When the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results were released last year, 40-year-old Iswani Haji Afandi, a clerk, looked through the Ministry of Education's information booklet on secondary schools with her daughter.
Instead of seeing which school's cut-off point matched her daughter Nasuha Yusuf's score of 253, she shortlisted schools based on distance and the programmes Nasuha was interested in.
They settled on Jurong West Secondary School (JWSS) as their first choice, and secondary schools in the area like Juying and Pioneer.
The Jurong West school stood out for its programmes, including a work attachment scheme and an applied learning programme under which students can tap infocomm technology to come up with solutions to social issues.
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR FUTURE
Back in our time, there was no such thing as a work attachment programme. It really helps when you enter the working world, and it prepares students for the future.
MADAM ISWANI HAJI AFANDI, on the work attachment scheme at Jurong West Secondary School, which her daughter is attending.
"Back in our time, there was no such thing as a work attachment programme. It really helps when you enter the working world, and it prepares students for the future," said Madam Iswani.
To find out more about the school's culture and learning environment, she also looked up online forums and websites, and was reassured when she did not see any negative feedback or reviews.
As Nasuha's PSLE T-score was much higher than the average score of 203 for students who joined the express stream in her year, her colleagues asked why she did not choose to send her daughter to a more competitive school.
"I tell them that a student's performance does not depend on the school, it depends on the student," said Madam Iswani, adding that Nasuha, 13, who has two younger siblings, has proved this by scoring mostly As for her year-end exams at JWSS. Her sister, 12, hopes to attend the same school next year.
Nasuha, who was in the infocomm and robotics club at Corporation Primary, has learnt to play the clarinet as part of the school band at JWSS despite having no music background. She is also a member of the JWSS student council, where she is involved in planning student initiatives and administration.
It takes her just 10 minutes to walk home from school. "If I went to a school that is farther way, it'll be very late when I reach home and I'll be very tired because I won't have enough time to rest," she said.