Local primary school teaches students that hawkers cannot be well-to-do

The tutor, Facebook user Rainbow Lim, shared on social media that the school made this assumption in a class assessment examination

Rainbow Lim FB

A tutor has revealed that a local primary school teaches students that hawkers cannot be well-to-do solely because of their profession and that this assumption frustrated her  because her father is a hawker.

The tutor, Facebook user Rainbow Lim, shared on social media on Sunday (10 Mar) that the school made this assumption in a Class Assessment (CA) examination that was recently administered to Primary 6 students. Lim did not mention the name of the school.

Lim shared that one off her students approached her with frustration over a particular question. The question follows a story, in which an author wanted to surprise his mother for her birthday but could not afford to buy an entire cake.

The paper asks students whether the statement that “The author came from a well-to-do family” is true or false and to explain why it is true or false. The student answered that the statement is false because the author could only afford to buy a slice of cake for his mother’s birthday.

The student, however, lost marks for that answer. The school, instead, teaches that the author does not come from a well-to-do family because “The author’s mother worked at a kopitiam.”

Lim recounted: “the girl told me, “My dad works at a hawker center and we’re not poor… so I didn’t think that would be the answer.” She was frustrated that people would assume that about hawkers, and she found it very unfair.”

Lim said she first thought that the mother in the story could be a cleaner at a kopitiam or maybe her business was not doing well but when she scanned the story for any clues pointing to financial difficulty, she found none. She said:

“At first I thought the mother worked as a cleaner at a kopitiam, but it turns out she sold popiah. so I scanned the essay for any hints that, maybe, business wasn’t good or that they weren’t earning enough from simply selling popiah at a kopitiam, but the whole paragraph depicting the mother at her stall was about the huge number of customers that kept coming and coming and how she was so busy that her son needed to step in and help.”

It is unclear why the school would assume that the author’s family cannot be well-to-do, especially when it explicitly mentions that the mother has a large number of customers. Lim asked:

“Why would you teach students that just because someone works at a kopitiam it means that they’re not well-to-do? I don’t understand and neither does my p6 girl.”

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