The Straits Times
Published on Dec 31, 2012

High entry scores to top schools should not be lowered


I DISAGREE with deputy political editor Lydia Lim that entry scores to top schools should be relaxed ("Striking the right balance in meritocracy"; Dec 15).

Ms Lim posits that a more diversified environment could ensue and the rewards more fairly distributed. The ultimate outcome of this would then be a "balanced and sustainable meritocracy".

While this may add diversity to schools, it undermines the true essence of meritocracy.

I am a product of meritocracy, living in an HDB flat and with parents in the middle-class group. It is meritocracy that keeps my hopes and ambitions alive; it is this system that eggs me on to work hard to achieve success. I believe the high entry scores of top institutions give a clear signal that every student has to work hard to attain a place there.

Relaxing entry scores may backfire, sending the wrong message to society that it is now easier to make their way to top institutions, and that students do not have to strive as hard for excellence. This undermines the meaning of meritocracy.

In the course of attaining success, the possession of financial resources is secondary - the determination and perseverance of students matter more.

Meritocracy drives one to strive for success, and success is achieved by individual effort. Meritocracy is also the way for people to break out of the vicious circle of being at the lower end of society.

Relaxing entry scores to top institutions is not feasible and is not part of meritocracy. We have to bear in mind that the path to success is always filled with obstacles. The high entry scores of top institutions would teach students resilience and competitiveness.

Sum Wei Yang (Ms)