The public service is casting its net wider to schools that do not traditionally produce government scholarship winners, in a bid to increase the diversity in its ranks and guard against elitism.
In an open letter on the Public Service Commission (PSC) website on Tuesday, its chairman Eddie Teo underscored the value of having diversity in the public service as governance and policymaking become more complex, and demographics and the education system undergo changes.
"We need a diverse public service to avoid 'groupthink' and to appreciate the needs of a diverse Singapore population," he said in a letter penned to mark the start of his second term as chairman of the agency overseeing civil service recruitment.
PSC scholarships are seen as a pipeline for future top senior civil servants. But the perception that they are given mainly to students from top junior colleges is a perennial problem.
Lately, the need to address it has become more urgent amid growing concerns over social mobility and elitism.
In his letter, Mr Teo sought to reassure people that this was not the case.
The PSC, he said, will guard against elitism by taking in students from different socio-economic backgrounds and sending them to a wider range of universities and courses.
The proportion of scholarship holders from traditional sources has shrunk, he added, using their schools as a proxy for socio-economic class.
In the last two years, 60 per cent of them were from Raffles Institution and Hwa Chong, a drop from a peak of 82 per cent in 2007. In the last 10 years, these two schools produced 68 per cent of scholarship holders on average.
Joining their ranks in recent years are students from such junior colleges as Pioneer, St Andrew's and Nanyang.