The Straits Times
Published on Nov 21, 2012

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water


I WOULD urge caution in reforming the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), which has hitherto worked well ("Don't publicise top scorers and their results" by Mr Tan Soon Meng, and Forum Online letters "Nip elitism in the bud" by Mrs Suzy Egan and "PSLE review's Rorschach test" by Mr Rodney Neo; all published yesterday).

We must be mindful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Parents are thus far the harshest critics of the PSLE, and I wonder if it is their perceptions, and not the education system, that ought to be under review instead.

Parents often try to project their expectations onto their offspring, and they are often the ones who trumpet their children's academic prowess.

Human beings are innately competitive and, take away the system, I am sure other ways will emerge for parents to continue to benchmark their children against their peers.

Policymaking sometimes neglects to take into account those for whom the policy matters.

I am an immensely grateful product of the system and am firmly against radical changes that will move it away from meritocracy.

We cannot shield children from competition in the long run.

Shielding them in schools and even within the country will be a disservice to them.

Eventually, children will grow up and must compete globally.

Singaporeans especially must not only survive but also thrive in a rapidly globalised world.

What chance will they have if we do not provide them with the best tools and environment to thrive?

The Government should consider the ramifications of any change before implementation, and be mindful of populist measures that may eventually compromise our ability to compete globally.

Tan Suan Jin