The Straits Times
Published on Nov 22, 2012

PSLE: Don't change for the worse


I AM not certain what the advocates for changes to the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) want, or what the decision to stop naming the top scorers means ("MOE stops naming top students"; yesterday).

The system has worked well, and offers a fair and transparent way to allow the most academically inclined pupils to have their pick of secondary schools.

The message is clear: To qualify for the school of your choice, you must work for it.

Fight for your place if you believe that the school you want is relevant to your ambition and can provide the education you desire.

Work harder if the school has a higher cut-off point, or ease up if it has a lower cut-off.

Parents must learn to accept that perhaps their children are destined for other paths to success, and help them realise their potential.

It is not a recent development that renowned schools like Raffles Institution, Hwa Chong Institution, Anglo-Chinese School and National Junior College have dominated scholarship lists, and produced outstanding graduates in top universities like Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and Stanford.

Demand for places in these schools will certainly outstrip supply; these schools have the pick of the best candidates who will benefit the most from their programmes.

To enable children to get into their desired schools through a relaxation of the criteria is a travesty of meritocracy, akin to telling Cambridge and Harvard not to offer places to the brightest, and multinational corporations not to select the best.

Have our children become so sheltered that their parents are not prepared to let them fight and compete for something worth their while?

How long can we shield our children from the harsh realities of life?

The sooner they learn to accept life's simple truths, the better for them.

Resilience, adaptability and competitiveness are hallmarks of success. These are the qualities that will stand our children in good stead as they progress in life, and not to have what they want handed to them with less effort.

The Government should not swing to the other extreme and possibly dumb down the education system, as Britain has found to its cost. In Singapore's case, the damage might be irreparable.

Ang Peng Seong