A GOOD MIX
It is common knowledge that Singapore government schools comprise a healthy balance of different races. This is a good strategy in integrating different ethnicities from young, which fosters social cohesion and racial harmony. However, there should also be a good mixture of students from different socio-economic backgrounds.
Say no to elitism
In 2013 Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong spoke at his alma mater and stressed the need to guard against elitism as it is something that can divide Singapore. Mr Goh said top schools must play a key role in ensuring that their students do not develop an elitist mindset and a sense of entitlement. Mr Goh said back then his school was a melting pot of various socio-economic students of different races. He said his generation’s experience was that of an open meritocracy that meant “equity and upward social mobility for most people.”
Mr Goh Chok Tong also said, “When society’s brightest and most able think that they made good because they are inherently superior and entitled to their success; when they do not credit their good fortune also to birth and circumstance; when economic inequality gives rise to social immobility and a growing social distance between the winners of meritocracy and the masses; and when the winners seek to cement their membership of a social class that is distinct from, exclusive, and not representative of Singapore society — that is elitism.”
A healthy classroom
What defines a good classroom? A healthy classroom is one with students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Socio-economic profiling of students will ensure that there are various students of different income families in the classroom. This mixture of students will allow them to understand each other more and when the kids make friends from young they will have a better understanding of the man on the street in Singapore. After all, not every family has two maids who do everything for the kids.
As majority of students are admitted into primary schools based on proximities to their homes, some primary schools such a Nanyang Primary, Raffles Girls Primary and Henry Park primary will have a significant number of students coming from wealthy families living in the Holland/Bukit Timah area where these schools are located. Such integration will develop their empathy for others. It says to our kids: Regardless of family backgrounds and social status, everyone is equal, everyone has equal opportunities in school.