Students of different abilities make for a class act

Grouping students of similar academic standards together may not be the best way for them to learn ("How not to dismantle a meritocratic system"; last Friday).

I am a Singaporean who grew up overseas. There, students of different ages were in the same class, for example, Primary 1 and 2 students studied together.

Students took on the role of both teacher and learner; older students benefited from teaching the younger ones, as the most effective way to retain information is to teach it, and younger students were inspired to go beyond what was expected of them.

This was not what I experienced when I moved back to Singapore in Secondary 1 to study in a local school's "gifted" class.

Studying with peers of similar academic strengths did not foster that same open environment of teaching and learning.

I later went on to study for the International Baccalaureate at St Joseph's Institution International, and found that I benefited greatly from working with students of different academic interests - everyone, regardless of their academic strength, has something to bring to the table.

It is unrealistic to group people together based on academic ability - out in the real world, we have to interact and work with people of different academic, social and economic backgrounds.

Barring more demanding subjects like mathematics or foreign languages, streaming might not actually be beneficial to students.

Furthermore, it saddens me to think that "social mobility cannot be preserved at the same rates as before, as Singapore develops", as mentioned in the article above.

It is true that with the rise of the middle class and the efforts of parents to give their children a better education, those from more affluent backgrounds have the upper hand.

But Singapore should not resign itself to lower social mobility.

Those who have benefited from the system of meritocracy should give back to society, whether through donating to schools to enhance their facilities and increase their scholarships, or volunteering in the community

and offering to help the less privileged students.

That way, all can work together to build an all-encompassing Singapore.

Hoong Juan Ru (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'Students of different abilities make for a class act'. Print Edition | Subscribe