Singapore's Ethnic Education Problems

Contrary to popular perception, Singapore does actually have a working Parliament, in which ministers are occasionally asked questions, some of which are not plants.

In Parliament Monday, one such incident occurred when Zaqy Mohamed, vice-chairman of the ruling People's Action Party's youth wing and an ethnic Malay MP, asked the education minister what was being done about the persistent educational under-performance of ethnic Malay students compared to Singaporeans of other ethnic backgrounds.

The problem is a serious and persistent one. Figures from the Education Ministry show that while Singaporean exam results have increased across the board over the last decade, the stark disparities between the city-state's main three ethnic groups remain.

In 2008, just 59.3 percent of Malay students achieved 5 passes at O-level, the exams taken by 15 and 16-year-olds, compared to 86.2 percent of Chinese and 73 percent of Indians.

For additional details, please see The Asia File at Asian Correspondent.