60% of students who enter schools via DSA live in HDB flats: Greater analysis needed

Recently this month, NMP Janice Koh requested information pertaining to the average and median household incomes of students who enter the DSA (Direct Schools Admission) Scheme, to which Education Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat answered as such in a written reply during a sitting of parliament: while the ministry does not track household incomes of students admitted via the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme, some 60 per cent of students who were admitted via this scheme over the last five years live in HDB flats.

Reproduced below are two interesting online reactions.

Netizen Sushi88 had this to say:

"Maybe her intent for asking is to surface the myth that DSAs are awarded to better-off families' kids is really just a myth in people's figment of imagination? "

Netizen Maestro agrees:

"This data like I said is meaningless until it's further interpreted/analysed by the requestor."

Sushi88 then continues:

"I think money cannot buy everything. If the kids are not good enough to manage the talent they use for DSA, it will crash. Why envy people who actually put in great effort to manage their talent and give them a hard time? We should encourage our children to look at the tenacity and willpower of these children who persevere for their dreams. Yes, our kids may have also persevered but just not enough or out of luck if all being equal at the DSA session.

The only suggestion I have for DSA is for those who failed but demonstrated high potential, they should be given a second chance to "re-audition" because sometimes they are just not in form during the first trial. Also, when given a second chance, we see the grit in the child to succeed, then chances of surviving the IP school will also be higher. Is this not what we want from the children to be able to survive the programme? PSLE scores sometimes may not tell the story of a child as well as a second audition.

So if extending the number of DSA places for this group of PK kids, then I am supportive. However, just opening up another larger number of DSA seats as mentioned earlier by MOE, I see not much sense in that....it just increases the number of competitors to try to grab the DSA seats without improving the quality of intake for IP schools."

Adding on with her own take, Maestro says:

"NMPs or MPs ask for straight-forward data in written form from Ministers monthly for their own research/record/positioning purpose. With reliable data from the civil service, they'll retreat to their think tank to analyse, sharpen or debunk their 'hypothesis' (say: "Students who enters sch thru DSA come from higher income households"). These could be or could not be used later in her papers or cuts, if applicable.

In this instance, she fails to obtain significant stats from MOE, as such she can't establish the correlation between wealth (i.e. more affluent families can afford tuition and non-academic enrichment, therefore children have a better headstart) and DSA (which is for the higher ability kids with multi-skills).

In the last sitting in Sept 2013, Janice Koh had requested for no. of GEP students who got in via DSA. Based on the official stats she got from MOE: "The number of students eventually admitted via DSA to secondary schools is around 2,800 per year. Around 15% of the students admitted to secondary schools via DSA were from GEP", she was able to establish that:

420 GEPPERs got in thru DSA. Yearly, we know there are abt 500 GEPPERs. Therefore, she calculated 84% of GEPPERs (or 9 in 10) got into via DSA. And after mining the data, her conclusion was: If you get into GEP, there is a very high chance you will get in thru DSA.

However, from these latest stats, i.e. 60% in HDB, she is unable to support her hypothesis (if there is one at all) that: "Only kids from higher-income families have the means to do well academically/in sports or arts and hence could get in through DSA".

Why? Many of you have already pointed out, so what? 80% of Singaporeans live in HDB and HDB dwellers could be in the higher income bracket too.

The (vague) manner in which the data was presented is not accidental. The terse reply is in fact in line with the whole-of-govt messaging, that DSA is based on meritocracy; there is social mobility in Singapore; and every Singapore child has equal access to good education; amongst others--as Sushi88 has rightly pointed out.


The Czar (Site Founder)

Dated 26 October 2013


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