17 March 2019
Do straight-A students make good policymakers? That was the intriguing question discussed at a recent conference I participated in.
The answer, as you would expect, isn’t straightforward. There are brilliant students, and there are brilliant students.
Some have leadership qualities and interpersonal skills and others are only good at studying and doing well in exams. You don’t need straight As to know this.
But there is a reason the question keeps popping up in Singapore, and not only at that Behavioural Sciences Institute (BSI) conference.
This is the country that honed a method of selecting the best and brightest from schools, awarding them prestigious scholarships to top universities overseas for a fast-track career in the elite services in government and the armed forces.
Those who moved into politics to join the ruling party continued their accelerated ministerial climb.
Over the more than 50 years that the scheme has been in place, hundreds of these scholar-mandarins have influenced and shaped policy here, as civil servants and ministers.
What has the result been?
… The writer is also senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 18/03/2019