The English Answer Key Claims Kopitiam Workers Are Poor

Remember correcting your school homework mistakes using a green pen back in school?

While many of us may be guilty of copying model answers robotically, sometimes the answers presented to us may bewilder us instead.

Miss Lim, a primary school English tutor, recently came across a rather baffling answer key, which stated that those working at kopitiams are poor.

Here’s her post in full.

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Controversial model answer

One primary 6 student approached Miss Lim during tuition one day, exasperated at a question she was marked wrong for in school.

The question required them to read a story, and indicate if several statements regarding the passage were true or false, and why.

In this instance, the student was required to answer if “The author came from a well-to-do family”.

The student wrote that the statement was false because the “Author wanted to buy a cake but only could afford a slice of cake.”

While the student got the true/false part of the question correct, her elaboration wasn’t quite on point.

Here’s a look at the ‘correct’ answer in green, according to the answer key.


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Yes, you read that right. The ‘correct’ reason why the author did not come from a well-to-do family, was because “The author’s mother worked in a kopitiam.”

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Student’s dad worked in a kopitiam

The primary 6 student then told Miss Lim she didn’t agree with the answer key, as her father is a hawker but their family wasn’t poor.

She was further infuriated that people would make such assumptions about hawkers.

Tutor CIA-ed the passage

Miss Lim then decided to give the passage a read herself and found that the author’s mother was a popiah stall owner.

She then skimmed through the essay expecting to find that the popiah business wasn’t doing well, but that wasn’t the case as well.

Instead, business at the shop was booming and patrons were flowing in.

For context, here’s the passage in question:

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The tutor ends off by questioning why the school was teaching students that being a kopitiam worker equates to being poor.

A slippery slope

Despite being a simple primary 6 answer key, this may actually be indicative of an underlying issue of society often judging someone’s socio-economic status (SES) based on their job alone.

Perhaps beyond teaching kids in school today to question the ‘standard’ answer key, we should also consciously seek to break stereotypes towards blue-collared workers, starting from school.

After all, we do not want our future generations to be looking down on fellow members of society.

How do you think schools can play a part in preventing our youth from adopting such a mindset? Let us know down in the comments below.

Featured image from Facebook.