Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Technology: Singapore plans to have flying taxi by 2030 - video

The Ministry of Transport is talking to some companies to test-trial flying drones capable of carrying passengers. These futuristic vehicles are part of a drive to expand the range of urban mobility options, and Singapore plans to have them ready by 2030.


Forum: Support breastfeeding mothers rather than shame them

It is wrong to compare mothers who expose their breasts while breastfeeding to flashers (Baring the breast for whatever reason is wrong, by Ms Priscilla Poh Beng Hoon; March 24).

Unfortunately, there is a tendency to over-sexualise women's bodies. It is so embedded in our culture that we do not realise why covering up may be uncomfortable.

Women have the right to breastfeed anywhere and however they want.

It is a natural need and no mother should have to cover up just because some people object to it. Concerned parties can simply look away if it bothers them.

Some mums are extremely private people, while some have no issues doing what is necessary. Breastfeeding is uncomfortable, and in Singapore's hot climate, covering up makes things worse for the mother and the baby.

There is also the argument that a woman's breasts are private parts, and to have them exposed in public is indecent.

However, men walk around bare-chested as well, and nobody bats an eyelid.

Our society has a long way to go when it comes to respecting mothers. Let us support them instead of reinforcing a culture of shame and secrecy.

Francis Cheng

Ref: http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/support-breastfeeding-mothers-rather-than-shame-them

Forum: Lessons from the French education system

The expansion of the Direct School Admission scheme to all secondary schools in Singapore has had me thinking about my own experiences as a French citizen in my country's educational programme (Education focus shifts to students' strengths; March 8).

The French system is more focused on longer-term academic performance.

While there are major year-end exams, they do not form the sole selection criteria for entering secondary schools or junior colleges.

Instead, schools look at the student's grades over the previous two or three years to assess their suitability.

One of the main benefits of the French system is that it allows one to distinguish between students who are "exam smart" and those who are academically bright.

Another benefit is that it facilitates the grouping of students of roughly the same academic level and who learn at a similar pace. This allows for more bonding among students.

It is important that we protect both types of student: The bright students who are not necessarily exam smart, and the exam-smart students who may not be as academically capable as their results suggest.

Both, ultimately, are worse off under a system that over-emphasises final exams - the bright ones may miss the opportunity to go to a prestigious school, while those who succeed through cramming may struggle to keep up with the quicker pace of learning and denser curriculum in that school.

For any education system to be fair, schools should ensure that the students they select have the appropriate aptitude to succeed.

Olivier Darrieux

Ref: http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/lessons-from-the-french-education-system

Voices: Able-bodied must learn to be more empathetic

From Terence Lim
Published: 4:00 AM, March 27, 2017

The examples given by the writer of “Give priority, not exclusive privilege, to people with disabilities” (March 23) are specious.

First, his question on what makes people with disabilities unable to wait for the toilet shows an ignorance of the challenges they face daily.

Has he, someone who can get ready to relieve himself in mere seconds, experienced or at least thought about the time and number of steps a person in a wheelchair requires to do so?

Second, the designated areas in buses and trains cannot be kept unoccupied, as there is no barrier to prevent encroachment or even maintain availability to designees.

Unlike regular commuters, who can force their way onto crowded buses or trains by squeezing, wheelchair users cannot board if passengers refuse to give way.

Disabled-access toilets, however, are not open spaces; they are toilets for people with disabilities or special needs. More accurately, they are large but single cubicles, which should not be considered underused simply because there is no queue, and optimally used only when there is one.

Despite the possibility of a legitimate user occupying such a toilet when a wheelchair user arrives, the point is to keep this probability low rather than increase it.

Not everything must be maximised, especially without due consideration for the trade-offs or any negative impact. We able-bodied people must be more empathetic towards people with disabilities; we should not add to their difficulties by being presumptuous or selfish in attempting to partake of their necessary privileges.

Ref: http://www.todayonline.com/voices/able-bodied-must-learn-be-more-empathetic