Perspectives of the Unseen: Educational Meritocracy and Student Mobility


The Ministry of Education, Singapore, has released a statement emphasizing that 'Every school is a good school'. The education system in Singapore subscribes to the principle of meritocracy. The system holds a student accountable for his or her own success or failure through the choices he or she makes, and his or her competency, motivation and effort. It disregards the student's social circumstances, environment and other factors which may affect his or her performance and behaviors in school, which in turn affects the student's mobility. The education system gives the impression that it cannot be blamed for the outcomes of students as it has provided 'equal' opportunities for all children. However, there is a practice of grouping and segregation of students in place. Students are streamed into different schools and tracks based on their parents' connection and location for primary school admission, and subsequently their individual academic performance. The purpose of this presentation is to explore issues emerging from a meritocratic educational system that seems to be exclusive, promote elitism, and impede equity. This presentation is part of an ongoing qualitative phenomenological study focusing on the perceptions of graduates who were streamed into lower ability groups through high stakes assessment. This study has also resulted in the birth of a non-profit organization, Literacy Initiative For Equity (LIFE) which aims to support underprivileged children by equipping them with tools and a fair opportunity at achieving success. LIFE has also contributed to the data collected for the study.

Author Information
Hana Saemon, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Paper Information
Conference: IICEDubai2016
Stream: Education: social justice and social change

This paper is part of the IICEDubai2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon