SINGAPORE - On average, less than half of Public Service Commission (PSC) scholarships were awarded to students from Raffles Institution or Hwa Chong Institution between 2019 and 2021, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.
This is down from the period between 2012 and 2018, when more than 60 per cent of scholarships were given to students from those two schools, said Mr Chan in a written parliamentary reply on Wednesday (Jan 12), as he outlined how the PSC's pool of scholars is becoming more diverse.
Workers' Party MP Leon Perera (Aljunied GRC) had asked about the family and educational background of PSC scholars as well as the measures in place for more diverse recruitment.
Replying on behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Chan said the proportion of PSC scholarships awarded to students in junior colleges and Integrated Programme or specialised schools has gone up from a five-year average of 32 per cent, from 2012 to 2016, to 37 per cent, from 2017 to 2021.
More polytechnic students have also gotten scholarships - from 1 per cent to 5 per cent previously, to 6 per cent to 10 per cent in recent years.
The proportion of recipients from other institutions varies between 2 per cent and 4 per cent from year to year.
Mr Chan, who is also Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, said the proportion of PSC scholarship awardees living in public housing ranged from 39 per cent to 54 per cent over the last 10 years.
"The PSC will continue to monitor the effectiveness of its strategies to identify and develop a corps of public service leaders and officers from different backgrounds with diverse experiences and a common heart to serve Singapore and Singaporeans," he added.
Over the last 10 years, the PSC has deliberately expanded outreach efforts to diversify the scholarship pipeline, he said.
Mr Chan noted that there are now partnerships with self-help community groups as well as with all 28 pre-university institutions - junior colleges, polytechnics and specialised schools - to proactively identify and encourage outstanding Singaporean students to apply for a PSC scholarship.
"Particular attention is paid to engaging students from more humble backgrounds and institutions which traditionally have fewer PSC scholarship recipients," he added.
For students who demonstrate potential later in life, PSC has linked up with local universities to encourage Singaporean undergraduates to consider a career in the public service through a mid-term or master's scholarship, he said.
In an open letter in 2018, then newly appointed PSC chairman Lee Tzu Yang said the PSC would explore new tools to ensure that it awards its scholarship to a more diverse range of students.
He said then that the commission needed Singaporeans from all backgrounds to step forward to serve, at a time when the issues facing the country were becoming more complex.
The PSC's 2020 annual report said it piloted a new game-based assessment in 2020 that identifies behavioural traits in applicants such as risk propensity and learning orientation, giving the selection panel an insight into some of the non-intellectual traits of scholarship applicants.