Roy Ngerng’s ‘education inequality’ analysis: Some comments

I refer to Roy Ngerng’s article “Singapore’s Education Outcomes Are Very Unequal at Higher Levels of Difficulty” (thehearttruths, Oct 13).

It states that “It is true that Singapore “outperforms the rest of the world” in education – in science, reading and mathematics, and ranks top in human capital.

But it is also true that the education outcomes are also very unequal.

In Chart 1, you can see that at the easiest level of difficult (Level 1), both the richest and poorest students in Singapore perform well in reading, mathematics and science.

However, as the difficulty level increases (to Level 4), you can see that the achievement gap widens.

At Level 4 thus, for most countries, the gap between the richest and poorest therefore narrowed because even among the richest students, they would have difficulty performing well at the highest level of difficulty. However, Singapore bucks the trend where the richest students are still performing fairly well.

But this is where the inequality becomes glaringly obvious. In fact, the poorest students perform behind the richest students in the top 20 countries. What this shows is that yes, Singapore’s overall education outcomes is good, but it is also true that the education outcomes are very unequal, where the gap between the richest and poorest is also very high.

Also, what is clearly a concern in these comparisons is that even though Singapore provides a good basic foundation-level education, education outcomes at higher levels of difficulty is vastly unequal.

  1. the government might say that they are “bringing everybody to a good starting point as early as possible in life“, but if other countries have shown that by the upper secondary level, students will catch up anyway, is there a need to put that much stress on students at such an early age? Is there a need to stream them at age 10 (Primary 4), age 12 (Primary 6) and age 14 (Secondary 2) when an examination at age 16 should suffice?
  2. Finally, if students are only brought to a good starting point but they are not helped to perform well all the way (where the gap between the richest and poorest is the highest in Singapore for the highest level of difficulty), then does it help to narrow the gap between the “rich and poor”, and between the “advantaged and disadvantaged”, or is the education system therefore actually perpetuating inequality?”
  3. In this connection, I would like to support Roy Ngerng’s analysis as follows:
  4. … the proportion of tertiary scholarships that are awarded to richer students relative to poorer students in Singapore, is very high, relative to their distribution in the population
  5. … the proportion of post-graduate level scholarships and admissions given to non-Singaporeans into the public universities is very high – estimated at about 70%
  6. … the typical Singaporean university student graduates with a debt of over $30,000 as most may have take the ‘tuition fee’ loans (fees have been increasing almost every year)
  7. … students in ‘gifted schools or programmes’ and higher ranked schools are disproportionately represented by students from richer families
  8. … lower-income parent may not be able to make full use of the matching contributions under Child Development Account
  9. … procreation taxation policies are discriminatory against lower-incomefamilies


Leong Sze Hian


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12 Responses to “Roy Ngerng’s ‘education inequality’ analysis: Some comments”

  • Thank you, Roy.:

    Roy has very meticulously shown the reported data to prove the inequality.

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  • HarderTruths:

    Education is not about passing exams. This only shows a limited ability to memorise facts and figures or a talent to manipulate numbers. This by itself cannot be a measure of aptitude or leedership – which is obviously is.

    I cannot recall the number of scholar NSF during my training in SAFTI who could not do basic tasks because they had to finally think for themselves. Yet it is these clowns who are leeding the island nation voted in by 70% of the population.

    Charts mean nothing if the system has failed. I can show you that a pig can fly using charts. The reality is to see how many pigs are flying in the outside world. It seems $G is the only nation that believes in flying pigs because we believe in charts.

    It is ridiculous to live in a world where reality is defined by charts and figures. The yardsticks $G is using to define progress make no sense in a real world. They are just harbingers of imminent failure of the people as a whole.

    When eventually the 70% lose everything and wonder where the next job is coming from – they can still be happy because it is so easy to show them that they are really really rich – using charts.

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  • 70%:

    They 70% voted for genocidial policies. So why are we complaining on their behalf?

