Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Class Divide In Singapore - Does Having More Money Makes Us More High Class?

Many of us would have seen a video by Channel news Asia about a few students from different backgrounds voicing out their views on class divide issues in Singapore. This video went viral and was debated widely even by Ministers.

The class divide - Education tracks & Money

Besides the different education tracks which cause class divides (eg express, normal academic, normal technical stream), another apparent issue which emerged out is the class divide regarding money. I was surprised that kids as young as 10 years old are comparing who has the more expensive school bags and pencil boxes with their classmates.

You can watch a snippet of the video below:

"If you've the most expensive things, you're the most popular also". This was commented by a young primary school girl. The class difference only gets worse and worse as students are divided into different streams in secondary school and it even continues in adult working life. 

Our society has gotten use to this kind of segregating people in life. In schools, the better students are put into special or express streams while the weaker ones are put into normal academic and normal technical streams. This makes the students who are in the normal streams feel less inferior to their peers in the express and special stream while the express stream people tend to look down on the normal stream people too. 

Then, as we proceed to the higher education level, there are some people who get into Junior college,  some into Polytechnic and some to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Thereafter, some proceed to local university such as NUS, NTU and some choose to go private universities. The difference is again apparent as even employers sees the degrees differently. 

It doesn't stop here. In the workplace, we continue to segregate people into different class through the management associate program where it is a fast track program for employees to advance their career faster. People in this program tend to be treated differently at workplace and also get promotion up to twice as fast as another employee who is not in this program. The starting salary and future salary adjustments may be different too. 

The above are just some of the examples of how we as a society contribute to class divide unknowingly. While in this society nothing is fair, those who make misinformed choices in life at an early stage will inevitably lag behind in life.

How would you describe the expectations your parents have of you?

In the video, it is apparent that those who end up in the normal stream have thoughts which are different from the students in the express or even integrated program. Parents of these students have different expectations of them too which is quite distinctive. 

For students of integrated program, their parents expect them to pursue education such as law. They also expect them to get at least an A for their exams. 

For students in the normal stream, when asked what's their parents expectation of them, they say they just expect them to just pass. They don't expect very high grades

Does Having More Money Makes Us More High Class? 

In the same full 48 mins video about class divide, it goes on to discuss on how higher class people look down on people such as security guards, cleaners and so on. A condominium security guard who was interviewed said he has been shouted at by residents and called names such as stupid security guard. This shows the great disrespect these people have and think they are high class living in a luxurious condominium. 

You can watch the full video here

Ultimately, I always believe that having more money does not make us a bad person but it amplifies whatever character we have no matter if we are poor or rich. Having more money does make us feel better about ourselves especially when our income power increases. But, we should always remember not to look down or show disrespect for those who are worse off in life. At the end of life, we are actually only just a normal human being no matter which social class we belong to. 

Some of us may have made misinformed choices when we were younger and regretted the choices we made back then such as not studying harder and in the end didn't manage to get a good job to earn higher income. In any case, there are people who still manage to become successful even though they came from a lower class background. With some knowledge of financial planning, it helps along the way to become more financially secure for our lives. 

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  1. Hi,

    The best approach is to be a low-profile peasant.

    Choose a neighbourhood primary/secondary school. Go to one of polytechnic. For guys, do NS. For gals, can start work. For guys, start work after NS. Do part-time degree while holding a full-time employment Work for about one to two decades and invest the earned money in shares. Resign from the corporate world and do things on own terms and preference.

    Disregard the status as they are not relevant to one who prefer minimalist lifestyle.

    The above is my route.

    To each of one's own.


    1. Hi Ben,

      Its good you can ignore what's happening out in the world and not be affected, focusing on your goals. Not many people can do that though.

    2. Hi SGYI,

      It's up to individual's preference and desire on such goal. Everyone can do it. It's just the matter of taking action to make it happen.

      This may not be applicable for those who desire glory, wealth, status etc. This is more desirable for one who prefer to be a simple peasant with low profile identity.

      If the above is not what you desire, it is not suitable for you.

      My two cents worth of views.


  2. Excellent article. The class divide in a society is a major issue today with everything being measured on the basis of money possessed. This should be checked and stopped soon otherwise we are sure to face problems later.