The Workers’ Party (WP) former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Yee Jenn Jong on Wednesday (28 Apr) highlighted the need of having through-train schools that do not require students to go through Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), noting that the children’s character and values are as equally important as their academic.
Earlier on Tuesday (27 Apr), the Ministry of Education (MOE) rolled out a new scoring system for the PSLE, which will allow all Primary 6 pupils to receive Achievement Levels (AL) of 1 to 8 – instead of the regular grades of A to E – for each of their four subjects.
The total score will be the sum of the AL of each of the four subjects, with the best total score being 4.
The indicative scores are the scores of the first and last students who would be given admission into each school under the new scoring system, based on the 2020 cohort’s results and school choice patterns.
The MOE stated that just like the previous T-score aggregate system, schools’ score ranges may differ from year-to-year, adding that slight fluctuation in cut-off points can happen and would typically be by 1 AL.
Following that, Mr Yee shared his own academic journey on his Facebook page on Wednesday, noting that he understands “the anxiety of some parents” over the new system.
“I was from the last batch of PSLE takers who did not even know our scores. We only list our choice of schools and we were told either Pass or Fail and if we got our choice,” he wrote.
Mr Yee’s parents, who were both Chinese teachers, sent him to St Stephen’s School because they felt that founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s policy of having English as the main language could benefit their children.
“So they chose a Catholic school near our home as the school would provide us the English speaking environment we would not get at home. Almost our whole cohort chose St. Patrick’s as our first choice for secondary school, to be with our friends.
“We did well. The top student in the entire east of Singapore for O levels for my year came from St. Pats,” he added.
Mr Yee went on to share about his children finding their path in their academic journey.
“When it came to my children, we put our daughters in my wife’s primary school, Haig Girls which was nearby. My son went to St. Stephen’s. They all went to neighbourhood secondary schools.
“One chose the polytechnic route, the other two decided on the JC path. Am thankful that they all made it to our local autonomous universities. They all found their calling in life, what would work best for them. And they are all so different despite sharing the same genes,” he wrote.
Mr Yee noted that they never set “any target” for their children to be “in gifted” or “top schools”, instead, they let the children find their own way.
“Academics are important but so too their character, values, life experiences and the friends they make.
“If a through-train Primary to Secondary school without PSLE was available, with no option for entry into any of our top schools, we would have gladly signed them up for such a school,” he added.
Mr Yee noted that he had also proposed in Parliament, as well as in the WP’s manifesto, to provide pilot schools option for “Singaporeans who do not wish to be trapped in the chase”.
“10 years would be a long enough time for the school to work on them holistically, without the stress of high stake exams early in their lives,” he noted.