Raise DSA bar to admit only the naturally talented

While many Primary 6 pupils had only one stressful event to handle last year - the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) - 16,000 others had to go through two stressful events - the PSLE and the Direct School Admission (DSA) process ("Record number of pupils applied for direct entry to Sec 1"; Jan 23).

The DSA scheme was introduced with noble intentions, but parents have turned it into an additional trial for pupils.

Children are being sent for training in sports, music, art, theatre or dance even before they start primary school.

This has resulted in a nation of children who lack time for free play, leisure, reading and even sleep. It has also created a greater divide between families with resources and those without.

Indeed, Jalan Besar GRC MP Denise Phua has said that it is an "open secret" that the DSA benefits children who have more resources from a young age.

With the Ministry of Education reviewing the scheme, I hope that concrete steps will be taken to eradicate such a bias.

The bar should not be set too low. Admission through sports, music and the arts should be limited to only a small number of pupils with exceptional natural talent .

Alternatively, the MOE could consider implementing the DSA only for Secondary 3 or tertiary admission.

This would certainly reduce the stress on younger children.

Wong Kim May (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Raise DSA bar to admit only the naturally talented'. Print Edition | Subscribe