Do more to stop giving priority to alumni

Inequality and meritocracy have traditionally been linked as the problem and solution to each other.

Admittedly the challenge of inequality increases with each generation as parents with greater means will be able to provide their offspring with enrichment classes from a younger age.

There is no easy solution to this as an entire enrichment industry will often work to ensure that there is an added and differentiated value to paying for more classes.

However, one of the perpetuating vestiges of meritocracy lies in our education system, where branded schools give preferential admission treatment to offspring of alumni.

This artificially increases the gap between different tiers of societies and gives a greater disadvantage to capable students wanting to bridge this wealth gap.

The argument is that giving preferential treatment would allow for more engagement with alumni, which presumably has implications on donations to sustain the school.

Does this not further increase the gaps between branded and non-branded schools?

Viewed by the facts alone, this goes against the principles of meritocracy.

While progress has been made to reserve 10 per cent of spaces for non-alumni, why can't this go up to 100 per cent?

After all, donations to alma maters should come from the perspective of giving back to the education gained and not from an expectation of future benefits.

Daryl Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'Do more to stop giving priority to alumni'. Print Edition | Subscribe