Pupils midway through MTL-in-lieu classes in a bind

Pupils of Rosyth Primary School at a Chinese lesson.
Pupils of Rosyth Primary School at a Chinese lesson.PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Peter Wadeley states in his letter that a pupil who is exempt from mother tongue language (MTL) and obtains A* grades for English, maths and science will effectively receive an A* for MTL (Pupils exempt from MTL benefit under current PSLE scoring system, Aug 15).

But the MTL-in-lieu grade does not appear on the Primary School Leaving Examination results slip, as happened last year to my child, who studied French in lieu of Chinese as my husband is French.

The MTL-in-lieu grade probably pulled down her aggregate score because she had done really well in all other subjects.

When I applied for my children to take up French as MTL-in-lieu, I was asked to show evidence that they have indeed been studying the subject, because in secondary school they would have to cope with a secondary-level syllabus under the Ministry of Education (MOE) Language Centre.

So I was surprised that MTL-in-lieu languages now have a lower standing than the official MTLs.

The MOE has said it did this for parity, but how is this fair to children like mine, who have invested years and hard work in other languages?

Since the MOE recognises French, Japanese and German as MTLs-in-lieu, it should not differentiate them from other subjects.

There is also no valid reason to categorise these languages as foundation subjects because they are just as difficult to master as Chinese, Malay or Tamil.

If the MOE wants to change its policy, it is reasonable to request that pupils who are midway through their studies under the old policy be spared the change.

Many have applauded the MOE's new grading for MTL-in-lieu or MTL-exempted pupils.

But perhaps they have been misled into believing that these pupils have the upper hand when in reality they do not.

Julianna Neo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2019, with the headline 'Pupils midway through MTL-in-lieu classes in a bind'. Print Edition | Subscribe