Voices of Youth: CCAs may not be best way to measure students’ capabilities

The Leaps (Leadership, Enrichment, Achievement, Participation and Service) 2.0 framework, school graduation certificates and co-curricular achievements - all of these were implemented by the Ministry of Education with good intention - to recognise accomplishments beyond academics and promote the holistic development of students.

But 12 years into the Singapore education system, and I am starting to think: Are these systems truly serving their purpose in recognising the different strengths of students, or are they actually exacerbating educational inequality here?

Encouraging students to develop themselves beyond academics is a good goal.

But using the number of co-curricular activities (CCAs) students have to boost their chances at entry to university can be problematic.

This is because comparing the calibre of students based on their co-curriculars assumes that every student has the luxury of time and emotional capacity to engage in multiple CCAs.

Financial difficulties, family issues, and other extenuating circumstances snatch away precious time and emotional energy from students, making them less able to engage in CCAs.

And because of this, they are told in school that they are lacking compared with their peers. They are unable to score as well as their peers. They are mistakenly led to believe that they are not good enough. I know this, because I have experienced this.

It is time to recognise that some measures we adopt may be losing their effectiveness as a vehicle for social mobility, and that those who lose in this system are not necessarily those who are less capable. Maybe it is time we drop those measures.

Tan Wan Rong, 18

JC 2 student

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