Forum: Gifted Education Programme a boon for giving students a head start in literature

I read with interest the letters, "Reassess gifted programme in schools" (Aug 23) by Ms Sunita Sue Leng, and "Gifted Education Programme a lifeline for talented students" (Aug 24) by Ms Lena Chan Chern Chern.

I am writing from the perspective of a former Ministry of Education teacher whom parents had entrusted their children to, from the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) preparatory classes to the follow-up coaching sessions for pupils who made it into the programme.

In the article, "The poet's place in Singapore" (Aug 24), Professor Koh Tai Ann cited the results of a National Arts Council National Literary Reading and Writing Survey in 2015 that less than half of Singaporeans read literary books. In the words of Prof Koh, "educationally, language and its best expression, literature, have a symbiotic relationship".

While there are reading programmes in place and reading lists provided in the mainstream curriculum, literature is neither taught nor assessed as a separate subject formally in primary schools. However, the GEP curriculum includes literature-oriented units and award-winning novel-based units. Students are taught to interpret and respond to rich text through structured questions and activities.

Considering that the talented GEP students are given a head start with an early introduction to literature, I wholeheartedly endorse the GEP. To the GEP teachers and Ms Chan, I salute your commitment to the cause.

To Ms Sunita, I would like to say: "Let's keep things in perspective - the overall situation isn't really that bad."

Irene Fong

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