Diversity and Equity in Singapore Education: Parental Involvement in Low-Income Families with Migrant Mothers

  • Siao See TengEmail author
Part of the Education Innovation Series book series (EDIN)


With its prominence as one of the top-performing systems on international tests such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Singapore’s education system is often regarded as a reputed one in the international arena. This is often seen as a result of much investment in education both at the individual family and the societal level. Having transformed from an underdeveloped country to a largely middle-class developed society within a few decades, education is seen as holding the meritocratic key to a better life. With increased literacy, wealth and fewer children in families over the 50 years of Singapore’s independence, parents focus on more spending and efforts on supporting their children. However, in recent years, there has been a rising concern that the meritocratic promise the Singapore’s education system holds is diminishing (Koh, Doing class analysis in Singapore’s elite education: unravelling the smokescreen of ‘meritocratic talk’. Glob Soc Educ 12(2):196–210, 2014). Growing income disparity in Singapore has led to concerns about an emerging “parentocracy” (Ong, Beware growing ‘parentocracy’: NIE don. The Straits Times. Retrieved May 24, 2015, from, 2014). Children from better-off families are seen as having competitive advantages through their parents’ ability to provide better resources such as quality private supplementary education and/or even old school connections to enable their enrolment in prestigious schools. With greater globalization and demographic trends in recent years, understanding the needs of Singapore’s diversified low-income families becomes even more crucial in order to better support students from these families so as to mitigate the ills of “parentocracy”. This chapter aims to contribute to the knowledge on the profile and parents’ educational support of low-income families through a study on migrant mothers’ involvement in their Singapore citizen children’s education. It attempts to throw some light on who these families are, the kind of parents’ educational support offered to these students and the challenges faced in rendering that support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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