tv This Is America With Dennis Wholey PBS October 23, 2011 10:00am-10:30am EDT
towe've recently traveled the republic of singapore, a small, called for the region culturally diverse and successful city-state. in less than 50 years, it has transformed itself into one of the most dynamic and productive countries in southeast asia. with limited resources but an openness to innovation, the government has helped to make singapore an ideal place to live, work, and play. "this is america" visits the republic of singapore.
>> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. the singapore tourism board, rye.onis something for e singapore airlines, a great way to fly. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the ctc foundation, afo communications, andthe rotondaro family trust.
we will discover why singapore is a great place to live. it has a population of 5 million people and a diverse ethnic makeup. amazingly, everybody seems to along just fine. >> is there a culture that you can put your finger on? >> one has to understand where we come from. we are a nation of many cultures and ethnic groups. singapore is a young nation. we have a long history. we have a history dating back to the british colonial days. we also have a history dating back to the early 14th century. many people from around the world came through the streets in point. some settled down and became the citizens of this country. when the british came, many chinese, indians came along. arabs came along.
many others came to make this country what is today. we all bring a bit of a background, history, and heritage to this melting pot. although we are founded with individual cultures, we have a respect for each other. we are all living together. >> the three main groups of people, each bring something to the table. >> each brings something to the table. we all go to school together. we have national service together. that is how we bond and get to know each other. something new is coming about. you see that in our performing and visual arts. these are representations of the culture. this will form the heritage of the future of singapore. >> there seems to be some pride
in the fact that everyone gets along. >> absolutely. >> that in itself is unique. this harmony. >> i guess you are right. i think it stems from the earlier colonial days when everyone was living together. the settlers in the early days recognized this. in chinatown, we made sure there is a mosque, a hindu temple, and a chinese temple, catering to all three ethnic groups in chinatown itself. that is the testimony of what's in a more -- with singapore is today. we live with each other in peace and harmony. we go to school together, we serve national service together. we make friends with each other. that is critical. we grew up with each other. >> what would you like americans to know about the heritage of singapore? >> singapore today is a city full of life.
a lot of people think we're dull and boring, but singapore is a 24-hour city. people suddenly realize they will be stuck in a suburban town far away from the city. they miss singapore even before they leave it. for myself, there are some of the arts, cultural, and heritage events in singapore at the community level and national level. there are shows coming into singapore better world class -- that are world class. you put that together with our beautiful cityscape that has been well planned, singapore is very green. there is a lot of old jungle in singapore. i think darden and formed part of his theory from singapore. there is a portion of singapore
dedicated to wallace with a nature reserve. there are vibrant, old districts that are alive with new and old activities. the city has old and new juxtaposed with each other. do come. i hope many americans will understand us better. singapore is very different from the general press description. come and see the difference for yourself. >> singapore'reputations for excellence in education is known worldwide. there are high standards in teacher recruitment and training. there is the goal of unlocking each student's potential. that seems to be at the heart of its success. we spoke with the minister of education. how many students are involved in the public-school system? >> we have half -- we have over half a million children in our school system.
>> is most of the education public education? is there a mix of public and private? >> our school system is almost 100% public. >> what percentage of students who graduate from high school would go on to further education? >> over 95% will go on to university or what we call the institute of technical education. >> it is vocational type of education. how are the teachers recruited? >> we think the teachers at the heart of the educational system. no education system can be better than the quality of the educators. we invest heavily in recruiting
the top graduates. we offer many opportunities for professional development. we offer free career tracks for our teachers -- three career tracks for our teachers. the key to do different aspirations. region they cater to different aspirations. >> how are teachers looked upon by the general public? >> in singapore, there is deep respect for learning and hard work. teachers are very well-regarded in terms of their social standing. we pay above a similar job in the markets. we benchmark the salaries of
teachers against what graduates in the workplace would be earning. we pay above that. a major area for us in the coming years will be to look at the 21st century competencies. there are three broad elements. we think values are at the heart of any education. values such as respect, integrity, resilience, care, and harmony are at the heart of all but we do. in social, emotional competency such as self-awareness, self- management, social awareness, relationship management. beyond that, intellect and skills better needed for the workplace of the future -- that are needed for the workplace of the future. an awareness of the global
environment, an awareness of cross-cultural sensitivities, a civic literacy, and so on, as well as critical and inventive thinking. those are new directions we have to move towards. all that must involve parents and teachers working together. >> in singapore, we have the chance to visit with the principle of the schools specifically created by the government to educate gifted children. >> 200 kids in total. music, dance, theater. every year, we are edition them. they have the addition portfolios in the primary school examination. we are looking for a person with independent thinking. they may not have the experience
in the class, but we want a person who has the resilience to say i enjoyed this -- enjoy this, this is who i am. >> in the arts, when you say who you are, that is critical. >> we're talking about the way of thinking, the habits of self- reflection, to have self- mastery to say this is who i am along the journey. it is not that my teacher asked me to do this or my parents want me to. in the arts, you are gifted and talented with all the quirkiness of being met idiosyncratic person. >> we have these young people 13 to 18. they come and learn and graduate. what is their future? >> the future is that this
person does not in just need to be an artist. it may not be the traditional job of becoming an artist. the school because of the rigor of the arts and academics will create professionals in the fields of arts or other professions we would be in. there is an architect who had a dance background because she enjoyed that spatial use of flow. she decided to become an architect. i look forward to the day an aeronautical engineer is gifted in languages before. she wanted to pursue law but she was a theater student here. that is fine. those of the graduates want to look for to give a different type of education.
