Grace Fu raises new concern about old problem

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By Augustine Low

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu has said that the government is concerned about the lack of diversity in schools, with those from elite schools and neighbourhood schools not mixing.

But guess what, the diversity deficit has been there for as long as one can remember, so the government’s sudden concern is a mystery.

It smacks of a top down problem. So let’s start by looking at the top, at who sits in the Singapore cabinet, where the elitism starts.

From Catholic High School we have the likes of PM Lee Hsien Loong, Lim Swee Say and Gan Kim Yong. From Anglo-Chinese School we have luminaries like Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Ng Eng Hen, Vivian Balakrishnan, Khaw Boon Wan (ACS Penang) and Tan Chuan-Jin (ex-Minister, now Speaker of Parliament). And Raffles Institution has produced the likes of Goh Chok Tong, K Shanmugam, Chan Chun Sing and Lim Hng Kiang.

It’s the story of elitism running deep throughout the political arena and the upper reaches of Singapore society. Not just the men but the women too – Grace Fu herself hails from Number One ranked Nanyang Girls’ High School. Not a surprise at all.

The government says every school is a good school but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Wouldn’t it be more convincing if the political leaders and top-tier administrative officers tell us what schools they send their children to?

I spoke with Alvin, an alumnus of Catholic High School and National Junior College, for his take. A parent of two teenage children today, he puts it this way: “Let’s be realistic, parents who send their kids to elite schools want that clear line of distinction . . . at elite schools, you make friends with high achievers. The networking, the social interaction with an elite group of friends opens doors even after graduation . . . the networking and the prestige factor help to secure prestigious internships and the chances of getting scholarships also go up.”

In other words, there is no motivation for those from elite schools to mix with those from outside of their elite circle.

It’s crystal clear that elitism in schools and the lack of diversity cannot be effectively addressed simply through expressions of concern. Grace Fu can start by looking at who sits in the cabinet and how the elitism is filtered top down.

44 COMMENTS

  1. Elitism didn’t just happen in singapore. It was carefully crafted, husbanded and protected. The belief that nature trumps nurture is strong on this island, it itself being one of LKY’s most closely held.
    In turn these elites determine the hoops to jump through to ascend into their lofty perches. The class chasm is unavoidable but the G shouldn’t insult the people’s intelligence and pretend that they haven’t determined this from the get go.

  2. Isn’t she part of the problem? Isnt the main reason for the class divide due to the notion of the natural aristocracy and how it is supposed to entitle and separate different groups within our society?

  3. When the public has to wait for the arrival of MPs or GOHs, who without fail is always the LAST to arrive, and stand up clap hands for this late comer, that’s is class difference of the highest order.

    • The scholarship class ensures that PAP has a monopoly over the top talent in our society and the neverending churning out of generations of scholar/soldier/ruler. The danger of such a system is groupthink and cronyism amongst those who aren’t in the scholar class but want favours from that class.

    • You hit the bulls eye. This issue is getting big. Few gang up and build barriers. It breeds crony culture. Like in the Army, they have created this culture of hypocrisy. If Commander say something, rest echos. The one who disagree with be picked and nailed. Every one suck up to scholars. You are with them or you are deem an enemy.

  4. In the first place, who created this problem. It PAP themselves, look at how the Mps and ministers behaves, even those in the oppositions. They want to play God and no one’s can question them or else you get used until.your pants drop as quoted by LTK of worker party.

    If those ministers are GOD, they should be humble, loving kindness, generous and helpful. DO they behaves like this?? No. They behaves more than GOD and untouchable.

    One thing these arrogant human still dose know thst when they does. They get the same size 6′ x 6′ holes or a niche hole of same size.

  5. Anudder big wayang! Such hypocrisy tak boleh tahan. You want diversity, creativity, entrepreneurship, to come from sheeps locked and controlled in a tightly controlled sheep pen? Not in a million years! Truly asinine!.

    This country is finished in the next 10 years!

  6. We have to find a solution so may I suggest out of school activities at local community centres like scouts, girl guides, and at national level sporting activities where ECA points are awarded. No child should be turned down at these centres. Hopefully students will be able to mix and breakdown the class divide???

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