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A/P Wong Meng Ee


Associate Professor

National Institute of Education - Psychology and Child & Human Development

Wong Meng Ee is presently tenured Associate Professor at the Psychology and Child & Human Development academic group at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

He researches and teaches in areas of special and inclusive education, assistive technology, disability studies and teacher education across diploma and postgraduate courses.

In growing up as a disabled Singaporean with visual impairment, he did not realize how entrenched meritocracy was until later when he pondered over the position of disabled people in a meritocracy. With meritocracy here to stay, a major concern is how persons with disabilities will feature in such a system given the challenges they confront with access, resources, and attitudes concerning disability. This is explored in his chapter “The struggle for merit in meritocratic Singapore: Implications for persons with disabilities” published in a co-edited book: Wong, M. E. & Lim L. (2021). Special needs in Singapore: Trends and Issues. Singapore: World Scientific

Presentation Topic and Synopsis

Forging a Compassionate Meritocracy for Students with Special Needs

In Singapore, meritocracy is widely regarded as a “core principle of governance… and close as anything gets to being a national ideology” (Low, 2014). However, this has led to problems such as the creation of an elite class and a wide socioeconomic gap between those who have achieved and those who presumably have not.

In response to these problems, local political leaders have suggested that Singapore might benefit from a more nuanced iteration of meritocracy. For instance, the notion of a “compassionate meritocracy” was first espoused in 2013 by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. It was recently mentioned again in June 2022 by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the Forward Singapore Exercise.

However, what does a “compassionate meritocracy” really mean and importantly, how might this benefit students with special needs? The accomplishments of these students will invariably differ from more traditional conceptions of merit. Furthermore, is it even possible for a meritocracy to be compassionate, and have we considered other alternatives (such as egalitarianism) sufficiently?

Join us at this panel discussion where we will hear from a group of thoughtful and experienced experts, teachers and parents on their views and perspectives of how we could begin to define an inclusive working model of a compassionate meritocracy for all Singapore students.

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