Limit Higher Mother Tongue to students with real ability

Instead of doing away with Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools, secondary schools should limit Higher Mother Tongue (HMT) to students who show a flair for the subject ("Time to end SAP school system" by Mr Teo Tze Wei ; Monday).

Currently, many secondary schools are offering HMT to their students, especially the Integrated Programme schools and top secondary schools.

According to one principal, the purpose of making the students take HMT is so that they can get the subject "over and done with" by Secondary 4 and will not need to spend time on their Mother Tongue subject in junior college.

As a result, some students who are not good in HMT struggle to do well enough to pass, and spend a disproportionate amount of time on the subject, compared with other subjects.

Students are taking HMT not because they are interested in the subject or have a strong ability in it.

They are doing it because it gives them a two-point concession for entering a junior college, and because those who score a D7 and above for HMT at the O levels satisfy the entry requirement for three universities here.

If the Ministry of Education is telling parents to consider their children's interests and strengths when choosing secondary schools and subject combinations, why is it allowing some secondary schools to make it compulsory for their students to take HMT, regardless of the students' abilities in the subject?

Maybe a publication of the recent O-level results for HMT will shed some light on this issue.

Jake Goh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Limit Higher Mother Tongue to students with real ability'. Print Edition | Subscribe