Straight-A scholars for public service? Time to ‘catch up’ on how to pick talent, forum says, TODAY, 23 February 2019

TODAY and Lianhe Zaobao reported on the conference titled ‘Much More Than Academic Abilities’, organised by the Singapore Management University, which featured speakers Dr Maliki Osman, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, and Yale-NUS College President Tan Tai Yong, amongst others.

TODAY reported that President Tan “lamented the rigidity and undue emphasis on academic abilities in the public sector”, and while he acknowledged that grades can be an indicator of a person’s abilities, he said it is worrying when that becomes the definitive tool of assessment. TODAY and Zaobao noted President Tan saying that he had encountered “personal cases of students who get into all sorts of issues with their new employers in the civil service because of a class of honours they have graduated with” and he hopes that employers in the civil service could look at the students, do all sorts of tests they want to understand their backgrounds… and then look at them as individuals.”

Zaobao noted that a participant at the conference asked whether Yale-NUS College can be more open in terms of letting students organise political dialogues, and President Tan responded that the College already has existing student groups formed by students interested in politics, and the groups had previously organised academic events to discuss political issues, one of which also featured members from the opposition parties.


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