Rethinking the term “elitism”


Excerpts from The Kent Ridge Common:

SINGAPORE – When Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek interviewed our then education minister Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the latter made a tacit admission that the Singapore system has not been effective in producing world-beaters.

One puzzling fact was that Singapore churns out only few truly top-ranked scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, business executives or academics despite being number 1 in the global math and science rankings for school children. It doesn’t come as a surprise that our students perform well in standardized tests since we have always been known to produce exam-smart students. It wouldn’t be that difficult for the latter to score top marks in their math and science exams.

Thus, Mr Shanmugaratnam had to concede that the Singapore system is an exam meritocracy, whilst the American one is a talent meritocracy, which saw the latter producing world-beaters in abundance. During the PAP Policy Forum at the beginning of 2006, he suggested a revamp of our education system that will see it move from an exam meritocracy towards a talent meritocracy.

Yet, this so-called exam meritocracy still remains the platform for the segregation of future “elites”, the wheat, from the chaff, us ordinary joes.

Read the rest of the article in The Kent Ridge Common.


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