Singapore has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, standing at 97.1% in 2020. However, a high literacy rate does not translate to equal educational opportunities or resources. Educational inequality is a topic explored in Teo Yeo Yenn’s anthology of essays that took Singapore by storm, This is what inequality looks like. In it, it shed light on how inequality manifests in the education system. In particular, access to resources such as tuition and physical materials. Despite the bleak picture that it paints, there have been digital initiatives that have sought to bridge this educational gap. From websites providing free compiled notes to a student community that helps each other with homework, these are a few digital initiatives paving the way for equal opportunities to educational resources.
SmartGuppy was created to reduce educational inequalities, especially during this time of Covid-19.
On their website, you can find materials that cover everything from Primary School, Secondary School, Junior College and International Baccalaureate. Students can access notes, exam papers and even textbooks. Students who wished to share their own notes uploaded these materials, which helps to build a helpful and collaborative community.
SmartGuppy also holds a free tuition programme at Eunos Community Centre.
OwlCove is a free, non-commercial project that was started by a group of friends. Just like SmartGuppy, it relies on materials digitally uploaded by other students.
However, OwlCove only contains material that covers the A level syllabus and International Baccalaureate. Something interesting to note is that they have a request function for students to request for notes on topics that are not present on their site (as seen in the above image, on the top right green button).
OwlCove also has a blog dispensing advice from surviving A levels to raising awareness on mental health.
Lastly, we have SGExams. SGExams started as a sub-forum on the popular forum site, Reddit. It became a forum for students in Singapore to discuss exams, schools, and school-related issues.
It later grew from its humble beginnings as an Internet forum into a student organisation with 27000 members that have partnered with organisations such as The Ministry of Education and National Youth Council Singapore.
Materials on SGExams range from primary school to university. In addition, the materials comprise official school exam papers, notes and personal notes uploaded by students. In the past, they hosted the materials on a google drive cheekily called the Holy Grail. After its recognition as a student organisation, they host their materials on their official website.
Who are the Patatas?
Here at the Patatas, we are also concerned about tackling education inequality in Southeast Asia. We are a social enterprise that has worked with schools in the Philippines such as our CaseStudy project with Tiwala Kids and Communities and have several exciting upcoming projects! Just like the founders of the websites above, we are currently exploring innovative ways to give opportunities to the communities without power or internet to make education accessible to them through technology. If you are interested in working with us, reach out to us!
Though the thought of tackling education inequality is daunting, the future looks bright with so many digital innovations arising to tackle this issue. Young people have been the ones driving these initiatives and it is really encouraging to see many involved in such social issues.