Children to sit PSLE, O-level oral exams in person this year despite tighter Covid-19 measures

The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board will monitor the situation and provide updates to exam arrangements. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Children will sit the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and O-level oral exams in person this year, despite tightened Covid-19 measures.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said oral examinations are conducted in person to align with teaching and learning methods for language subjects in schools that focus on face-to-face communication.

"A change in the mode of the oral examination would result in candidates being less prepared to perform and interact with the examiners in an online setting," said a SEAB spokesman.

"Face-to-face interactions also allow the oral examiners to observe the candidates more closely and provide prompts to candidates, if needed."

SEAB also said it is working with schools to ensure that social distancing measures will be in place, so that these exams are safe for both students and examiners.

Measures include placing a clear plastic shield between the candidates and oral examiners, disinfecting facilities and staggering dismissal times for the children.

SEAB said it will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation and provide updates if there are changes to exam arrangements.

From May 19 to the end of the second school term, all schools in Singapore conducted home-based learning (HBL) due to a sharp spike of Covid-19 cases in the community.

The Ministry of Education said the mid-year GCE O- and A-level mother tongue examinations would proceed as planned, with strict safe management measures in place, when it announced HBL earlier this month.

Parents said that in-person exams were welcomed.

Mrs Pat Koh, 42, whose child is preparing for the PSLE oral examination scheduled to begin on Aug 12, said: "It is already difficult for some kids to get themselves heard during in-person exams, imagine having to grapple with connection issues on top of that."

The O-level oral exams are scheduled to start in July.

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