Commentary: How can Singapore lessen the impact of SES on educational achievements?

2 months ago 45

SINGAPORE: The richer the parents, the smarter and more successful their children. A controversial statement, perhaps, unfair even. But research has shown that children from humbler homes and communities have lower academic performance than their classmates from higher socio-economic backgrounds.

For instance, on average across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, disadvantaged students are 2.7 times more likely than advantaged students not to attain the minimum level of proficiency in reading.

Advantaged students also report having a greater availability of educational resources, such as computers, a quiet place to study and an abundance of books at home.

As Singapore charts its way forward, what does the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and academic achievement mean for educators? Can schools be the great equaliser?

In July, Education Minister Chan Chun Seng said in response to a parliamentary question that of the Primary 4 students who failed two or more subjects over the past five years, an average of 12.6 per cent lived in public rental flats. Of the Primary 4 students who passed all four subjects, 0.8 per cent lived in public rental flats.

In essence, this indicates that those who live in rental flats tend to fare worse than their peers.

Similarly, Mr Chan also said in a separate parliamentary question in March that there is some correlation between socio-economic background and PSLE results.

Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results are released at Horizon Primary School on Nov 24, 2021. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

IMBALANCE IN RESOURCES

The situation is complicated by the educational approach in Singapore, where par...

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