Each kid has to get 'equitable shot at opportunities'

Mr Warrier said the study pointed to the need for equal access to all schools.
Mr Warrier said the study pointed to the need for equal access to all schools.

While doing community service by giving tuition as a teenager, Mr Deepak Warrier, 21, realised a gap between him and his students.

"Some of the kids I taught clearly had immense potential but also absent parents and unsupportive home environments," he said.

"On the other hand, I have well- educated parents who taught me to read from a young age," said the former Henry Park Primary School and Raffles Institution student.

"I feel that I've benefited enormously from Singapore's education system, especially from the schools I went to," said Mr Warrier, who was also in the Gifted Education Programme (GEP).

Being in the Humanities Programme in his junior college years and the Raffles Academy, a programme for students with talent in certain subjects, also exposed him to "thinking and reasoning at a high level", he said.

Mr Warrier, whose father is an information technology professional and mother, an assistant manager, lives with his family in a condominium in Buona Vista. He graduated from RI in 2013 and is heading to New York University to read economics next month.

"The GEP was a valuable experience at a formative age because of its outstanding teachers, small class sizes, and commitment to nurturing creativity and critical thinking beyond the bounds of Singapore's exam-intensive education system," he said.

The point of the study that he and Mr Pu Liang, 21 - a schoolmate from RI - did was to highlight the need for equal access to all primary schools.

"Our point is that every child has to get a credible and equitable shot at these opportunities, regardless of how wealthy or well-connected the parents are," said Mr Warrier.

Mr Liang, whose mother worked in the pharmaceutical industry and father is a university professor, said: "My mother taught me in primary school as well as in early secondary school, and she teaches my sister now. I owe much of my academic success to her."

His family lives in a condominium in the West Coast area.

He said the project allowed him to make use of computer science and data analysis concepts he had learnt in university on real-world data. "Overall, I believe that our conclusion verifies a well-known social issue that would benefit from more policy review."

Amelia Teng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2016, with the headline 'Each kid has to get 'equitable shot at opportunities''. Print Edition | Subscribe