Inequalities In Education

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Advancement in Singapore’s education system has always been dependent on performance and merit to ensure equal opportunity for all. (Ministry of Education). As PM Lee stated, ‘It does not matter what your background is. We make sure we identify you, we give you the opportunities and also the resources and the support so that if you succeed, you can do well for Singapore’ (Toh 2013). However, in my opinion, this ideology of equalised opportunities in education contributes to the worsening of social inequality. The late Mr. Lee Kwan Yew once said that the human being is an unequal creature and will never be equal (Lin, 2010). Thus, in a world of inequalities, would treating everyone equally result in equality? In fact, Emeritus Senior Minister…show more content…
The ‘rewards’ for academic performance are based on the family’s financial resources instead of an individual’s hard work. The meritocratic education system results in a system in which the people who are the luckiest in terms of family support, encouragement and income reap the largest rewards (Goh, 2013). Coupled with the recent 7.9% price hike in tuition fees of the 5 public Universities in Singapore (Xue, 2014), low-income students would be less inclined to pursue higher education due to financial burdens and implications (Rising cost of Education in Singapore, 2014). For instance, only one of every 8 undergraduates in public Universities comes from households who live in 1- to 3-room flats (Chan, 2008). Furthermore, according to Ministry of Manpower (MOM) statistics, local university graduates have higher starting salaries than polytechnics or ITEs graduates (MOM, 2015). The gap in wages would further widen over the span of their careers and result in the division of social classes and income. Incidentally, Michael Young who had coined the word ‘meritocracy’ did not intend it as a positive term of phrase. His book argued that if everyone advances on merit in a society, it will eventually create an unpleasant aristocracy of talent (Young,…show more content…
He highlighted that income inequality as grown over the years as families who had done well are able to give a head start to their children (Goh, 2013). In support of this, the Public Service Commission (PSC) disclosed that 47% scholarship recipients lived in Housing Board flats and 53% were in private housing. The disparity becomes obvious when those numbers are viewed against the fact that 85% of Singaporeans live in HDB estates (Scholarships and the cut of relative merit, 2008). Armed with a financial advantage and oblivious to the disadvantages others are born with; social inequalities would no doubt worsen in the face of unequal starting points in the meritocratic education system. Nevertheless, a meritocratic education system is essential for a country that depends solely on its population. Hard work is rewarded equally and it can be argued that through financial assistance schemes, such as the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme, Edusave Merit Bursaries and Opportunity Fund, it ensures that students are not denied opportunities to progress due to their financial circumstances (Cheong, 2011). Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also offers a wide range of scholarships, ranging from short-term to scholarships administered by external organizations (NTU,

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