Wednesday, September 5, 2018

This is what inequality looks like by Teo You Yenn

This book is a game-changer.

Professor Teo You Yenn, head of the Department of Sociology at the Nanyang Technological University has just published a book about the underprivileged in Singapore. This book features material from 3 years of ethnographic research on families living in rental flats in this country.

Even though the author is an academic, this book is written for the layman in an easy-to-read manner that allows one to go through the book without any great difficulty.

We are eased into the topic with an introduction that lays bare the reality of the poor in Singapore. This chapter is named “Step 1: Disrupt the Narrative” and with good reason. We have all been sold the well-known narrative of a country that went from Third World to First in a matter of decades and how we were once poor and now rich. But what about those who have not shared in the country’s success story?

We are told why this matters and what is at stake here.

The book is arranged as a series of essays that can be read in any order, but they have been arranged to be read as a totality and in sequence. I did that and would highly encourage all to do so.

Different ones will find different chapters resonating with them.

For me, it was the chapter on education.

I’m not surprised when she revealed that Singapore’s education system, hailed as one of the best in the world, most likely perpetuates inequality instead of allowing the poor to level up. This is because in an age where every child is sent for multiple tuition and enrichment lessons, the poorest of us who are unable to afford these classes lose out.

The chapter on race that the author was “strong-armed” by her editors to write too proved to be a good lesson in sociological terminology.

After reading this book, I became more acutely aware of the my own privilege and will make an effort to support the poor and needy in the little that I am able to.

I’d highly encourage everyone, Singaporean and non-Singaporeans, to grab a copy of this book to uncover the hidden realities of those living in poverty in a first-world country like ours. Click here to buy a copy today!