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How can I continue to remain in Singapore to complete my O-Levels?

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XP Mai
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How can I continue to remain in Singapore to complete my O-Levels?

Post by XP Mai » Mon, 17 Jun 2019 12:10 pm

Hi there!

Can I ask for advice: I'm taking O-Level as a Private Candidate this year. I was originally a school student for more than 10 years and held a valid Student Pass as a Vietnamese national and fully assimilated into Singapore's education system until this year I've decided to withdraw from school due to some negative causes but decide to pursue GCE 'O' Level as a Private Candidate nonetheless.

It had been tough for me this whole year and I have finally been able to got through all immigration hurdles by delays, multiple extensions and flying back and forth for genuine reason: to attend Science Practical lessons as mandated by MOE for Private Candidates in order for me to sit for the examination. It worked until now (June). My last entrance into Singapore (last month), the airport has warned me that this is the final attempt. Therefore, I now applied for Short-Term Visit Pass (STVP) recently and I got rejected for it.

This is very alarming for me because the immigration has always implied to me that I could always travel back and forth since I'm ineligible for Student Pass (I don't take full-time course) and STVP (it's not a viable mechanism in the early of the year since O-Level was quite far away)

When the airport in my last arrival set a red herring for me and today I got rejected for STVP, I am very scared since in the next 2 months (August) O-Level will officially begin for me. I am very afraid I will not get pass the airport any more regardless of my reasons. (they don't seem to bother to listen to my benign inquiries at ICA nowadays, but airport yes. I had not visited ICA for long because I used to have valid permit (Student Pass), but in the past, ICA was more humane and case-by-case.)

I don't know, but it seems as a national from certain countries, we're treated as subpar and it is a very real possibility for me to be mercilessly denied entry from August-Nov (exam periods).

The airport advised me that in order to guarantee my entry to Singapore for O-Level reasons, I need to produce them a letter from ICA to support what I claimed (basically what I wrote above. Including O-level and ICA officers really casually gave advice to re-enter Singapore during O-Level periods), but I failed to even convince any ICA official to listen to my circumstance and understand the implications beyond flat out rejecting me. It is not like I am just wasting their time staying in Singapore with no real purpose or intention, or I am any typical ambitious new immigrants.

I know writing in this forum will not change anything, but I am writing here in the hope of receiving some undisclosed advice/procedures to overcome ICA bureaucratic processes, for a real case-by-case assessment of me based on merit. A computerised assessment of my historical stays, pass extensions is just Math numbers that have no context. It seems like ICA doesn't even take account into the fact that I've lived here so long that potentially denying me O-Level will not leave me other doors because I really do not know about other education systems other than Singapore. I studied all these 10 years and this is the final year to take national exam, and after O-Level I'll restore my Student Pass by joining mainstream school.

I've studied a lot all this while. I'm not those typical genius FT, I'm just an ordinary one going by merit to elevate myself. Denying me of O-Level like this really devastate me a lot since I had been living in Singapore all this while just for today and had not owed Singapore society a single cent since I'm not a Singaporean anyway.

It is not easy for me to overcome A-Math as an ordinary human.

https://1drv.ms/u/s!At2d63nj8IeD-iSncreJpQIqY2Ea

And I studied a lot. I used to peak at 40hrs/week of studying, but at one point, I managed to break my own record I studied up to 50hrs/week

Please advise me. Is there any channels for a case-by-case basis help and not just rigidly follow the stipulated norm? I'm aware Singapore statutes give a lot of leeway for discretionary decisions, but they seem to be exclusive privilege for Westerners and not a channel for real case-by-case help.

TL;DR: What I have done:
  • speak to ICA over-the-counter in person prior to STVP online extension
  • called telephone hotline after STVP rejected online
all but futile. They did not budge.

O-Level is of paramount importance for me because it is the only way for me to re-join mainstream schooling in Singapore whether JC or Poly to restore my Student Pass after being treated unkindly by some persons in secondary school which forced me to leave the school and put in this predicament.

talk007
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Re: How can I continue to remain in Singapore to complete my O-Levels?

Post by talk007 » Tue, 02 Jul 2019 9:19 am

Sorry if I missed some details. If you are eligible for 30 days on arrival visa like asean countries, you can try to come over during your exam day or earlier and print out your exam registration, explain to the immigration officer on your entry. If you need to apply visa in your home country first, get that exam registration printout as well to back your case, as well other attendance for other programs.

All the best. Keep trying, the doors are open for a person like you who determine to be successful.

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PNGMK
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Re: How can I continue to remain in Singapore to complete my O-Levels?

Post by PNGMK » Tue, 02 Jul 2019 10:23 am

I suggest you work on a contingency plan and see if you can sit the exams as a private candidate in other countries such as Malaysia, India or perhaps HK.
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

XP Mai
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Re: How can I continue to remain in Singapore to complete my O-Levels?

Post by XP Mai » Tue, 02 Jul 2019 12:20 pm

PNGMK wrote:
Tue, 02 Jul 2019 10:23 am
I suggest you work on a contingency plan and see if you can sit the exams as a private candidate in other countries such as Malaysia, India or perhaps HK.
I'm fully aware of that…… that would ruin my academics progress and effectively make me a "retained kid" despite my studies, and it is financially unviable for me to afford the expenses of O-Level because it is beyond what you think (cost of exam) but also costly science lab tutorials in order to be eligible to sit for the science examinations. 😥

Neither can I assimilate back into my home country education properly because I spent 10+ years for this, based on estimations it will set me back at least 2 years to re-learn everything with a different language of instruction. 😓

But yes, it is very probable I'm going to lose everything the way things are going. I'll lose everything not because of myself (poor academics) but external factors (immigration, bureaucracy) that isn't within my control nor my fault.

