John Ralston Saul once said, "everyone has an equal right to inequality". There is bound to be inequality in all societies I believe there is inequality in Singapore too. Singapore is an economic powerhouse on the world stage. We have progressed from a third world country to a first world country. In order to maintain this, it is vital for Singapore to continue developing. Due to our government having many schemes and guidelines put in place to prevent inequality, many may perceive that equality is a reality in Singapore. However is that really the truth? Firstly, family background plays a crucial role in affecting a child's performance in school and this difference is difficult to equalize. Secondly, the lack of skills in a workplace affects job opportunities causing a widening income disparity suggesting inequality. Thirdly, women are discriminated to board or leadership positions due to difference in standards for men and women. Equality is the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities. These qualities are not entirely observed in our society hence I believe that the idea of equality does not exist. Thus I disagree to a large extent that equality is a reality in Singapore.
Firstly, family background plays a crucial role in affecting a child's performance in school and this difference is difficult to equalize. With the fact that it is impossible to equalize differences in family background, educational equality cannot be achieved when students from higher income groups have more advantage over lower income groups. There can never be equality because the different family background is already an inequality to begin with. Our education system gives opportunities for those who excel. It is deemed to be meritocratic as the progress is based on ability and talent rather than class privilege or wealth. Despite the fact that the education system aims to provide equal opportunity for all, the starting factor of family background still plays an important role in how well a student does in school. Hence, the students from lower income family will always be on the losing end. Imagine there are two students, one coming from a lower income family while another from a higher earning income family. The child from a better family background will get more money to have more resources. Statistics have shown that parents of very young children among the top 25% of earners are more than twice as likely to have at least ten books in the home than those from the bottom quartile. This indeed shows that higher-earning parents are more likely to provide their children with more resources that can enrich their learning. Students with parents from higher income groups are given a starting advantage when their family background enables their parents to spend more on getting a leg-up in education. Their parents are more capable to send them for tuition. Hence with so much aid, they are more likely to be able to catch up and understand the syllabus in school thus achieving better grades and getting into better schools. As higher performers in school they are more likely to be given more opportunities to go for “talent classes”, national competitions , as well as research programmes that can help to stretch them further beyond curriculum. On the other hand, the student from a lower income family will not get enough financial aid to be sent for tuition. Their parents are more likely to be working to put food on the table hence they are not able to provide guidance to their children in terms of school work. Therefore with less guidance the child will not be able to grasp the content well in school and will more likely lag behind their peers. In fact, if many students receive tuition and majority of the class is able to learn faster, the teacher will have a tendency to go faster when teaching. Thus the students from lower income families who are already struggling with the current topics will lag behind and be at a greater disadvantage in terms of learning in school. When they do not do so well academically they end up not being able to attend a good school or a university. Additionally, the students from lower income family are less likely to do well in school because they have a lack of motivation to want to do well. The fact that they have always been trying to catch up with their peers, makes it demoralizing for them. Eventually, they will feel that there is no point trying because they will start to believe that they will never be as good as the other students from a better family background. The difference in family background has caused unequal opportunities for students hence I disagree that equality is a reality in Singapore.
Secondly, the lack of skills in a workplace affects job opportunities causing a widening income disparity suggesting inequality. As mentioned, Singapore is developing at a fast pace. Hence the demand for skilled workers is very high. The government has placed emphasis on upgrading our current skills to stay relevant in the changing world. Those who have the financial support can pay to attend courses that can help upgrade their current skills. Hence they are more likely to get hired as they have the required skills for that job. Having more skills and knowledge is also an advantage for them to secure a high paying job. However, those who are from lower income families will not be able to afford to pay for courses to upgrade themselves. When they lack behind in terms of skills they are less likely to get hired. Additionally, they are also less likely to end up with a high paying job. This creates the income disparity in Singapore as the poor gets poorer and the rich gets richer. This vicious cycle will continue to widen the income disparity gap in Singapore. Based on standards by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, Singapore has the 2nd worst income inequality at 0.458 in 2016. This "achievement" is just right below Chile's 0.465, but worse than the United States – a country deeply divided by income inequality. This shows that income disparity is a serious issue in Singapore. This also shows how inequality is prevalent in our society where the poor will find it harder to get rich.
Thirdly, women are discriminated to board or leadership positions. This problem of gender inequality has been ongoing for a long time. Despite measures taken to ensure gender equality, egregious gender inequality still exists globally. Within the field of politics in Singapore, there are only two females in a cabinet of 21 people. Additionally, female representation in leadership positions in businesses is also an issue. In 25% of the businesses, there are no women in the senior management positions. This shows that women are not given enough leadership positions in the workplace or in politics. This may be due to our Asian values where women are perceived to be housewives and be primary caregivers, not one who is working at a workplace, neither one who leads the country. This perception has caused uneven expectations of women hence they have to do more in order to prove they are worthy of a position in the cabinet. Many companies are also cited to be not ready to elevate women and hire them for top executive positions. This has hindered many women to have a leadership position. Thus this emphasizes the fact that gender inequality does indeed exists in our society.
However, some may argue that there is equality in our society. With regards to the problem of discrimination against older workers, making them unable to keep their jobs or find new jobs, Singapore has a Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices. They have guidelines that can help promote the employability of older workers and raise awareness of the value that older workers bring to the workplace. This is considered an educational approach.
Nonetheless, despite having these guidelines we are still very much an ageist society. At times where older workers reported their age to the employers, the employers may lie to them saying that the vacant spot has been taken as they do not wish to hire older workers. This can be observed through examples. One of which is where an F&B company looking for a trainee manager actually indicated in its ad that it wanted applicants aged 19 to 30. This very much shows the age discrimination in Singapore. With this discrimination, elderly workers do not have equal opportunities to find jobs as compared to others of other age groups. This very much highlights the inequality in our society.
In conclusion, inequality exists in our society and I disagree that equality is a reality in my society. This is because the difference in family background have caused students to not get equal opportunities as other students. There is still a widening income disparity and women are still discriminated to board or leadership positions. Imagine a world where everyone gets equal opportunities, equal rights and status. In future, will we be able to make equality a reality in our society? That is a question we all have to answer. Maybe one day we will achieve this through efforts of every single Singaporean.