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Singapore’s Social Divide Problem Extends Beyond The School

While class- or school-based integration is not guaranteed by “putting students of different learning abilities and socio-economic statuses in the same classroom” (TODAY, Mar. 4), Singapore has to confront an inequality and social divide problem which extends beyond the school. In fact, it could be argued that primary and secondary schools – by bringing together students of varied demographic and socio-economic backgrounds, to some extent – already offer one of the country’s most important sites for social interactions. The policy focus, in this vein, should shift from streaming within secondary schools to distinctions across schools, to greater engagement between students of different schools and institutes of higher learning, as well as to increased porosity across these educational pathways. Continue reading

Education, Employers, And Singapore’s Workaholic Culture

An understanding of Singapore’s workaholic culture – given that “Singapore residents in 2015 worked the second longest week in developed cities around the world” (TODAY, Dec. 22) – is not complete without examining the influence of a competitive education system and the role of older employers in perpetuating the need for long work hours, reflected in instances when calls for a better work-life balance is ridiculed as younger workers being demanding or mollycoddled. And because has been established that the long work hours in Singapore compare poorly to the hours of workers from other countries and that blue-collar Singaporean workers still work the longest hours, attempts to improve the status quo ought to focus on the root of these problems. Continue reading

Tweaks To DSA Will Not Fix Fundamental Disparities

The latest round of tweaks to the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme – making applications free of charge and centralising the online submission of applications (TODAY, Nov. 7) – will not fix more fundamental disparities between students and the families they come from. Furthermore these changes, and how they have been communicated thus far, are not helped by the lack of more precise data and information on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the students who benefit from the DSA: The employment status of their parents, their housing type and household income, and perhaps even their primary schools (and how they were admitted). Continue reading

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