Could Priority Primary 1 Admission Worsen Educational Inequality in Singapore?

7 December, 2017

Photo Credit: from The Straits Times

Associate Professor Irene YH Ng from the Department of Social Work and Director of Social Service Research Centre at FASS discusses the longer term implications of plans to give priority primary school admission to pupils attending kindergartens operated by the Ministry of Education. She warns that this is likely to lead to a group being created that is assigned a prestige label because of the ‘insiders’ benefit of priority admission. Because of this, there is then a danger that the creation of the new preferential group will further segregate pupils by socio-economic status, and extend the ‘arms race’ for educational success to the pre-primary level.  Such priority admission can thus create more intense competition among children at a young age (and their parents) and inadvertently worsen pre-existing educational inequality.

Assoc Prof Ng thus highlights the importance of assessing the unintended effects of policy decisions. While she recognizes that the intended effects of policy may be well-meaning, harmful unintended effects have a possibility of outweighing the intended, as she suggests is the case for this particular policy.

Read her opinion piece here: