Award pre-school scholarships based on needs

Pre-school scholarships cannot be distributed equally but they can be distributed equitably.

The awarding of these scholarships need not be based on merit, as suggested by Mr Ng Qi Siang (Pre-school kids too young to compete for scholarships; Aug 3).

They should be awarded based on need and on which recipient stands to benefit the most.

This model is used in the United States. This means admitting disadvantaged children whose parents and existing pre-schools do not have the resources to serve.

For example, children who exhibit challenging behaviour would benefit the most from the lower child-teacher ratios at prestigious pre-schools.

In education, as in other areas of life, being "fair" does not always mean treating everyone in exactly the same way.

It is not about offering everyone exactly the same education.

Instead, it is about giving everyone what each needs to be successful, taking into account each individual's strengths and weaknesses.

Not everyone starts in the same place and not everyone has the same needs. Children need to be supported by varying degrees and in different ways.

Universal pre-school coverage is certainly ideal, and quality pre-schools should be available to all. But even then, more "prestigious" pre-schools would still exist.

This, however, should not be an issue.

The existence of "elite" pre-schools does not mean they are elitist, if these better-resourced schools open their doors to those who have the most to gain from their services.

Chin Hui Wen (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2017, with the headline 'Award pre-school scholarships based on needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe