Forum: Consider pilot programme for through-train system to provide an alternative option to PSLE

I am a concerned parent of a Primary 6 pupil who is sitting the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Straits Times senior political correspondent Grace Ho asked if more can be done besides replacing the existing system of streaming students based on their PSLE results (My teacher was disappointed in my PSLE score, but I tried my best, Sept 26).

She quoted a 2017 study by the Institute of Policy Studies which found that 42.5 per cent of parents agreed or strongly agreed that the PSLE should be pushed back or postponed to a later age.

MP Denise Phua has called for the removal of national exams such as the PSLE and replacing it with a 10-year through-train system.

I do not think that Singapore should go to the extreme of abolishing the PSLE, seeing as there are many parents who think it should stay for various reasons.

However, I think we should explore a middle path, where parents like myself who do not wish to put their children through the PSLE have an alternative option.

Perhaps Singapore could consider a pilot programme in which selected schools conduct a 10-year through-train programme.

For example, a secondary school that already has an affiliated primary school could allow pupils to progress from Primary 6 to Secondary 1 without the need to sit the PSLE.

Primary and secondary schools could be matched based on their geographical location, common historical background, affiliation or any other suitable criteria.

Such partner schools could also be picked from different geographical locations to give parents in different neighbourhoods access to this through-train programme.

To satisfy parents who are fixated on sending their children to "brand name" secondary schools, these schools could retain the status quo and be excluded from this through-train pilot programme.

Their limited spots would be obtained based only on merit, that is, the best PSLE scores or through a stringent Direct School Admission process.

I urge the Ministry of Education to explore more pathways and options.

Sim Swee Kiok