Forum: Give all students a chance at DSA by beefing up school resources

As I look at many of the Direct School Admission (DSA) requirements for secondary school, I get the impression that Singapore’s education system is becoming more elitist rather than meritocratic.

To get a spot in the secondary school of your choice based on, for example, sports, you would need to have certain achievements and awards and have taken part in competitions.

Many neighbourhood primary schools have a limited number of co-curricular activities (CCAs) and the students may not have the chance to be exposed to the sport they are keen on. Those who want to spend more time at a sport to be much better at it may require extra lessons at their own expense, something their parents might not be able to afford.

For instance, gymnastics is not offered as a CCA in most schools. If the child is keen on this, the parents need to have both time and money for the child to take classes outside school. To do gymnastics at a competitive level, a commitment of at least six hours a week is required on weekdays.

This is also true for other sports, such as soccer, as not all schools offer this.

In addition, not all neighbourhood schools offer exposure in varied activities for their students such as coding, robotics or entering competitions such as the Maths Olympiad.

With the difference in exposure starting from young, meritocracy is no longer based on one’s abilities and talents, but whether your parents have resources.

We should make it such that “every school is a good school” by allocating more resources in terms of bigger budgets, more teachers and programmes to all schools, and ensure the same opportunities for students in all schools.

Huang Jia Hui

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