Does family income determine the academic performance of a polytechnic student?

The recent spate of news articles over elitist advantage in Singapore education system has created a big hoo-ha within our little red dot. Many Singaporeans have come out debating against the ‘Elite schools’ over the presumed majority of its student population hailing from the affluent class.  Critics have sharpen their knives saying that the unfair education policies in place have enabled the children from wealthier families to get a head start such as primary schools accepting students based on their household proximity, and the presumably better primary schools such as Raffles Primary School (located within Bukit Timah area) gives an unfair advantage to the rich households living in Bukit Timah.

However, through my own experience, in my entire school life, even through National Service, I believe that family income does not necessarily affect your performance in schools. Yes, definitely, there would be advantages where students from lower income group might not be able to afford such as Overseas Immersion Programme where the fees can easily hit up to tens of thousands dollars. However, knowing that not all students are able to afford such programmes, schools do not take into account such programmes when grading the students. At the end of the day, it is not the amount of overseas trip the student went, but his projects and exams that count in his final GPA.

There are many articles that are based on how students are able to perform well academically against all odds. These stories are usually inspiring and they are able to serve as potential role models for the next batch of students.

For CCO105 Social Research, under the tutelage of Professor Lim Chee Han, I was a social scientist attempting to understand how the society works by conducting my own research and consolidating my findings. Honestly, this journey was not easy. It was like a throwback to my PW days in JC where sleepless nights were the norm in rushing to adhere to the various deadlines. However  at an advanced level in University, we were instead tasked to recreate the whole PW style of assignment on an individual basis. It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and challenged my boundaries.

I stepped into Ngee Ann Polytechnic (my sample population), found a spot at the cafe and immediately set upon completing my task by asking random students to fill up my surveys. After the consolidation of my findings, there was more to come. We had to contextualise our findings and present it in the form of a report. The entire project was completed during the revision week, a few days before my finals. It was indeed the first challenge after National Service, where I had to meet deadlines, and yet revised for the finals. And it certainly felt very sweet when I saw the end product of my research findings!!!

And indeed, family income does not determine a student’s academic performance in polytechnic. My hypothesis is correct.

Research: ECA T07 Tay Yu Siang

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