Has meritocracy changed here?

Has meritocracy changed here?
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong urged Washington and Beijing to work together in Asia-Pacific matters.

Mr Delane Lim's view ("RI students not 'elitist' "; Tuesday) is misconceived. The real issue is whether we are moving away from an inclusive meritocracy.

Meritocracy rejects stratification on the basis of social status, and embraces the differences in people's abilities and the natural hierarchy that flows from it.

A meritocratic system would, therefore, allow people to rise or fall based on their accom-plishments or failures, regardless of their social status.

It should see students from a diverse range of social and economic backgrounds having a roughly equal chance to enter top schools.

This is evidently not the case in our top schools, whose student population is skewed towards those who hail from families of "better" socio-economic status.

But that is unsurprising, and was recognised by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who alluded to the fact that well-off families could give their children a head start, compared with the social mobility of the less well off ("Meritocracy works but beware of elitism: ESM Goh"; July 28, 2013).

To create a more inclusive meritocracy, the Government has tried to level the playing field by implementing policies such as the Edusave awards.

However, Nominated MP Eugene Tan has observed that Raffles Institution is now less representative of Singapore than it used to be ("Hot topics at the debate"; May 31 this year), which could indicate that efforts to level the playing field are not achieving their desired effect.

It would be more constructive to engage in a discussion of whether we are moving further away from the "fair" meritocracy we espouse, and what we can and should do to reverse such a trend.

Adrian Tan Xi Jing

This article was first published on June 7, 2014.
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