>> the term "public housing" has a whole different meaning in singapore. the government is involved in a very positive way. the ceo of the housing development board tells us how it works. >> in singapore, there is a very high homeownership rate. 9% on their own homes. it did not start out that way. in the 1960's, we were really living in slums. there were a lot of squatter colonies. that is why the government formed the housing development board in the 1960's. -- 90% own their own homes. the unique thing about the board is that they pursued a path less-well traveled. we aimed for home ownership rather than rental housing. we have many ways to help singaporeans own their own
homes. we actually take care of them almost cradle to grave. when the couple first is married, we look into their housing needs. to make housing affordable, we subsidize a lot of costs of housing. at the same time, we build different types of housing to give them a lot of choices depending on the affordability. one of the key success factors in making housing affordable is the use of the central provident fund. it is like a pension fund. it is called the cps. everybody contributes 16% of our income to the cps. our employer contributes 20%. that makes a 36% savings rate. that is very high. singaporeans can make use of that money to help buy a home.
today, 80% of singaporeans who buy public housing to not have any cash outlay. a portion of the fund can be used to pay for housing. this mechanism has really helped singaporeans to on their own homes. >> it is a small country, small space. we have about 5 million people or so. what percentage of people are living in high-rise buildings? >> the majority, more than 80%. >> are people paying the mortgage back to the government? >> yes. the interesting thing is that we look at the life cycle of the person. after the by the flat, we continue to maintain the value of the flat.
we often go back and continue to rejuvenate the estate. every couple of years, we rejuvenate the outside of the estate, the gardens, the park, the lift. we also rejuvenate the inside for the homeowner. we upgrade every floor. we have an aging population. the owner pays a very small percentage of the upgrading costs, maybe 5% to 15%. the rest is paid by the government. the flat retains its assets and value. as they grow older and have children, sometimes they sell it for a better price and upgrade to a larger flat. wen they finally retire, help them to monetize it. when they retire, they would
sell a larger one and maybe downsize to a smaller one. the children have grown up and moved on to their own homes. they keep the profit. with the profit, they purchase an annuity that gives them a payout for life. you hold them to monetize the flat. in singapore, about 80% is public housing. 20% is private housing. private housing looks almost the same as the public housing. most are how rises. -- most are high-rises. >> singapore has always had a water problem. to handle the shortage, about half of the water needed is important from malaysia. rainfall is also collected in 17 reservoirs. a desalinization process utilizes water from the sea.
the ceo of the public utility board tells us about another way singapore has met this serious challenge. it is a recycling process called "new water." >> water is an infinite source. if you can recycle every drop 100% efficiently, you have an infinite supply. you have a closed loop. we are able to achieve about 50%. the idea of new water is to find the technology to be able to recycle in a cost-effective way. new water came about because of the breakthrough in technology, particularly in membrane technology. we set up pilot plants. over three or four years, we
experimented. we collected data. by 2002, we knew that we were ready to scale up on a large scale. >> people listening to the conversation are wondering if you are talking about toilet water or water from the sink where you have washed the dishes. all of this is under the heading of reclaimed water? >> the technical part is to make sure that we ask the experts that we're confidence in it is safe. the second part is persuading the public it is safe. varity of the suspects. the first part -is that we setup a pilot plant, we did all the testing. we brought in an expert panel that included experts from
america and europe. they looked at what we did. they help us to say that is fine. we went on to produce three new water plants. today there are five of them altogether producing 30% of singapore's water needs. >> now other countries are coming to you for the knowledge you have developed. >> the up shoot us investing in the water solutions is that we have created a bit of an industry here. >> it is true in every country, the future lies in the hands of the young people. we often forget that. we spoke with a group of young singaporeans about the country's recent elections and how the government is responding. we discussed their hopes for their generation and the future of their country.
is singapore a good place to live, work, and play? >> increasingly, it is getting more vibrant. young people are having more fun. they are speaking out more. they are expressing themselves more freely. i think that is always a good sign when you have that kind of buzz from the kind of vibrant age group. it shifts everything. " people are finding they are having their own voices. there is increasing empowerment to speak out about what you believe in. the last few generations have gone overseas and come back. we have new ideas and inspiration. it is increasingly vibrant. we have seen how it was 20 years ago and how it has shifted. it is really exciting. >> one thing that is viable but
singaporeans society is its diversity. the diversity came from the people who came to singapore and about grounds they came from. singapore has developed differently now. there is still diversity. a variety of views are accepted now. in the past, education was focused on academics. in recent years, the focus allows young people to develop in different areas. >> are the young people involved in what is happening? >> what was interesting about the watershed elections was because of the buzz. we came alive and woke up. it was not only our response,
but the government response. they decided to see us differently. they saw us as vocal people who have a voice. young people tended to be quite apathetic about politics. i think they begin to see as as being more engaged. that is what makes me love this place even more. i will love it tomorrow more than i do today. >> singaporeans are multi- taskers. you have your own career but you dabble in other things outside of work. these are strong and passionate pursuit. it could be music or social enterprises. there are a lot of other things that singaporeans are now doing whether it is here in singapore or internationally. >> if you were prime minister for the day? what would you have us know and
do? >> if i were to be the prime minister for the day, i will let people dream about what they want to do. i want to find out what each and every individual wants to be. i want to look at what people feel about being a singaporean. what do they dream about for singapore? >> the last word? or the next word. >> it is happening more and more and more in this exciting little place. the potential is enormous. i think there will be exciting people and voices that are going
programs, visit our website, thisisamerica.net. "this is america" is made possible by -- the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. forging a higher global standard. the ctc foundation, afo communications, and the rotondaro family trust.