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  • SK Wan:

    Referring to point 4 in the article, the award of scholarship appears to be lob sidedin that the award tends to favour the students who come from rich families especially the children of practically all the Spore Ministers and/or MPs. We do not known how scholarships are awarded. They should be based, if u ask anybody, on scholastic prowess at least and then on other additional attributes that may not be related to studies. For whatever the reasons, these overseas scholarships are given to these rich kids, be it for good examination results, for which they should deserve the award, some means testing should be applied by the sponsors to disqualify them from awarding these smart chaps the financial grant that comes with the award. Afterall their well paid and influential parents can easily support their further studies financially.
    By all means award them the scholarship but in name only and in recognition of their good results obtained in their qualifying examinations but re-disburse the monetary portion of the scholarship to another equally academically well qualified student, who may need the funds for further studies, in another scholarship grant or through our local university. In this way the talent pool of deserving Singaporeans will be further increased. The use of means testing to sort out the deserving students based on financial considerations is modeled on the practice used in our public health service to good measure.

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  • A Nation Of Dumb Parrots:

    It is also true that individual Sillypore citizen pays disproportionately high amount for their education and medical to get ahead of the ranking in human capital while the PAP government spends the least compared with many other countries on health and education.

    So it is very good outcome for PAP having forced the essential payment from citizens through legislation while splurging the tax on their own salaries, investment gambling and over-the-top defense weapons to protect their assets, wealth and political power base.

    We have Cheapo IB trumpeting about this HDI and obfuscated it with the report of Oxfam. Oxfam is essentially criticizing PAP for hoarding money by reducing tax on themselves and ignoring basic public expenditures, further worsening the inequality.

    Sinkies should learn to be more discerning than to be hoodwinked by lies and propaganda of state-fed cronies.

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  • RDB:

    The very fact that they must explain already shows their policy flaw.

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  • Self Proclaimed Aristocrats:

    Greedy ministers wanted the inequality to rule as self entitled natural aristocrats.

    So many of those dafts who slogged to ‘get ahead’ basically pay their way for it, which further exasperates the inequality while PAP cronies, instead of providing equal opportunity to level the playing field, do nothing but sit back to milk the citizens .

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  • LIONS:

    Ya,ya,some of the world’s greatest CROOKS come from Ivy League types.

    Many of our PAPple oso come from such varsities.

    And,they are oso crook$?

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  • Dragonslayer:

    Didn’t ah loong proclaim himself and other pap regime inner circle sycophants as “aristocrats”? That statement if his is self explanatory for the steep class divide and the escalating inequality in sinkapoor.

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  • oxygen:

    TAKE A VISIT TO CHINA and talk to peasant Chinese families in rural townships – they will tell you this on education – THEY CAN’T AFFORD TO BUY THEIR KIDS A LAPTOP nor regular access to internet to learn knowledge every day in the university which kids from wealthier homes enjoy.

    I am sure the same is happening in LEE-jiapore where income inequality is way beyond global average.


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  • pap sph, morally deficient:

    Thank you, Roy.:
    Roy has very meticulously shown the reported data to prove the inequality.

    agree. Thank You, Roy.

    do be careful. pap clown has S$ billions of citizens’ money to abuse via parleeementary approval. with that kind of money, dead fish can be judged as live fish. so, do be careful. stick to the facts. like pap clown said, he is watching. this ffffing moron clown with no clothes on is watching, as he had said, to protect his abuse of power, as his brother Mr Lee Hsien Yang has said, and also as his sister Dr Lee Wei Ling has said. abuse of power.

    Mr Anuar Ibrahim, in his election vitoru speech, warned PH members that political power is not for ownself pay ownself S$m to enrich ownself. rather, it is to serve the nation. such a wise leader Ms Anuar Ibrahim. ffff the lky clown. this lky clown Lj only talks about enriching clan members. WTF.

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  • Roy, Stand As Independent!:

    A SMC is your passage into Parliament.

    Get in first, prove yourself and then fight for a GRC.

    Many of the White MPs are rather weak and are not performing.

    The ground is sweet for Opposition at the coming GE!

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