I share the sentiments expressed by both Raffles Institution principal Chan Poh Meng and Straits Times journalist Amelia Teng on being mindful of elitism (“A hard look at averting elitism”; Wednesday 5 August 2015).
Whether we want to admit it or not, elitism in schools automatically makes a class separation. Elitism will not only create enclaves in society and widen segregation, but pockets of a class society will emerge. This is not healthy when the Government is keen to promote an inclusive society.
Many students who are well to do get driven to schools by their parents, and have maids to tend to their needs. These students do not experience the difficulties in travelling in our jammed- back trains and buses. They do not see how many in our society who are clearly disadvantaged having to struggle with disabilities, discrimination, poor health and isolation.
These bright students in top schools will one day enter the workforce; hold managerial positions with some entering the political arena. Therefore if they are not in touch with the ground, they will not be in position to understand the struggles which the less fortunate in our midst have to go through in their daily lives.
One way to get the students to understand the plight of needy Singaporeans is for the top schools to enroll their students as volunteers, answering the call by the MSF Minister to give their time and effort to this useful cause. Once the students see first-hand how the marginalised in our society have to grapple with a whole range of issues practically every day in their lives, the students will be in a better position to show love, understanding and support for our needy citizens. This will ultimately pave the way for a far better society where everyone looks out for another – irrespective of their status in society.
Raymond Anthony Fernando