1 in 10 disadvantaged students make it?


Inequality is inherent in our education system because of our policies?

I refer to the article “Disadvantaged students trail top-performing peers here” (Straits Times, Oct 24).

It states that “But when it comes to “national resilience”, which looks at how these students fared against the top science performers in their own countries, only one in 10 of Singapore’s disadvantaged students met the mark. This is lower than the proportion in 24 other education systems like Hong Kong and Finland.

For instance, only 10 per cent of students from lower-income families in Singapore obtained a score of at least 631 in the 2015 Pisa test for science.

A score of 631 is considered the 75th percentile mark for science for Singapore students.”

This is yet another indication of why we are ranked 149th in the Inequality Index, despite all the protestations by the Government that it is flawed.

In this connection, I would like to highlight some of the policies that may be contributing to inequality as follows:

  1. … the proportion of tertiary scholarships that are awarded to richer students relative to poorer students in Singapore, is very high, relative to their distribution in the population
  2. … the proportion of post-graduate level scholarships and admissions given to non-Singaporeans into the public universities is very high – estimated at about 70%
  3. … the typical Singaporean university student graduates with a debt of over $30,000 as most may have take the ‘tuition fee’ loans (fees have been increasingalmost every year)
  4. … students in ‘gifted schools or programmes’ and higher ranked schools are disproportionately represented by students from richer families
  5. … lower-income parent may not be able to make full use of the matching contributions under Child Development Account
  6. … procreation taxation policies are discriminatory against lower-income families
  7. Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.