Time to relook DSA scheme

Senior education correspondent Sandra Davie in her Sunday Times commentary highlighted two groups of people who failed to thrive in the Integrated Programme (IP) system (The shame of dropping out of the Integrated Programme; Dec 30, 2018).

One of them comprises students who entered the schools via the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme through their co-curricular achievements.

What she highlighted supports my view about gaining admission into elite schools through DSA.

Clearly, many DSA students cannot cope with the academic rigour of the schools.

According to the commentary, there appears to be a great divide between the DSA students and those who enrolled using their PSLE scores. The former feel ashamed of their DSA status and suffer from low self-esteem.

This leads me to question: Is the DSA scheme really such a good idea?

One of the reasons given for the DSA scheme is the bid to increase the school's diversity, but what is the point of greater diversity if it is at the expense of young students' sense of self-worth?

How does the DSA scheme even benefit students?

I believe there is nothing inherently wrong with the IP and, in fact, it has been successful for the majority of students who go through it.

Those who enrolled through DSA experience difficulties in the IP because it is not suitable for them.

I urge the Ministry of Education to revisit the rationale for the programme, and re-evaluate the usefulness and the need for the DSA scheme.

At the same time, I hope parents do not force their children to enter IP schools just for "face", but consider their children's abilities and interests as well.

Chong Sze Kah (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2019, with the headline 'Time to relook DSA scheme'. Print Edition | Subscribe