The Straits Times
Published on Dec 05, 2012

Four ways to ensure greater fairness in schooling


PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong's comments on preserving meritocracy here can be linked to the recent hot topics of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and stress on young children ("'If not meritocracy, then what?'"; Monday).

I am sure all parents want their children to enjoy their childhood, but many feel that they have no choice but to push their children to perform.

The problems are caused by the current school enrolment system. Certain practices fly in the face of meritocracy.

First, children of alumni get priority in Primary 1 registration.

Second, secondary school entry requirements for pupils from affiliated primary schools are lower than those for pupils from non-affiliated schools.

Third, pupils in the Gifted Education Programme enjoy a lower secondary school entry requirement than others.

For greater fairness, and to help reduce the stress children face, abolish the alumni advantage in Primary 1 registration and free up more places for other pupils.

Second, disallow secondary schools from having different entry requirements for pupils from affiliated and non-affiliated primary schools.

Third, base admission to secondary schools strictly on the PSLE results, and remove the advantage of being in the gifted programme.

Finally, ban the Direct School Admission scheme.

Kevin Lee