Project 3: Inequality
Meritocracy is a core value in Singapore. As much as it makes sense to select people based on merit, it’s important to recognise what drives merit and success. Beyond individual ability and attitude, other factors like access to resources, network, and a support system play a huge role. When individuals are born into, or fall into circumstances that affect the extent of access to these other factors, this inequality affects outcomes.
I read “This is What Inequality Looks Like” by Teo You Yenn earlier last year, and it brought to life the inequality in Singapore. One of the major themes highlighted was education. Earlier this year, one of the topics raised at the political debate in Singapore was education. A number of articles / discussions also caught my attention.
I created this project to find a way to illustrate what inequality looks like to me, and its implications. I hope it can serve as an easy / visual way to keep in mind that inequality exists, draw parallels between the craft and the issue, and philosophically imagine what needs to be done to address it.
Representing the issue with craft
I thought about using masks as the medium for this project given their practicality now (given the Covid pandemic). I sewed some of my own masks, and realised there are parts I can vary to bring across the message, especially because the mask design is in two halves.
Lived experiences shared by 3Pumpkins
For this project, I got connected with 3Pumpkins, a non-profit community arts organization that provides a safe space for children to express and discover themselves, as well as to socialise with others through play and arts-based facilitation. Before finalizing my plan of sharing the story behind this project and the various designs, we had a discussion, and thought it would be meaningful for the community to get a glimpse of lived experiences of some of the children who participate in the Tak Takut Kids Club programme (TTKC). TTKC is a community children space open to children in Boon Lay especially those staying in public rental flats. These will bring to life what different starting points look like for some children here in Singapore
Lived Experience 1
“Tak Takut Kids Club keeps the children away from depression and the problems we have at home and in school. The children love coming here to see our friends. I treat everyone here like my family.” CL, 12-years old.
Lived Experience 2
10-year-old A takes care of her three younger sisters and brother while her mother copes with other household chores. A often has to complete her schoolwork while attending to her siblings’ requests. Even when there are classes provided for free, it is usually not possible for A to attend due to the parental roles she has to play.
Lived Experience 3
“I thought I was stupid, because I still cannot read but my friends can. The teacher at TTKC told me it is because I started learning late but I can catch up. Now I can tell friends who make fun of me that I am not stupid.” C, 9 years old.
Lived Experience 4
“我们的爸爸妈妈不会说英语。在学校，所有的课都是用英语教的，所以我们跟不上。” A&F, 12-years old and 8 years-old.
(Our parents do not speak English. In school, everything is taught in English and it’s hard for us to catch up.)
Reflections on Inequality (parallels from the crafting process)
A special aspirational piece - a vision that even with different starting points, everyone can flourish
Check out the project on Craft For Conversations' Instagram posts for more photos and commentary
All proceeds from this project are donated to 3Pumpkins to support their fundraising campaign, "This Is Us!", to raise $25,000 to cover 2021 rent for their Tak Takut Kids Club programme. Please contact me if you would like to make a donation/contribution to this project