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Commemorative Feature Story: Human Capital Is the Future

Commemorative Feature Story: Human Capital Is the Future

Posted April. 01, 2005 00:25,   


Raffles Junior College, Singapore -

"114 students got admitted to Ivy League universities (eight prestigious private universities in the eastern U.S.), including Harvard and MIT. With adding up the admitted students to other prestigious schools like Stanford and Carnegie Mellon, the number increases to 381."

Above is the performance of last year`s graduates at Raffles Junior College, a university prep school (equivalent to Korea`s high school) in Singapore. In other words, half of the entire graduating class (742) advanced to prestigious American universities. Excluding schools in the U.S., Raffles performed the best in sending its graduates to the U.S. in the whole world. The school became the talk of the town even in the U.S. after the Wall Street Journal reported it recently. We visited Raffles as the first Korean reporter to visit the school, wondering what was secret of the school`s success.

U yu-ing (17), a student I met there, said that advancing to Stanford was his dream. Although he is the top graduate from a middle school for the specially talented, he sleeps less than five hours these days. His goal is to score higher than 1,550 on the SAT coming up next month. There are five specialists for university admission at Raffles. They divide the students by countries like the U.S., Britain, and Canada and give guides to the students.

Raffles is special, however, for another reason. Despite being the best school in Singapore, it only receives 28 Singapore dollars (about 17,000 won) per student per month. It is the result of the government`s wholehearted support as its policy is to "provide the best education to students with talent." There is more: if students who advance to prestigious universities abroad ask, the government supports them with millions of won every year in full scholarships.

In turn, they have to return to Singapore after finishing their studies and work for the government or its affiliate companies for at least six years. Principal Winston Hodge remarked, "Although the school is only 23 years old, a lot of its alumni have advanced to key posts in the government or economic circles.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-

In India, 12 million people graduate from high school each year. Among them, some 200,000 bright students apply for the IIT, but only 3,800 are successful. Yet this is not the end. Post-admission competition is much more intense. To illustrate, the school provides a separate psychiatrical treatment program because there are so many over-stressed patients from the fierce competition.

Aphirup Medhika, whom I met at the Bombay campus where the most brilliant students gather among the IIT`s seven campuses, is a junior majoring in computer engineering. Having completed undergraduate-level mathematics, physics, and chemistry before entering university, and currently focusing on graduate courses in artificial intelligence experiments, he said, "It is our school`s iron rule that you are weeded out if you don`t go forward."

His friends also proudly say that "survival of the fittest is the motto at IIT.” IIT`s fame is global. IIT Bombay`s dean of international relations, professor Pradipta Banerji, stated, "IIT graduates are India`s future. The reason hundreds of global companies rush into India and establish R&D centers is because many competent human resources are being produced."

Both Singapore and India judge that human capital is the core of national competitiveness and are pinning their futures to cultivating talent. In addition, talent selection and management strictly follow the competition principle.