That the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) are working to increase the diversity of both their scholarship applicants and recipients – for instance, by encouraging “more of those living in one- to three-room Housing Board flats and those from poorer families to apply for the scholarships” (ST, Jul. 21) – is encouraging, though they have to be more specific about what is meant by “diversity” and how it is measured and tracked over time. In addition, perhaps having defined diversity across race, gender, socio-economic status, as well as family or educational backgrounds, these metrics ought to be communicated more consistently. Continue reading
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