Both meritocracy and level playing field needed

Meritocracy has to continue in Singapore, but we also have to level the playing field to fully utilise the pool of talent as much as possible ("How not to dismantle a meritocratic system"; Aug 28).

I was from a primary school in a neighbourhood that was lower on the socio-economic ladder.

A significant number of pupils were less well-off than the average Singaporean pupil, and many even had issues with buying their own lunch.

The teachers also seemed to be less motivated, and one or two did not even offer remedial lessons in preparation for the Primary School Leaving Examination.

Consequently, only two out of the entire cohort made it to a top school, with a significant number not scoring well enough to make it to the Express stream.

Incredibly, many did well enough later in life to go to top junior colleges and local universities.

Poorer students cannot even afford basic school necessities, let alone expensive tuition to allow them to compete effectively.

It is true that these students will not be denied a place even in the most prestigious courses in local universities, if they do succeed.

However, it is likely that they will be squeezed out by the limited university places and intense competition from more well-to-do students.

Thus, this has led to a craze among parents to volunteer at prestigious schools to make sure that they will not end up enrolling their children at neighbourhood schools.

Let us not end up in a situation where the achievement gap between rich and poor districts is so significantly different.

We can level the playing field such that even the less elite schools receive more to help their students compete effectively and allow Singapore to better utilise its pool of talent.

Cheong Beng Cheong