During dinner last night, we were sitting next to a primary school teacher and she was talking to her parents/ aunts about her students who come from broken families, poor families and were not of the same educational standard as their peers.
This made me realise how lucky I am and really drove home the shocking point that I make up only a very small percentage of the whole population. I don’t feel that way mainly because I am surrounded by people who belong to this small percentage! Her conversation also reminded me of the time where Sing and I were selling CD cases and letter pads to raise funds for this charity organisation that helped families that needed financial support. A Caucasian tourist had actually commented to Sing (when she had approached him) that Singapore doesn’t need charities because everyone’s wealthy. How wrong he is.
Every wealthy nation has its poor. There are people who fall through the cracks due to several reasons. Some families are broken due to drugs, a parent being jailed or just that the parents aren’t able to secure high paying jobs due to the lack of education.
Sure, it’s easy to say that its the government’s job to level the playing field but let’s be realistic. There’s free education in Singapore. Schools are equipped with computers. There are tuition grants, edusave schemes, scholarships and even independent schools such as my alma mater SGCS have bursuries and grants. Technically speaking, this translate as everyone in Singapore being provided good education. True…but everything happens young. Poor primary school children aren’t at the same level as their peers because their peers have parents who can afford to send them to kindergartens. These children learn their basic abc’s and 123’s at kindergarten. Thus, primary school is no longer the place to learn your basics. But our poor kids don’t learn these basics until they go to primary school.
Ok, let’s say that these poor children do understand the basics even though they’ve never gone to kindergarten. Some are so poor that they can’t afford small misc items such as uniforms, stationery and goodness knows what else a student needs these days. I’m not a teacher and therefore I do not have such tales to tell. But the teacher that I heard last night is the 2nd first-hand experience that I’ve heard.
I’m not saying that the poor is a big problem in Singapore. I’m saying that the poor does exist and they’re being pushed even further into the fringes where nobody really sees. What we see now and believe is that the average Singaporean is middle-class and can afford Coach bags. The report that the no. of millionaire Singaporeans have increased also helps to make this perception more concrete. The report is true. Singaporeans getting richer is also probably true. But let’s not forget that the poor still exist and it is NOT shocking to find that they’re our fellow Singaporeans.