SINGAPORE (Mar 11): The two announcements by Parliament last week that spoke of “philosophical” shifts have been heartening.

The first, on March 5, on the Education Ministry removing the categorisation of students into “Normal” and “Express” streams in secondary school — dubbed a “sacred cow” by one Member of Parliament — was definitely welcome. The rationale is that teenagers aged between 13 and 17, already burdened with problems, will have one less social stigma to deal with. More importantly, the proposed greater customisation recognises that students have varying interests and corresponding abilities, and allows them to develop at their own pace. This, it is hoped, will make the best of each student’s talent and help the student realise his or her full potential.

There are details to be worked out. But as we report in our story this week, some observers believe the changes will, at the very least, improve the social mixing in schools. This issue was raised a few months ago in a documentary that highlighted how class, and not race or religion, was the greatest divide in Singapore society. And, that class consciousness began in school.

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