Pupils taking PSLE oral exam among those affected

The Education Ministry said pupils were not required to pick up these excuse letters at MRT stations, but should inform their schools.
The Education Ministry said pupils were not required to pick up these excuse letters at MRT stations, but should inform their schools.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Caught in a train disruption on the day of her PSLE oral examination, Primary 6 pupil Shalini Kallimuthu feared she would be barred from taking it when she finally made it to Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School in Bishan more than 30 minutes late.

Not only was the 12-year-old allowed to sit the exam, but a teacher also got breakfast for her and allowed her to calm down before proceeding with the exam.

She was among those affected by the disruption - the second day signalling faults had caused delays during rush hour - lasting about three hours yesterday morning between 6.30am and 9.22am.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) was quick to assure affected pupils through a Facebook post yesterday morning that arrangements would be made for those who arrived late for their Primary School Leaving Examination oral exams.

They did not have to pick up excuse letters at the MRT stations, but should inform their schools. MOE also said they could take the exam at a later time if necessary.

Fewer than 10 candidates taking the PSLE oral examination yesterday reported late due to the train disruption, the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) said in response to queries.

"They were given time to rest upon reaching their school before taking their oral examination, and were given the full duration for their examination," it added.

MOTHER'S FEARS

When Shalini's teacher called me in the morning to ask why she was not in school yet, I was so worried.

MADAM SUSILAH BALAKRISHNA, whose daughter Shalini Kallimuthu was taking the PSLE oral exam yesterday. The 12-year-old was more than 30 minutes late.

There were two sessions - one from 8am to 10.30am, and the other from 11am to 1pm.

SEAB said the Land Transport Authority alerts it to any major train service disruption during the national examination period.

It also said candidates will not be penalised for being late if they have difficulties getting to examination centres due to train service disruptions.

Shalini, who lives in Bukit Batok, said: "The train (to Bishan) was very slow. I was rushing, and a bit angry and anxious."

The disruptions did not rattle just the pupils.

"When Shalini's teacher called me in the morning to ask why she was not in school yet, I was so worried," said the girl's mother, Madam Susilah Balakrishna. "I called my daughter, who told me she was stuck on the train."

The 38-year-old pharmacist added that she was not just concerned about whether the pupils could take their exams, but also whether they would be stressed out because of the delay.

Guangyang Secondary School student Anuar Abdullah, 17, said he was around 30 minutes late for his mathematics preliminary examination. It was supposed to start at 8am. He lives in Telok Blangah Crescent and was delayed on the North-South Line, waiting for more than 10 minutes at Raffles Place on a crowded platform.

"I still could take (the exam)," he told The Straits Times, adding that the teacher of the school in Bishan allowed him 25 more minutes for the test.

Account executive Candy Tan, 26, who had a client meeting in the Raffles Place area, took a GrabHitch ride, which set her back around $11, as she did not want to be late due to delays on the Downtown Line.

Mr Max Loh, EY's managing partner for Asean and Singapore, said he saw e-mails from staff saying they would be late, and from clients who had to delay meetings.

"It is definitely disruptive because things don't proceed as smoothly as they should and people get frustrated," he said.

But he added that this should not affect business much, unless delays "start happening every other day", affecting productivity.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Pupils taking PSLE oral exam among those affected'. Print Edition | Subscribe