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04 Oct 2019
Movement for change
Suggestion View - 629
No need for PSLE exams to be so tough

Education minister Ong wanted to change the education system to reduce the stress for students.

I examined his changes and declared that they do not address the root of the problem. I was proved right.

What happened?

I said that the underlying problem is that the education system aims to pick the top students for the top secondary school and later for scholarships to prestigious overseas universities. 

If the reward is set at a high level, parents will continue to do the best that they can to make sure that their children become top students. The children from wealthy families will continue to get the advantage. Those from poorer families will be disadvantaged.

To get rid of this competition, we have to stop identifying the top students. We should only look for students who passed and those who failed. In each cohort, about 90% should pass in each year. 

If the focus of the examination is changed, most students will continue to work reasonably hard to pass in each year. This will achieve the goal of the education system - to get students who are well educated, and who can think. 

Why did I say that the new system proposed by the education system has failed? Surely, it is too early to say?

The answer is obvious. It is reflected in the complaint by a mother that the questions set for the Mathematics paper are too tough, and that caused her son to be discouraged and disillusioned. It seemed that the questions are being set at a high level to pick out the top students. 

The harm and negative impact of this approach is daunting. The goal of the education system should be to encourage and not to discourage the students.

We need to change the focus. We have to stop trying to identify the top students. We have to stop trying to identifying the people who should get the prestigious and valuable overseas scholarships - to be followed by an iron rice bowl for a million dollar career in the public sector.

Minister Ong - I hope you are listening.

Tan Kin Lian 

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