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‘Singapore success story result of focus on human capital development’

By Andrea López-Tomàs - Feb 14,2018 - Last updated at Feb 14,2018

AMMAN — Human capital is a key pillar for developing countries and advancing their economies, Phillip Yeo, chairman of SPRING (Standards, Productivity and Innovation for Growth) Singapore, said on Monday.

His remarks came during an event dubbed “Innovation: From Idea to Success, The Story of Singapore” held by the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation at the Royal Cultural Centre. 

“You have to be patient enough and invest in human capital; that’s why, in Singapore, we spend 2.5 per cent of our GBP in research,” Yeo said, highlighting the success story of Singapore, which focused on human capital development through one of the island's most successful programmes that invests in the education of talented young people.

Shedding light on the success Singapore was able to achieve in various sectors, he noted that the government chooses the top 100 students in the country, and provides them with scholarships and resources to obtain their bachelors and/or PhDs overseas, mostly in the US and the UK.

After finishing their studies, these young adults come back to Singapore to contribute to their country by conducting research and improving policies directly targeting the population.

For Yeo, the success of Singapore can be explained by the following: “You have to encourage teachers to nurture and raise the best children; we need to get the best people.”

Due to its population of less than 6 million people and its geographical situation, Singapore is largely influenced by nearby countries, such as China and India. Its location and relatively young existence — the island was officially declared independent in 1965 — have made the emergent state a “trading nation", according to Yeo.

He highlighted the importance of including all kind of students in this programme. “My policy is that if there are two competitors in the same race for a scholarship, the one with a lower income gets it,” he explained, adding that he has been “impressed” by young Jordanians.

“You [Jordanians] have more human capital than Singapore,” he said, adding “Jordan has to find its own plans according to its population and characteristics, and create a committee of young people. Indeed, if they are the ones managing the money, you will get better results as they won't be scared to take risks.” 

The chairman of SPRING Singapore insisted: “You have to push the government budget to build human capital and then be patient enough to build intelligent capital with a bachelor's degree and PhD.”


SPRING is a government development agency focused on enabling start-ups, Yeo explained, noting “we create new spaces where youngsters can come and create their start-ups."

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