Today’s issue of TODAY screamed the headline, “MP echoes calls for PSLE to be scrapped“. MP Hri Kumar had blogged to support slaying the PSLE sacred cow, as long as alternative can be agreed on. During the Committee of Supply (COS) debate on MOE in parliament in March this year, I had made a call to allow parents to opt out of the PSLE when I presented a proposal for primary to secondary through-train schools . The Workers’ Party manifesto had also called for a primary-secondary integrated prorgramme as well.
Education is something close to the heart of Singaporean parents. PSLE is something so entrenched in our system that many wonder what the alternative would be.
I would have preferred outright primary to secondary through-train schools for everyone. No need for an alternative to decide how to sieve and stream students. No need for some secondary schools to be more special than others. Have 10 years to prepare them for the first major examinations at secondary 4. This concept sounds alien to us because we have been so used to an ever increasing competitive system that continously sieve out students to place them onto pathways planned for them to ‘maximise’ their learning, and to determine how resources should be appropriately allocated according to students’ abilities. Through-train from primary school is not a new concept though, as other countries have tried such a model, most notable of which is Finland. Finland had reversed an earlier policy that had streaming and elite grammar schools into one more egalitarian, and had achieved acclaimed international success with this transformation.
However, being practical, I agree that it would be too difficult to implement such a drastic change within a short time. I had conducted focus group discussion with many parents before I presented my proposal at the COS on MOE this year. Many I had interviewed could not imagine what it would be like without PSLE. A common response that came back was, “How do we...
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