PSLE results 2019: Boy who had cancer learnt to write, speak and walk again before sitting exam

Tao Nan School pupil Lim Rui Ze, 12, with his parents Lim Wei Hong and Shereen Wong, both 41, at the school before receiving his PSLE results on Nov 21, 2019.
Tao Nan School pupil Lim Rui Ze, 12, with his parents Lim Wei Hong and Shereen Wong, both 41, at the school before receiving his PSLE results on Nov 21, 2019.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - When he sat the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) this year, Lim Rui Ze had to use a computer for the English paper.

This is because the 12-year-old has had to relearn how to write, speak and walk after a medical crisis.

Barely three months into Primary 1, Rui Ze was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous tumour in the brain. The surgery which removed the tumour also caused him to lose his motor skills as well as the ability to speak.

During treatment, he stopped attending school for about 15 months and instead spent time at the Children's Cancer Foundation's learning centre - Place for Academic Learning and Support.

It helped him keep up with what his peers were learning in school, which meant he did not need an additional year in school.

On Thursday (Nov 21), Rui Ze, an only child, returned to Tao Nan School to collect his PSLE result slip.

He spoke to the media with his parents before collecting his results.

While his condition has improved, speaking and writing are still difficult. He is also dependent on a wheelchair or walking frame to move around, and uses a ventilator to help him breathe.

He was allowed to use a computer to type out English compositions when sitting the school exams and the PSLE, as his arm cramps easily from writing.

 
 
 

He was also given extra time to do all his papers.

His mother, Madam Shereen Wong, 41, said: "In Primary 3, when he returned to school, he had such a hard time that even with extra time given to him for exams, he could only write three sentences for the composition component."

Madam Wong, who used to be a teacher but quit to take care of Rui Ze, sat in classes with him to help him take down notes so he could concentrate. She did this for about two years, from Primary 3 to when he completed Primary 4.

His teachers and classmates also helped, she said. He was allocated a ground-floor classroom, and his friends looked out for him in school.

If he missed something the teacher said, they would fill him in.

His father, Mr Lim Wei Hong, 41, said sports has really helped him on the road to recovery.

Rui Ze is part of the junior handcycling team under the Para Cycling Federation of Singapore. He won a silver medal in the 200m race at the National Para Games last year, an experience he described as "tiring".

But when asked if he has ever thought of giving up in his fight to recover from his illness, he said: "Never. My parents always tell me to do my best. That's what they always do."

Across the island, 40,256 pupils sat the PSLE this year, up from 39,672 last year.

For the fourth year running, 98.4 per cent of this year's batch did well enough to progress to secondary school.

It matched the rate in 2016, 2017 and last year, and remains the best performance since the national exam was introduced in 1960.

From 1980 to 2015, between 81.7 per cent and 98.3 per cent of pupils who sat the PSLE were eligible to enrol in secondary schools.

 
 

This year, 66.3 per cent of the cohort qualified for the Express course in secondary school, down from 66.6 per cent last year. In 2013, a record 66.7 per cent made it to the Express course.

Of the 2019 cohort, another 21 per cent are eligible for the Normal (Academic) course, and 11.2 per cent for the Normal (Technical) course.

Students eligible for secondary school received option forms when they collected their result slips.

They will be able to access the online system to submit their secondary school choices from Thursday to next Wednesday.

The Secondary 1 posting results will be released on Dec 20.