Change mindsets before policies

Our education system has often been dubbed a "pressure cooker".

Changes to the Primary School Leaving Examination scoring system to reduce stress and competitiveness are laudable and will, undeniably, play a vital role in changing the mindsets of pupils and parents ("New PSLE scoring system to have 8 grade bands"; last Thursday).

But is it truly a step in the right direction?

Having bands will have no effect on the emphasis placed on grades, as it will not stop pupils from trying to improve academically - pupils will now focus on improving or maintaining their bands instead of marks.

There is no guarantee that a student will get a spot in a sought-after secondary school, even if he is very high-achieving.

This would give rise to a spike in the number of students who try to secure a place through the Direct School Admission scheme, which would put more pressure on them to perform well in co-curricular activities and competitions.

All this would perpetuate the mindset we so desperately want to change.

Mindsets have to change before policies change. It cannot be the other way round.

Julia Ng Xin Yu, 16,

Secondary 4 student

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Change mindsets before policies'. Print Edition | Subscribe