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Singapore's education system tends to perpetuate class stratification: NCMP

Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong said there is a need to strengthen education's role as key facilitator of social mobility in Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong warned on Tuesday (May 27) of dangers that can hamper Singaporeans' ability to achieve social mobility through education. He said the education system in Singapore has a tendency to perpetuate class stratification in society.

Speaking at the parliamentary debate on the President's address, he said many have acknowledged that entry into "branded schools" in Singapore is a reflection of parents' social class, rather than merit.

Mr Yee said given the current Primary One admission rules, those in higher social classes will continue to have preferences to enter popular schools.

He also said the reproduction of class can be seen in the profile of Public Service Commission scholarship holders. Mr Yee cited 2008 figures which showed that 47 per cent of scholarship recipients that year lived in Housing Board flats as opposed to 53 per cent who lived in private housing. He said the profile over-represented people who lived in private housing.

Mr Yee said the definition of meritocracy in Singapore is premised on good examination results, which do not reflect structural disadvantages faced by working-class families. He said there is a need to strengthen education's role as key facilitator of social mobility in the country. 

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