A group of government scholars has gathered over food and drinks to debate whether they deserve their exalted positions in Singapore’s educational hierarchy. The event, titled “The Merits of Meritocracy”, was held at Harvard University and deemed “a resounding success” by organizer Brandon Ming.
Ming, in his third year at Harvard, said the discussion was extremely fruitful. “We’re all about working through disagreements to find a good compromise. I’m happy to say that while the discussion got pretty heated at times, we were eventually all able to agree that the slogan ‘every school is a good school’ means that, yes, it is acceptable for children to attend NUS High.”
When asked how the group resolved disputes, Ming said they attempted to reach unanimity, but would vote if unable to do so. To ensure the right conclusion was reached, however, votes were weighted by ability to synthesize and process information. “Ministry and stat-board scholars could speak, but didn’t get any votes,” he explained. “PSC scholars got two votes each, three if they’re with the SAF. And I got five votes – I mean, I am a President’s Scholar.”
Going forward, Ming sees much more work to be done. The group is currently working on digitizing the minutes, recreating the discussion for an Our Singapore Conversation documentary, and publishing a White Paper explaining why Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) is inferior to Raffles and Hwa Chong Institutions. As White Paper writer Jason Seow argued, “We know ‘every school is a good school’, but that only applies to academic institutions. Finishing schools for rich kids don’t count.”
Ming dismissed concerns that the discussion might have suffered from a lack of perspectives from those who hadn’t succeeded in the school system. “If anybody else had a valid perspective to share, they would have worked hard, earned a scholarship, and been in Cambridge with us to explain why meritocracy works so well. If they couldn’t score straight As in History, Literature, Chemistry, Mathematics, and General Paper, how could they have anything valuable to add?”
“Besides,” he muttered, “why else would we have invited the Tufts kids?”
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