Pupils exempt from MTL benefit under current PSLE scoring system

School children carrying their bags on July 4, 2019.
School children carrying their bags on July 4, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

Some parents claim that the way the new Primary School Leaving Examination scoring system will be applied to children exempted from studying mother tongue languages (MTL) is unfair (Parents petition to review PSLE scoring system for those exempt from MTL, Aug 13).

On the contrary, I think the current system is patently unfair and needs to be changed without delay.

Under the current PSLE scoring system, a pupil who is exempt from MTL who obtains A* grades for English, maths and science will effectively receive an A* for MTL without ever taking the subject. I was told that this happened at my son's primary school last year.

Many pupils find MTL difficult. But this should apply equally to all pupils.

My son is a Singaporean who studies MTL. He is hopeless at the subject, and this had a concomitant impact on his PSLE T-score. But it is fair to all the other pupils that he had to study MTL.

Up until last year, my daughter was uninterested in learning Chinese.

Like her brother, her grades were dropping test after test. But after seeing what happened to her brother in the PSLE, she responded by watching Chinese drama serials.

Now a Primary 4 pupil, she refuses to watch anything in English and often prefers to converse in Mandarin.

Her grades in school have gone up.

While I have the greatest sympathy for those who cannot learn MTL due to disability or other reasons, all students should face the same requirements for entry to secondary school.

As for my son, he is fine in his new school. He has found his own interests and is currently pursuing them with great vigour.

Peter Wadeley

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2019, with the headline 'Pupils exempt from MTL benefit under current PSLE scoring system'. Print Edition | Subscribe