Meritocratic system enables students of all backgrounds to mix

Mr Calvin Cheng has analysed the current meritocratic system of education remarkably well and offered very constructive suggestions ("How not to dismantle a meritocratic system"; last Friday).

The streaming of students based on examination results depends more on their innate abilities and attitude towards studies than their financial background.

Bright and hard-working students from modest family backgrounds have an equal chance to be grouped together with intelligent students from very wealthy backgrounds to stretch their potential.

Among top students, tuition plays only a small part in assisting an insignificant number to improve their results.

Less bright students with a poor attitude towards studies will never be able to gain a place in a popular school going at a faster pace, no matter how rich their families are or how good their tutors who charge exorbitant fees may be.

Unlike in big countries, the top few per cent of academically inclined students in Singapore are very small in absolute numbers, and we need to nurture them to compete with the world.

We are fortunate to have a meritocratic system of education where students are streamed based on their abilities, not the wealth of their families.

In some countries, rich students attend private schools charging high fees, while the majority attend public schools with a different curriculum.

The bright students from the working class will never have a chance to study together with the rich ones.

We must appreciate the education system in Singapore. Mr Cheng has done us a great favour in analysing the situation correctly so that suitable actions can be taken.

Yeo Boon Eng (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'Meritocratic system enables students of all backgrounds to mix'. Print Edition | Subscribe