When pointed out by Opposition MP Sylvia Lim that there has been rising inequality among students in Singapore, Senior Minister of State for Education Janil Puthucheary dismissed the OECD report as inaccurate. In the Parliament debate today (Jan 10), WP MP Sylvia Lim questioned the Education ministry if they are concerned that the economically-disadvantaged students in Singapore are falling behind their richer peers:
“There was a table in the OECD report that compared the performance of socio-economically disadvantaged students … and it was stated that the OECD average of disadvantaged students likely to underperform is 2.8 times, but Singapore is 4.37 times. Is that not an indication that we have a bigger issue to worry about in terms of equity?”
To this, Minister Janil Puthucheary claimed that the OECD report is wrong:
“Ms Lim’s interpretation is factually inaccurate… If one chooses that as the measure of equity, which the OECD has chosen to do, then the mathematical result is as Ms Lim has demonstrated. However, it does not mean that our lower socio-economic status students are underperforming their OECD counterparts. That is not the case.”
The Singapore government has repeatedly denied inequality being a problem in Singapore despite having one of the worst GINI coefficients in the world. The dictatorship also refuse to acknowledge the presence of the poor, and often repeated that government policies have been comprehensive in assisting the poor.
Minister Janil Puthucheary is an ex-Malaysian new citizen who has never served National Service.