Streaming in schools ‘can break down racial barrier’

  • AseanPlus News
  • Monday, 04 Aug 2003

STREAMING could help, rather than hinder, racial mixing in schools, by keeping students of different abilities in the same schools. 

Giving his take on a policy that has been cited as an obstacle to racial integration, Acting Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that the situation could be worse if there were no streaming. 

“At least we have a system which keeps a range of students of different abilities in the same school,” he said on Saturday at a teaching scholarship presentation ceremony, where 201 such scholarships and awards were given out. 

The students can get together during recess, extra-curricular activities and competitions. 

In many countries, he added, good students simply go to good schools, leaving others in average or weak schools, thus causing even more segregation. 

“There’s something very deceptive about the systems that don’t practise streaming. What they really have, in practice, is streaming by school. 

“Does it encourage integration? I doubt it.” 

His solution to the divide: find creative, spontaneous and enjoyable ways of encouraging interaction. 

“It shouldn’t be forced, it becomes too contrived, and nothing that’s contrived really lasts. 

“I wouldn’t want to sort of put a straitjacket on schools on this; it won’t work that way.” 

Giving an example of an enjoyable way to integrate, he spoke of a Special Assistance Plan school he visited recently where Chinese boys had taken up sepak takraw. 

One of the boys later told him that he wanted to be a national sepak takraw player. 

“Now, he may not become a national sepak takraw sportsman, but something has been planted in his mind in an unforced way, which is what I’m talking about.” 

But he added that the level of mixing varies in different schools and that in some, there is such an extensive amount that students are not very conscious of race. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network  

Singaporean Vijaya takes a minute to wipe of her sweat while she works on part of a 50ft by 50ft Rangoli (a traditional Indian doorstep painting) on Sunday Aug. 3, 2003 in Singapore. This record-breaking attempt of the largest Rangoli in the Guiness World Record is organized by residents of the city-state in conjunction with National Day celebrations for the up-coming week. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-e)

For another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network, click here.

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