• The Convergence

Inequality and social stratification in Singapore

Commentary | Ayisha Sithika, Opinion Associate Editor



The days of rapid economic growth have left Singapore because our economy has changed from a to a skill-based economy that gives vast returns to those with skills and capital.


In layman terms, only the rich and the educated are earning more. Hence, the widening of income inequality gap in Singapore.


One of the consequences of such is social stratification. Social stratification is the hierarchical or vertical division of society according to rank, caste or class.


A study by the Institute of Policy Studies shows that there is a clear class divide based on your income in Singapore. This corresponds with the cases of elitism that we see in our daily lives.


With more students in elite schools coming from higher income families, they are more likely to interact with those of the same income class.


As such, these students are prevented from socialising with people from different backgrounds.


The lack of interaction creates a social bubble where students only interact with those similar to themselves. This lack of communication may lead to insensitivity and lack of understanding.


A prime example was when a JC student was quoted saying that brighter students needed better facilities than ITE students.


Another RJC student commented that a person from a neighbourhood school is trying to climb up the social ladder by dating someone in RJC. These examples show how some students from elite schools view students from neighbourhood schools.


Education Minister Ong Ye Kung announced that streaming in secondary schools would be phased out by 2024.


By removing this system, MOE hopes to allow students to interact and identify themselves in more diverse ways other than academic abilities.


This is a policy implemented to change the elitist mindset like those of the JC student mentioned above.


As mindsets are hard to break, MOE has taken concrete and multiple steps into improving the system that they believe is perpetuating this elitism in Singapore.


Even though the issue of social stratification is immense and complex, the removal of the streaming system would help to remove the elitist and limiting mindsets we gain during schooling.



About the author: Ayisha Sithika is a first-year Political science major from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She is on staff with The Convergence as Associate Editor (Events). She adores to read and watch Korean dramas. She currently hopes to gain a better understanding of exercise and develop a love for it.

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