Don't let PSLE results define you, say inspiring viral posts

Eunos Primary School students receiving their PSLE results on Nov 25, 2015.

SINGAPORE - Two inspiring stories by Singaporeans who did not do well in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) but went on to have successful careers have been widely shared online.

Mr Derrick Lee, 22, posted on Facebook his story on how he scored 174 for his PSLE 10 years ago and went on to make the "wise choice of enrolling in Institute of Technical Education (ITE)".

The post has been shared more than 2,000 times since it was published on Wednesday (Nov 25), the day this year's results were released.

Mr Lee said that he continued to do badly in secondary school until he found his passion - information technology. This spurred him to work hard for his 'N' Levels.

Even though he did well enough to go on to Secondary 5 and take his 'O' Levels, he chose to go to ITE to pursue what he loved.

He wrote: "Studying something you love isn't really studying, I loved every moment in class, I did well and I participated in competitions which had a huge impact on my resume. I graduated as a bronze course medallist and went on to Nanyang Polytechnic as a second year student."

During his polytechnic years, he took part in Channel U talent hunt Hey Gorgeous, in 2013. He later appeared in Scrum, a TV drama about rugby players.

Mr Lee, who is doing his national service, has been accepted into the Singapore Management University's School of Information Management, and has plans to start a business.

His post appears to have inspired many people as it has chalked up thousands of 'likes' on Facebook. It was also shared by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.

Mr Lee added: "Looking back, I'm glad I made a wise choice of enrolling in ITE. My point is, your PSLE results doesn't determine your future, you determine your future. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? Don't let a minor setback get in the way of your dreams. If I did well for PSLE, I wouldn't be who I am today. I would probably be a government scholar by now."

Criminal lawyer Josephus Tan had a similar message for students who got their PSLE results on Wednesday - that their score should not define them.

In a photo on Facebook, he is holding a sign that says "183" - his PSLE score in 1991.

He said: "It's neither the start nor the end of your beautiful lives. You might not understand this now but I know in time to come you will. If you can, treat this as just another piece of homework. No more, and certainly no less. That's really all there is to this PSLE.

"You must be wondering now why am I telling you all these right? In my 36 years, I have the fortune of meeting some truly exceptional individuals who went on to excel in sports, music, business, finance, law, medicine, engineering, and academia without getting a good PSLE score when they were at your tender age of 12. Conversely, I have represented criminals who had done much better in their PSLE and are now currently serving time in prison."

His post has been shared more than 800 times.

Mr Tan, 36, has a chequered past. He was a teenage rebel who became alcoholic. Once, he assaulted his family members after drinking. His father slapped him hard, spurring him to turn over a new leaf.

He went on to read law, and completed his pupillage under prominent criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan. He was called to the Bar in May 2009, and now spends a large part of his time on pro bono work.

A total of 39,286 pupils sat the PSLE this year.

Some 98.3 per cent of the cohort passed the exam and can move on to secondary school. This is higher than 2014's 97.6 per cent.

This is the fourth year that the Education Ministry is not revealing the top PSLE scorer in a bid to reduce emphasis on academic results.

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