Understanding Meritocracy in Singapore’s Educational System

Singapore city with Merlion and Marina Bay Sands in the background


Singapore’s education has been a recent topic for discussion. Many countries experience a certain gap between their wealthy population and their poor population. In countries where the gap is the largest, the most educational struggle is present. The main reasons for this is due to low tax rates for the rich, low spending budgets for the struggling population and poor healthcare. Meritocracy is defined as a unique political system where economic goods or the use of political power are invested based on performance instead of wealth. This system of education is often debated to be a problem or solution. Understanding the system in more detail will help each individual to make that determination.


Some of the practices that show a direct example of meritocracy are ones such as standardized testing. Standardized testing in Singapore is given to all students of all different levels of economic development. The fees associated with education are generally affordable for the mass population and grants are given to lower-income families depending upon the circumstances. These types of advancements in education give an opportunity to those who may not otherwise have one. This is significant especially for a region with high economic value. Singapore’s economy holds a place globally as well, making it one of the more developed countries in the world. Other main factors that contribute to this educational system include bills that have been passed and other legislations that have been voted on as a result of the system. Competition between academic students has increased.


The academic competition is a test to see which student will be able to perform at a higher level than the next. This can be beneficial as it encourages hard work and dedication, however this system has its downsides. Some of the main downsides include stress on the student and an overwhelming environment at times. There are minor adjustments that can be made to the meritocracy system to alter the negative experiences students may face. The system can still be used for it beneficial properties such as equality and effective education.


Individual circumstances such as conflict and lack of resources are often overlooked in the educational system. Educational systems do not take into account these individual situations that may affect students and therefore contribute to their performance at school. When the system gives the same opportunity to all students, there are many benefits. With each of these benefits, there are potential downsides. There are many ways to offset the negative effects of the system.


One of the most powerful ways to offset the effects of the system is to invest more in the healthcare and public funding for the students that would otherwise be struggling in this one-size-fits-all system. By taking care of the domestic population that needs government assistance, families are able to live a more stress-free life. Students may feel the need to find a part-time job before they finish their studies in order to help their families earn money. This takes away time and focus form their schoolwork and ultimately contributes to the drawbacks of the educational system.



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