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Re: How can I continue to remain in Singapore to complete my O-Levels?

Post by PNGMK » Wed, 03 Jul 2019 11:57 am

I'm going to put this text below not for you but others reading this.

Based on extremely high level contacts I have I can assure all readers that Singapore is NOT trying to become a centre of education for primary or secondary students. They do not see this as a core business they want to invest in or have others invest in but rather as something they have to allow for expats who want to educate their children. You should not see Singapore as an education destination for your children unless you yourself are living in Singapore.

I realize there are schools catering to this market (Japanese, Korean kids and children of other nationalities living here with guardians set up) but this is a sunset business. Education here for primary and secondary children has been revamped about 7 years ago and this is the result of that. The change appears to have been made for political reasons and as such is not likely to change without a change of govt (and any govt change will be to an even less foreigner tolerant govt).

There are other countries with excellent schools who are chasing this market and who have visas set up for this - Malaysia and Thailand and Australia for example. Send your kids there.

Note - for tertiary education (esp post grad up) this does not seem to be the case yet but who wants a degree from Singapore anyways?
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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sundaymorningstaple
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Re: How can I continue to remain in Singapore to complete my O-Levels?

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 03 Jul 2019 12:19 pm

XP Mai wrote:
Mon, 17 Jun 2019 12:10 pm
O-Level is of paramount importance for me because it is the only way for me to re-join mainstream schooling in Singapore whether JC or Poly to restore my Student Pass after being treated unkindly by some persons in secondary school which forced me to leave the school and put in this predicament.
XP Mai wrote:
Tue, 02 Jul 2019 12:20 pm
I'll lose everything not because of myself (poor academics) but external factors (immigration, bureaucracy) that isn't within my control nor my fault.
I have been following this but haven't gotten involved up to now. XP Mai, please, for me and anybody else who happened to catch the anomaly between your first post and the last post (both quoted above & bolded in blue text).

The first statement isn't clear. Who, exactly, forced you to leave the school? If nobody forced you but you felt you had to leave the school, then the second statement highlighted is not correct and it is possibly/probably why ICA will not budge.

XP Mai
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Re: How can I continue to remain in Singapore to complete my O-Levels?

Post by XP Mai » Wed, 03 Jul 2019 12:28 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:
Wed, 03 Jul 2019 12:19 pm
XP Mai wrote:
Mon, 17 Jun 2019 12:10 pm
O-Level is of paramount importance for me because it is the only way for me to re-join mainstream schooling in Singapore whether JC or Poly to restore my Student Pass after being treated unkindly by some persons in secondary school which forced me to leave the school and put in this predicament.
XP Mai wrote:
Tue, 02 Jul 2019 12:20 pm
I'll lose everything not because of myself (poor academics) but external factors (immigration, bureaucracy) that isn't within my control nor my fault.
I have been following this but haven't gotten involved up to now. XP Mai, please, for me and anybody else who happened to catch the anomaly between your first post and the last post (both quoted above & bolded in blue text).

The first statement isn't clear. Who, exactly, forced you to leave the school? If nobody forced you but you felt you had to leave the school, then the second statement highlighted is not correct and it is possibly/probably why ICA will not budge.
I see. 😞 Yes, a few people have also pointed me out this thing exactly like what you said.

I was told that no matter what, it would be a better choice for me to remain in school. Haiss, but it's really hard and difficult for me to convince you the alteration of events that occurred and very probable most people in my shoe would've done the same. My leave from that school was legally endorsed by psychologist, not just any any how drop out.

It's difficult for me to explain that, but I think at this point, it's pointless for me to grasp the past unless it directly matters the presence, which is unlikely because MOE and ICA insists they are independent.

XP Mai
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Re: How can I continue to remain in Singapore to complete my O-Levels?

Post by XP Mai » Wed, 03 Jul 2019 12:41 pm

PNGMK wrote:
Wed, 03 Jul 2019 11:57 am
I'm going to put this text below not for you but others reading this.

Based on extremely high level contacts I have I can assure all readers that Singapore is NOT trying to become a centre of education for primary or secondary students. They do not see this as a core business they want to invest in or have others invest in but rather as something they have to allow for expats who want to educate their children. You should not see Singapore as an education destination for your children unless you yourself are living in Singapore.

I realize there are schools catering to this market (Japanese, Korean kids and children of other nationalities living here with guardians set up) but this is a sunset business. Education here for primary and secondary children has been revamped about 7 years ago and this is the result of that. The change appears to have been made for political reasons and as such is not likely to change without a change of govt (and any govt change will be to an even less foreigner tolerant govt).

There are other countries with excellent schools who are chasing this market and who have visas set up for this - Malaysia and Thailand and Australia for example. Send your kids there.

Note - for tertiary education (esp post grad up) this does not seem to be the case yet but who wants a degree from Singapore anyways?
Ahh, thank you! You've just reminded me I still have Malaysia as an option. I somehow never thought of Malaysia even though I know it's a country beside Singapore 😁

O-Level is not a very distant syllabus in Malaysian education system compared to other Southeast Asian countries so I guess I'll explore options in Malaysia and see if it works out.

Because in other countries like Vietnam, even though PPP is much lower, but O-Level is such a distant syllabus compared to the norm there, pursing IGCSE there therefore is an extreme luxury

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