The Straits Times
Published on Nov 20, 2012

Don't publicise top scorers and their results


I WELCOME the recent remarks by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam to temper the stress and expectations of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), which are greater than they should be ("PSLE not the be-all and end-all: PM", last Saturday; and "Tharman supports rebalancing of PSLE system", Oct 29).

There is now a golden opportunity to manage perceptions and to reduce the PSLE's significance among pupils, parents, teachers and principals.

This year's results will be released on Thursday, and I suggest a blackout of the details of the exam's top performers.

The Education Ministry should take the lead, with the cooperation of the media.

Not publicising the top scorers - and scores - will also be in line with the position taken by the ministry to de-emphasise awards for the Singapore Youth Festival ("Schools' SYF scheme revamped"; Nov 12). 

Prominent coverage of the top performers, including racial and demographic differentiation, perpetuates the exam's importance and exacerbates the stress and anxiety among its stakeholders.

Downplaying top performances will help reduce the pressure on pupils, parents and schools.

Principals should avoid the temptation of trumpeting the achievements of their top performers by hanging banners on their school fences touting their success.

While we should celebrate excellence, we should not reduce it to a three-digit score (the PSLE aggregate) or indeed to any mere number.

Tan Soon Meng