employers around the world. NUS strives to ensure that our graduates are well-prepared for the digital economy, with deep expertise in and across disciplines, core life skills as well as a growth mindset that will position them well for a world of disruption and change,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye.

    He added that students at the university “have the advantage of customising their learning journeys from a comprehensive and holistic suite of educational pathways”.

    These include initiatives that range from global study opportunities, residential living and learning experiences, to industry internships and immersion in entrepreneurial hubs in Asia and beyond.

    Among other institutions in the top 10 are Harvard University and Stanford University in the United States and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. The University of Tokyo — the only other Asian university in the top 10 — took the ninth place, one spot ahead of NUS.

    The other Singapore university in the ranking — the Nanyang Technological University — jumped 18 spots to be ranked 73rd this year, an improvement from last year’s ranking of 91st spot.

    The global annual survey was conducted with 7,000 recruiters and managing directors of international companies from 22 countries who had cast around 75,000 votes for universities they felt were the best for graduate employability.

    Together they represent employers that have recruited more than 250,000 young graduates in the past 12 months.
     
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    Loh Regular Member

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    S’pore to host Asean Summit from Nov 11 to 15, prepares to hand over chair to Thailand

    By Kenneth Cheng

    Published10 November, 2018
    Updated 10 November, 2018

    [​IMG]
    SINGAPORE — The Republic will host the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and related meetings from Sunday (Nov 11) to Thursday, as the country prepares to hand over the regional grouping’s rotating chairmanship to Thailand.

    The meetings, chaired by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, will be held at the Suntec Singapore Convention Centre, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement on Saturday.

    At the summit, leaders of the 10 Asean member states are expected to adopt the Asean Smart Cities Framework, which lays out the regional grouping’s definition of a smart city.

    They are also set to take stock of Asean’s achievements this year in strengthening “resilience and innovation”, the key themes under Singapore’s chairmanship, the PMO said.

    The regional leaders will also discuss ways to take the grouping forward at a time of “geopolitical and economic change”.

    The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will also be on the agenda, and Asean leaders and their partners are expected to discuss the progress of negotiations on the trade pact.

    The partnership between Asean’s 10 member states, and Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea will create the world’s largest trading bloc, covering a third of the world’s present annual gross domestic product.

    In September, at the World Economic Forum on Asean in Hanoi, Mr Lee said Asean was doing its utmost to make progress on RCEP, and hoped to achieve a substantial conclusion by the year’s end, though he had added that this was “not yet assured”.

    Discussions on the trade pact will continue into 2019, TODAY understands.

    In the coming week, there will be various fora where Asean leaders and their counterparts will exchange views on regional and global issues. For instance, there will be meetings between the regional grouping and China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States, and informal breakfast summits with Australia and India.

    Among the world leaders attending the event are US vice president Mike Pence and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    It will be Mr Putin’s first visit to Singapore as head of state, and he will attend the Asean-Russia Summit and the East Asia Summit (EAS), a regional forum of 18 Asia-Pacific nations.

    The US and Russia were admitted to the EAS in 2011.

    Several prominent personalities have also been invited as guests of Singapore as the Asean chair. They are Mr Sebastian Pinera, president of Chile, which will chair the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum next year, and Ms Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

    On Thursday, Mr Lee will hand over the chairmanship of Asean to Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the event’s closing ceremony.

    Singapore took over from the Philippines as Asean chair in January this year, having last held the post in 2007. Thailand will chair the regional grouping in 2019, before Vietnam takes over in 2020.
     

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