MERITOCRACY in Singapore is about more than just academic grades, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as he stressed that everyone here has a shot at success.
“When we say ‘merit’, we are not just talking about grades or scores, but also character, leadership and a broad range of talents,” said Lee said in a speech to more than 1,500 students and their parents at a bursary and Edusave award ceremony in his Teck Ghee ward.
He said: “We make sure that whatever your family background, whatever your circumstances, you may be poor, you may be from a single-parent family, you may be having some learning disabilities, but if you work hard, you can succeed.
“It does not matter what your background is. We make sure we identify you, we give you the opportunities and also the resources and the support so that if you succeed, you can do well for Singapore.”
Yesterday was the second time in just over a month that PM Lee stressed that meritocracy cannot be narrowly defined as being just about grades. He also spoke on the topic at a PAP conference on Dec 2 last year.
In that speech, the Prime Minister said he was worried when Singaporeans reject meritocracy and asked what could replace merit as the basis for decisions on jobs or school places.
The principle has come under considerable scrutiny in recent months, especially in the field of education.
While the Prime Minister repeated the same call on broadening the definition of meritocracy, yesterday he focused on what roles parents and students can play in it.
He urged parents to set an example: “Guide your children, set good examples and instil good moral values in them.”
Turning to students, Lee urged them not to neglect their studies even though there would be more focus on character, leadership and service.
“Results and grades are not the only measure of success or the only things that matter in life,” Lee said, adding: “It is important that you learn and study to give you a good foundation for what you can do in life.”
He pledged that the Government will continue to help all students achieve their potential. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network