Spread top students among more schools

While it is praiseworthy that the Ministry of Education (MOE) has made it more affordable for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to study in independent schools to tackle inequality, a better move would have been to spread our top students across more schools (Independent schools to be made more affordable for less well-off; Dec 28, 2018).

Before the 1980s, there were bright students in more schools. While top schools like Raffles Institution had the lion's share of bright students, it was also common for students from other schools to finish among the top in Singapore.

The inequality gap was not as evident as most schools had their share of students from the various strata of society.

The issue of inequality today should not just be about the inequality in wealth but should also be about the inequality in talent.

The Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme, which was introduced to make it possible for students who excel in non-academic areas to study at top schools, is in fact depriving the non-elite schools of talented students.

Take the annual National School Games, for example.

The winners of the competitions are usually from the few top schools.

Sometimes, even the Singapore Sports School loses out to the top schools in attracting sporting talent.

How can every school be a good school when non-elite schools "train the best but keep the rest"? Alas, the latest move by the MOE will likely exaggerate this divide.

Instead, we should be spreading top students among more schools in order to teach such students to empathise with the less wealthy and be more compassionate.

The DSA scheme should also be discontinued so that non-elite schools have a fair chance at procuring sporting or art talents.

Gerard Lee How Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2019, with the headline 'Spread top students among more schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe