The question, therefore, is not whether children from low-income families can make it to RI, become President’s Scholars, or succeed in life (answer: they can), but the proportion of children who actually do. Mapping out the extent to which these children and their families make it and the extent to which a level playing field exists – assuming that it is equity, not equality, we desire – are moreover useful for understanding the structural challenges they face. This also underlines a second opposition to the disproportionate emphasis on anecdotes (even well-meaning and meaningful ones): That structural problems demand structural solutions, not just piecemeal calls for changes in mindsets or stereotypes. Continue reading
Any lingering doubts that socio-economic inequality is – or will be – a problem in Singapore were probably laid to rest in the past week, when President Halimah Yacob, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made inequality and social mobility key themes in their speeches in parliament.
Yet the speeches of Mr. Ong and Mr. Lee (in fact, the IPS study too) were scant on substantive policy solutions. Continue reading
While well-intentioned – and complemented by the important observation that “every school is a good school, but not every home is equal” (TODAY, Feb. 28) – the proposal by Nominated Member of Parliament Chia Yong Yong for schools to adopt a full-day curriculum seems poorly thought-out, and does not take into account either the logistical challenges or the likely effectiveness of the proposed change. Because if the concern is that students from well-to-do families have access to additional resources such as enrichment and tuition classes, and that the entrenchment of such benefits will only widen the socio-economic divide, then policies should work on two levels: First, and in the short-term, provide students from the other families with similar resources; and second, in the longer-term, level the playing field. Continue reading