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SDP CEC member Mr Sylvester Lim was recently in Colombo, Sri Lanka to attend the general assembly of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD). He was accompanied by Ms Jaslyn Go.
The three-day conference theme was “Choice and Excellence in Education.” The assembly also saw the handing over of the CALD Chair from the Singapore Democrats to the Liberal Party of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is still recovering from a war with the Tamil Tigers and is rebuilding their infrastructure and education system.
Some Asian countries have huge land masses and mustering the resources required to extend quality educational service to the rural areas remains a challenge.
Mr Lim was particularly interested in the Taiwanese and Japanese experiences.
He noted: “A Taiwanese private school called Forest School with independent funding is offering ‘free’ education and when we say free, we tend to associate it with monetary values. In this case, ‘free’ means free from propaganda and freedom to learn such as individual development and a life-long learning interest.”
The Japanese delegate from the ruling party, the Democratic Party of Japan, said that due to the lack of population growth and the uncertainty of the current financial climate, Japan is introducing a number of fiscal measures.
- Provide free schooling right up to high school
- Monthly allowance for each child
- Increasing spending on education by 5.8%
Japan’s approach is similar to France’s. The French government provides free education right up to the university level, as well as monthly allowance for each child’s education.
Mr Lim chaired one of the sessions at the conference and judging from feedback, this won’t be the last time.
In the meantime, Ms Go used the opportunity to continue to establish and strengthen networks with fellow democrats in the region.
She also managed to sell every copy of SDP’s commemorative magazine that she brought.
CALD and Liberal International (LI) will be visiting Singapore in April.