Levelling the playing field an uphill task

The Government seems to be sending mixed signals.

On the one hand, it says every school is a good school.

On the other, it laments that Singapore's top schools are becoming closed circles, dominated by students from more affluent backgrounds (Levelling the educational playing field; May 27).

It is important to get the fundamentals right.

The entry score, based on the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), must be strictly adhered to, in order to maintain the standard of performance which characterises the school.

Parents whose children make it to the top schools must take a leap of faith, and not deprive their children of the opportunity based on their misplaced worries.

The Direct School Admission system, which admits students to secondary schools based on achievements in sports or the arts, may seem to diversify the student profile, but can result in more harm than good.

These students may soon discover that, academically, they are unable to compete with students who are admitted through good PSLE scores.

Consequently, they may get stressed, disillusioned, and even lose self-esteem.

Levelling the playing field is, at best, a myth, not only in schools but in many facets of society.

The field is never level, and will never be.

Family backgrounds and connections are so deeply entrenched and protected that they are impossible to reverse or unravel.

As much as we mourn the problem of social stratification, we must realise it is an uphill - if not impossible - task to eradicate it.

What we can, and must, do is to try to narrow the gap, and provide opportunities to the less-privileged, if they have the potential to excel.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2018, with the headline 'Levelling the playing field an uphill task'. Print Edition | Subscribe