Good Schools II

The name of your high school matters. It matters even when you are in your 60s and speaking in parliament. It may seem silly that one can be defined that way but this is classic Singaporean. It’s because we celebrate a very narrow set of talents. That was critical at the nation-founding, nation-building phase where we needed to identify strong problem-solvers, and risk-takers who could be industry pioneers.

But it is also because of that, our ‘elite schools’ can serve as important socio-economic levellers by accepting students from a variety of backgrounds and wider variety of talents – not just academic ones. Demolishing the alumni priority system entirely helps; though what we are doing is a nice first step. Of course it’s nice to have our kid go to the same school as ourselves and share in that school pride. But it is non-essential and you should be giving back to the schools because of what it has given you, not what it is about to give your sons and daughters.

Education is an important opportunity for social mobility. Let us not destroy it. Let us not allow capital and private resources to further entrench its power over labour.