Will access to technology help Singaporean students reduce inequality?
Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced during a national broadcast on today, June 17 that
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has plans to fast-forward the plan to equip all secondary school students with their own personal laptop or tablet by next year 2021.
This means all students (regardless of family income) can finally have their own private digital devices where they can access HBL online learning materials, attend online tuition lessons, do research on their tablets, download educational apps and of course, socialise all on their very own devices.
In recent years, Senior Minister Tharman has often advocated that social mobility has been and is at the heart of Singapore’s ambition and how it is absolutely imperative for the government to do their best to address this concern.
Like most globalised nations, social divisions are part of an unfortunate reality in meritocratic Singapore. On one end of the spectrum, we have some students in Singapore who are trapped in the poverty cycle, struggling with basic needs, living without access to wifi or their own laptop devices. On the moneyed end, we have students in Raffles Institution who flush S$50 and call it ‘our toilet paper’.
Not too long ago, in 2018, Singapore ranked 149 in an Oxfam index where 157 countries are ranked based on their efforts to tackle the gap between the rich and poor. Singapore is just eight ranks ahead of countries like Nigeria (157) and Bhutan (152).
In his speech, Senior Minister Tharman recognises that due to the Covid-19 crisis, the income inequality has definitely widened. Job and income losses have hit some groups much harder than others. Children without well-off parents are falling behind, with their schooling disrupted and little done to help them.
Singaporeans spend twice the global average on children’s local education and buying assessment books are one of the expenses that they incurred.
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