Singapore—After Education Minister Ong Ye Kung announced on Tuesday that streaming in schools would be abandoned by 2024, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) claimed credit for having proposed this already in its policy proposal, Educating for Creativity and Equality: An Agenda for Transformation.
SDP’s leader, Dr Chee Soon Juan had written about the dangers of streaming in his 1994 book, Dare To Change: An Alternative Vision for Singapore. “A major problem of streaming is something called labelling. This perverse effect of self-fulfilling prophecy is even more evident in children… It is not difficult for children [in lower streams] to feel less valued as well as for others to feel similarly towards them.”
In their statement, SDP also claimed that the PAP first criticises its policy proposals but later adopts them. They cited many examples of this occurring, on matters such as taxes, minimum wages, the hiring of Singaporeans first, and other issues.
On Wednesday, March 6, Dr Chee took things a step further. He posted a meme, with a quote from his book.
“A major problem of streaming is the effect of self-fulfilling prophecy … It is not difficult for children [in lower streams] to feel less valued.” Dare to Change, 1994
Apparently, Lee Hsien Loong, then Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, had taken aim at Dr Chee after the book was published.
“Dare to Change is a rehash of some old Western Liberal ideas which have failed, and Chee Soon Juan packages them together, calls it a book.” —Lee Hsien Loong, 1994
Dr Chee then added to his post a quote from Education Minister Ong Ye Kung from two days ago, wherein he, whether knowingly or otherwise, echoes Dr Chee’s sentiment from 25 years ago.
“Entering a stream that is considered ‘lower’ can carry a certain stigma or be self-limiting…. It becomes self-fulfilling.” —Ong Ye Kung, 2019
In somewhat of a mic drop, Dr Chee posted this meme without comment.
Netizens, though, had plenty to say about the matter, including comments about how SDP’s policies have been copied through the years.
One commenter suggested that these topics be brought up during the campaign period for the elections.
Others expressed concern over the effect streaming has had on generations of students, as well as on society as a whole.
Many heaped praise on and encouraged Dr Chee, calling him a ‘visionary’ for having foreseen this even 25 years ago.