image: youth.sg

Thoughts from the release of PSLE results

by Property Soul

Last Friday was an exciting day for me as I joined the parents of 38,942 primary six students who had their PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) results released on Black Friday.

The PSLE result experience

It was done in the school hall where all the pupils sat in lines on the floor. Their equally-anxious parents were seated behind at the back of the hall.

Before my elder daughter joined her classmates, I reassured her that I would be proud of her regardless of her PSLE score, and my love for her would not change.

When the clock struck eleven, the big screen showed a presentation titled “PSLE Celebration” instead of “PSLE Result”.

To the school, PSLE result is team effort and school achievement for celebration. However, to the parents and their children, PSLE result is a personal matter. Whether they can celebrate or not depends on the result of individuals.

The principal went up the stage to share how the school performed above national average in every subject. About 25 students who did exceptionally well found their names appeared on the screen. They were asked to stand up while their schoolmates applauded.

As expected, my girl was not one of them. But that didn’t bother me at all.

What really matters in life

Our society likes to celebrate academic achievement, career accomplishment and financial success. Our media loves to report stories of scholars, young CEOs and under-30 millionaires.

Because of my passion in property investment, I have met many smart people and high performers who have achieved success and wealth. Many have done so early in life.

Unfortunately, some don’t have good ethics. Some can’t find happiness despite what they have.

This changes my perspective of life.

When we had kids, I told my husband that we should set three expectations (and only three). We want them to be healthy, happy, and have good values.

Upholding the values of uncompromising integrity and respect is a priority. Academic performance is only secondary. Unlike her peers, my daughter has never been to any tuition or interest class. Our promise is no tuition if she doesn’t fail. High or low marks, there is no reward, incentive, punishment or consequence. She only has to answer to herself.

Do they really need help?

I grew up in a British colony that adopts a laissez-faire economic policy (non-interference, no control or involvement by the government). I naturally adopt the same positive non-interference policy in my parenting style.

1. No proactive and unnecessary assistance.
2. No well-intentioned “unsolicited” help.
3. Learn to solve your own problems.
4. If you need help, make the effort to ask for help.
5. Never take my help for granted and be thankful afterwards.

We like to believe that we have a conducive learning environment. We teach by examples when we maintain our curiosity about new things and practice continued learning. The hardware is there. The kids have to develop their own software.

I am not educated in Singapore and can’t help much in my girl’s school work. She has to rely on herself most of the time.

Because of PSLE this year, my husband would check her progress one to two months before the exams. For me, I got her a pendant from the jade market in Hong Kong to wear on exam dates for good luck.

It’s all for your own good

In Singapore, there are many government grants and incentives for startups, SMEs and different industries. We offer a lot of consultation, training and financial assistance for those who may need support. We have government rebates and stimulus measures when we think people may need them.

Did all these schemes meet the objectives and produce the results they originally target? Are we helping people to help themselves or simply allocating funding and resources? Are the beneficiaries thankful for the help they received?

From 2009 to 2013, the Singapore government has done a lot to help “maintain a stable and sustainable property market”.

The government didn’t just do it once or twice, but introduced eight rounds of cooling measures. For the last round in June 2013, the good-intentioned TDSR (Total Debt Servicing Ratio) was implemented to help borrowers from falling into the trap of over-leveraging when buying their homes or investing in properties.

For all the authorities have done, we can see that the objectives are met and the results are satisfactory. They also help to contribute to Inland Revenue with new taxes such as Additional Buyer Stamp Duty and Seller Stamp Duty.

Are investors, homebuyers and the general public grateful for all the property cooling measures and buying restrictions?

Picking the right schools

Finally, it was my girl’s turn to receive her PSLE result. She turned around and walked up to me cheerfully with her result booklet.

I know she would be happy with an above average score. She knows I would be happy for her too. Because her mother knows very well that we can only set high expectations on ourselves, but not on our loved ones; otherwise it will be painful for both.

With less than a week’s time to submit the wish list for secondary schools, there’s no time to waste.

The school values and CCAs are more or less the same. Since we stay in the northwest of Singapore, we ranked all the schools in the north and the west that have high cut-off points last year.

The cut-off point of the top one is too high for her. The second one is my husband’s alma mater. Unfortunately, it is a borderline case for her. The third one is too far from home. The fourth and fifth ones she can definitely get in. But the rest of them have a cut-off at least ten points lower than her PSLE score.

To fill in a wish list of six choices, we still had four more to go. Besides North-South Line and East-West Line, we started to explore centrally-located schools along Downtime Line and Circle Line.

With so many new MRT lines and stations, more schools have become accessible now. We no longer need to move house to stay near to good schools.

Will “near a good secondary school” lose its appeal as a property’s selling point one day?

We spent the whole afternoon taking trains and walking to the shortlisted schools to find out the exact traveling time from home.

At night, when my girl came to kiss me goodnight, she told me to sleep early as it was a long and tiring day for me. She thanked me for spending all the time and efforts to help her on the secondary schools. She said she would be happy to get in any school in the wish list.

I told her that, after I relocated to Singapore, for 19 years no one ever asks me about my secondary school, not even which college I go. Most people ask me what I do for a living and which company I work for.

It really doesn’t matter at all.