The reviewing of criteria and the opening of another Higher Chinese class in St Hilda's Primary School came about following feedback to the school from the Ministry of Education (MOE) ("St Hilda's to add extra Higher Chinese class"; Feb 7).
I am concerned with the MOE's intervention.
A score of 97 marks in Second Language Chinese obtained in Primary 2 does not necessarily suggest a high proficiency in the language, especially when 25 per cent of the cohort achieved above this score. It could mean the paper was set at an undemanding level.
Did the MOE attempt to understand other factors, rather than focus on the justification for the cut-off point?
For example, the disparity in proficiency in the language among the cohort would determine the standard of the paper.
Another possible factor is the profile of the cohort, such as whether pupils are largely from English-speaking homes. This would determine the pace of learning Chinese.
Is there also an element of kiasuism involved, where parents do not want to lose out on every opportunity available?
It is clear that not being ready to take up Higher Chinese at Primary 2 will not result in a pupil losing interest in learning Chinese.
On the contrary, when a young pupil is not ready to learn at a quickened pace, he will lose interest in learning the language, and this counteracts efforts to encourage bilingualism.
The Ministry previously said that it was up to schools to decide on the selection criteria for pupils to take up Higher Chinese ("'How can 97 marks be not good enough?'"; Jan 14). It seems to be reversing its stand now.
Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said in a recent interview that the key ingredients to our success story are "our teachers and the first-rate work they have done".
This confidence is not reflected by the extent of autonomy the MOE has given to the school.
This highlights, once again, the dilemma faced by some schools these days.
As a parent, I notice that schools spend time and effort to manage parents and the Ministry. In the process, they are hindered from effectively carrying out what they know best.
Doreen Leong May Yuen (Ms)