Give every child the right environment to learn in

What the article pointed out about the relationship of a child's academic performance and aspirations with his socio-economic background is most disturbing (When poor children in school don't dream big; June 9).

Investment in education is critical to Singapore's progress.Thus, we need to eliminate all encumbrances that families face as far as education of children is concerned.

Simply put, the ability of a child to have a nurturing environment in which to pursue knowledge, starting from kindergarten, without being burdened or held back due to family circumstances must be ensured.

It is also necessary to look at the points Associate Professor Teo You Yenn made in her article (Let's talk about meeting needs, not just equality of opportunity; May 30) as well as in her book This is What Inequality Looks Like.

Seemingly worthy steps, such as providing subsidies, are unlikely to be effective approaches.

We should challenge ourselves to start from a blank page and be ready to test conventional thinking.

For instance, should education be free from kindergarten to the undergraduate level for all Singaporeans in local schools? Would such investment have a higher payback than some of our tangible infrastructure?

Thought leaders, educators and cross sections of Singapore's population should step up to devote their energies to this critical and complex ingredient of the country's foundation.

Gerard Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2018, with the headline 'Give every child the right environment to learn in'. Print Edition | Subscribe