People are different, and their differences can be categorized into respective levels and ranks. When such classification occurs, there will be a division amongst the people in terms of status, whereby people with better talents, physical attributes and social background are deemed to be superior. This will then lead to discrimination and prejudice against people belonging to a lower class and rank, leading to elitism.
One example of elitism can be seen in Singapore’s education system. Educational pathways are stratified according to ability and aptitude, and this stratification may be deemed to be highly hierarchical. In the past, Singapore’s primary schools’ students are being sorted into respective class of EM1, EM2 and EM3 according to their results. EM3 students are ‘those who are less able to cope with Languages and Mathematics’ and their syllabus would be that of a lower level set of Foundation English, Foundation Mathematics and Basic Mathematics. In the transition from primary to secondary schooling, the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) at the age of 12 is used to further sort pupils, into the Normal (Technical), Normal (Academic), Express and Special streams, although everyone has the choice to select their desired secondary school to pursue their education, the success of the student choice is also largely dependent on their PSLE scores, where a higher result will give them a higher chance of entering a prestigious school that is of their choice. After secondary school, pupils go on to junior colleges, polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education, where entry is based on a points system calculated from their results at ‘O’ Level and administered centrally by the ministry of education (MOE). The top and elite junior colleges include Raffles Junior College is fond of comparing itself to the elitist Eton and Harrow public schools of England, while other junior colleges (JC), such as Jurong JC (JJC), are not dissimilar to state 6th-form colleges in the UK. Hence, from these examples, we can see that elitism can also exist in educational system due to the difference in abilities and aptitude of the students.
Besides that, we can also see the existence of class discrimination due to difference in working or family background. People of wealthy status or whose parent has distinguished jobs and a family name of resounding reputation are often treated respectably and looked up upon. For example, the Indian Caste system, people are being treated and ranked according to their occupation. People of the lowest rank are not allowed to interact with people of higher rank, and unable to enjoy the same facilities or treatment as people of higher rank such as not allowed in temple to worship with others, nor retrieve water from the same sources. Thus, we can see that people that are deemed as in a lower class level due to their job or social background are being discriminated against and prevented from enjoying the same rights as other people of higher class level.
Also, due to differences in physical attributes, problem of class discrimination also occurs. One example is in America, where the Blacks are viewed as in a lower class level than the Whites due to their skin color. They feel that the Blacks are of a lower class than them as they viewed the Blacks as dishonest and a disgrace because of their skin color. Hence, the Blacks are denied a better job opportunity, housing conditions and other basic rights, due to the class discrimination they White have against the Blacks.
However, due to globalization and advanced technology, importance of human rights is raised and democracy is implemented. Freedom of speech is encouraged and any unfair treatment towards any respective group of people can be known instantly with the help of advanced technology tools such as the Internet. The implementation of laws that prevent class discrimination and prejudice are also carried out to promote social peace and equality among different people. This can be seen in the Singapore society, where meritocracy is implemented to ensure that equal job and education opportunities and rewards would be allocated on the basis of demonstrated competence as well as hard work and not because of unfair determinants of any other factors such as skin color or social background.
With the help of various policies and adjustment, class discrimination can be reduced and proper rights can be given to everyone. In conclusion, as long as we do not judge each other based on our differences, discrimination of class and ranking can be prevented.