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Reader Opinion: Don’t Blame Singapore’s Education Policy for Widening Inequality

Reader Opinion: Don’t Blame Singapore’s Education Policy for Widening Inequality

  • Current Affairs
  • Opinion

Top image credit: MOE

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that there is a growing problem of income inequality in Singapore. Our country, despite boasting high GDP figures every year, ranks one of the highest in the Gini Coefficient compared to other countries.

Your article has highlighted several great points such as the lack of the minimum wage in Singapore and that basic respect should not be dependent on one’s income. I strongly believe that the inclusion of a minimum wage in Singapore would narrow the income inequality gap. It is a straightforward approach, but not one without opportunity costs, mainly to the businesses. 

However, upon reading your article several times, I can’t help but disagree with a few points that you’ve made. I mean no disrespect when I write these, I just thought my opinions should be heard, at least to you. 

Firstly, you claim that there is an absence of inclusive policies. Let’s go into the education sector here and look at primary schools. Singapore citizens are provided mandatory, basic, education at very low costs, for some, they pay nothing. In primary schools, there is no segregation based on race, language spoken or faith. Every child is able to make friends with everyone that comes from all walks of life. Students do not see whose parents have a bigger bank account, they see friendships to be made regardless of their background. This is the special thing about primary schools.

Sure, well-to-do parents can provide more resources for their child, but is there really a segregation? Is there a segregation as you suggest if they are grouped based on how well they do as they progress further? Sure, exams and streaming stream them into classes with students of similar calibre. However, it does not take into account a student’s financial background. Hence, it would be extremely unjust for you to say that there is a lack of inclusive policies in Singapore.

Secondly, you brought up the point of how the educational policy of streaming was ‘misguided’. There is not an ounce of doubt that IP schools are rich in resources. However, does having more resources translate into better results? At the end of the day, students take the same exam paper. Whatever happens between the day a student enrols into a school and the day they take the paper is entirely up to the student themselves. A student could have the best resources but with a negative attitude fail to achieve success in terms of good results. Same goes for a student who has limited resources but has a positive attitude is able to achieve good results.

It is extremely unfair to pin the blame on the government’s education policy when inequality widens. They have created a system whereby every student, no matter which path they are on, are able to succeed in their own ways. Sure, IP schools such as ACS(I) and SJI International have students who excel in their IB exams. However, there are students from ITEs and Polytechnics who graduate and have achieved success in their own ways an are actually able to earn a decent amount of income.

I don’t disagree that there is an obvious divide between the different types of students, as shown in the CNA video. I’ve seen it myself but I strongly believe that this cannot be blamed on the government. The government, with as little resources as they have, have created an environment where everyone isn’t segregated by race, language spoken or faith. If we are to look down on people, we are the problem. We cannot continuously find someone to blame when it comes to sensitive issues such as a class divide. We have to acknowledge and accept that there are people who are privileged and people who aren’t. What truly matters is what we do next.

Do we simply turn a blind eye or do we try to help alleviate the issue, bit by bit, even if it is as small a gesture as trying to make friends with people we don’t normally talk to?


This article is a response to CNA’s ‘Regardless of Class’ is Everything That’s Wrong With Singapore’s Inequality Debate.

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Danial Syakir RICE Reader