SINGAPORE: Senior Minister of State for Education Lawrence Wong has said Singapore needs a broader sense of what "merit" means in "meritocracy".
He was addressing a group of young Singaporeans at a dialogue about social change on Thursday evening.
Mr Wong said: "Not that meritocracy is flawed, but it’s about having a broader sense of what merit means. Merit is not just about academic abilities. But merit is about excellence in doing whatever we want to do, whatever we’re passionate about.
"So I think if we take that broader sense of what meritocracy means, and we embrace different definitions of success in society, but we still try to provide as many opportunities as possible to individuals —— to every individual whatever their station in life. Then I hope we can be a better society for it."
The dialogue’s participants came from different community groups, including the Eurasian, and Young Sikh Associations.
The topic of the evening was how young people can work as change agents. Over two hours, they discussed a wide range of issues, from education to volunteerism.
Their suggestions included a call for youth representation in Parliament, and also, a future Singapore without "kiasu—ism", or the fear of losing out.
Faris Basharil, chief executive of Social Creatives, said: "Kiasu—ism is something very prominent in Singapore. What we actually hope to see is more expression from different individuals, more cultural elements, to basically cultivate a sense of belonging."
Cumarran Kaliyaperumal, a member of the SINDA Youth Club, wants to see more youths stepping up at all levels of society. He said: "We’d like to see some youth representation at all levels, whether it’s at the grassroots, in terms of community self—help groups, or even in Parliament, where we can actually talk about what we strongly believe in, and the kind of values we bring to the table."
The dialogue is part of an ongoing programme, called Social Narratives, started by youth volunteers. Like other ground—up programmes, it is now also joining in the wider Singapore national conversation.
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