O levels, IP or IB - each track has its benefits

I am troubled to learn that there is a perception that O-level students are inferior to those in the Integrated Programme (IP) ("No shame in O-level track" by Rachel Loh Si Ning; April 27, and "The O-level track of shame"; Feb 4).

The fact is that an O-level student has more choices at the end of four years of secondary school education. He may go on to take the A levels, pursue an International Baccalaureate (IB), study for a diploma in a polytechnic, go directly to an overseas university via a bridging course, or take up a one-year foundation course of studies in, say, Britain.

For that matter, an O-level student also has the option to switch to the IP after the second or third year of secondary school if he shows he can do well.

IP students, on the other hand, have determined that they want to pursue only one route, direct to the A levels, for the next six years.

The issue here is one of choice. I fail to see how students who have taken a tried-and-tested route that confines themselves to one outcome can, in any way, be considered better than those who choose a route that leads to more choices.

The prevalence of this negative perception implies that the Ministry of Education and the individual schools have failed to make it clear that every course of education - be it IP, O levels or IB - has its inherent benefits and that no one course should be seen as superior to another.

Boon Chin Aun

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2016, with the headline 'O levels, IP or IB - each track has its benefits'. Print Edition | Subscribe