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
Now that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has delivered this year’s Budget, and with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) working to explain the different components of his speech, the brouhaha last month surrounding the MOF’s engagement of young “online micro-influencers” to publicise the Budget appears to be more symptomatic of a deeper malaise: That the government struggles to meaningfully communicate its policies. The communication is a familiar it-is-what-it-is approach, characterised by missed opportunities to explain how policy decisions – when compared against alternatives – were made and to help Singaporeans better understand policymaking, and in the process dispel myths. Continue reading