Preserve meritocracy in education

Now that the Primary School Leaving Examination T-score is to be replaced with wider scoring bands, there needs to be certain "tie-breaker" systems to determine how pupils will be sorted into the various secondary schools.

Some have suggested implementing a balloting system ("A not-so-tidy system? Maybe, but consider the gains too"; last Saturday). I do not share this sentiment.

Singapore has gained accreditation for its world-class education system that is based on the core tenets of meritocracy.

We place much emphasis on the idea that all students, regardless of their social backgrounds, have the opportunity to excel, as long as they are willing to work hard.

This means that any primary school pupil should be allowed to enter a secondary school of his choice, as long as he meets the admission criteria set by the school.

Balloting goes against the fundamental principles of meritocracy, as we are leaving things to chance rather than ability. This method is too arbitrary and, therefore, unjustifiable.

The move away from tests that place excessive emphasis on academic results is a step in the right direction.

But, as much as we would like to see a transformation in our education system, we must preserve the key ideas that the system is based on.

Ashley Tan Yu Yi, 16,

Secondary 4 student

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Preserve meritocracy in education'. Print Edition | Subscribe