PSC seeks more diversity in scholarships

Public Service Commission (PSC) chairman Eddie Teo has written a public letter to highlight the value of diversity in the public service and set out how the PSC seeks diversity by selecting scholarship holders from a variety of schools and background
Public Service Commission (PSC) chairman Eddie Teo has written a public letter to highlight the value of diversity in the public service and set out how the PSC seeks diversity by selecting scholarship holders from a variety of schools and backgrounds, and sending them to study different courses in different countries. -- ST FILE PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN

The chairman of the Public Service Commission has written a public letter to highlight the value of diversity in the public service and set out how the PSC seeks diversity by selecting scholarship holders from a variety of schools and backgrounds, and sending them to study different courses in different countries.

In the open letter published on the PSC's website, Mr Eddie Teo said that the PSC will continue to reach out to students from different schools and backgrounds and guard against elitism.

He said that the PSC will continue to guard against elitism by having scholars from different socio-economic backgrounds as "a public service comprising only the privileged and upper classes will add to the impression that meritocracy leads to a lack of social mobility in Singapore".

Using the schools students are from as a proxy for socio-economic class, Mr Teo said some 60 per cent of scholarship holders are from Raffles Institution and Hwa Chong but that students from junior colleges such as Pioneer, St Andrew's and Nanyang are also starting to receive scholarships.

He added that the emerging diversity among public servants has not been at the cost of ability, as the high standards have been retained. "We continue to subscribe to meritocracy and do not practise affirmative action or positive discrimination," he wrote.

He also said: "Our public service leaders recognise the need for diversity and realise that future public servants will be more questioning, and have different and divergent views, just like our population.

"Just as the government is changing the way it governs, public service leaders are learning how to manage a new generation of younger public servants, who want greater participation and more voice."

But Mr Teo also noted that the effort to have greater diversity in the public service would "come to nought" if these divergent views are discouraged, or those with different and non-conventional views are not valued and appreciated.

This is the second open letter Mr Teo has written. His first, on the PSC interview process, was in 2009 when he first became chairman.