An extract from FY 2011 Committee of Supply Debate: 1st Reply by Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence on Social Mobility — The Singapore Story: Past, Present and Future:
Positive International Accolades
33 International experts have also analysed our progress and provided a sound basis for comparisons with other countries.
34 The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which conducts the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), has constructed an Economic, Social and Cultural Status (ESCS) index to measure the socio-economic background of students. OECD found that across the education systems participating in PISA, there was a general positive relationship — the higher the ESCS, the higher the PISA scores. In all countries, Singapore included, students from better socio-economic backgrounds do better academically.
35 But, they then found that in some education systems, among them Singapore, China, Korea and Finland, a larger proportion of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds were able to perform better than predicted. OECD called them “resilient students”, students who excelled despite having come from less favourable circumstances. We were ranked 5th out of 65 countries for the proportion of resilient students. Almost one in two of our students were resilient, compared to one in three in the OECD. The PISA average was 26% – or one in four.
Full speech here.