Having received my primary and secondary education in Singapore, and my tertiary education overseas, I must say I did not fully appreciate the benefits of streaming by the former until I embarked on the latter.
At many overseas schools, people of multifarious abilities were put in the same classes, and it was clear the rigour and speed of each class would slow down to accommodate those having difficulties with grasping the concepts.
The obvious downside to this was that those most adept at learning soon became bored and started to look for something else to do, sometimes outside the classroom, and truancy became rampant. Ironically, their grades were dropping due to absences and non-participation.
The less-obvious downside to this was that the schools did not fulfil their responsibility to stretch these otherwise capable students to their full potential and, in a way, let them down in their bid to cater to those less expeditious.
On the other hand, I agree that streaming students has its own drawbacks too (Streaming has both pitfalls and benefits: Ong Ye Kung, Feb 20).
Everyone blossoms at a different age, yet the stigma of being assigned to a lower stream might stay with the person.
Thus, I recommend that Singapore streaming be as fluid as possible, allowing those who have shown readiness to be able to move upstream, with efficient weaning mechanisms in place to better facilitate such moves.
This would, of course, require more resources on the part of the Ministry of Education, but our human capital is an asset class well worth the investment.
Singapore has long been a living proof of fused paragons that work to the envy of others.
For example, our healthcare prototype fuses a mandatory health savings account with a free market system of insurance products, and our low-tax financial blueprint is complemented by the Net Investment Returns Contribution and fiscal prudence.
In the same fashion, I am sure we can construct an effective fused model for our education system.
Lily Ong (Madam)