Did Primary 5 boy fall to death because he failed his mid-year exams for the first time?

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picture credit: Lianhe Zaobao

Earlier this year, Zaobao reported that a 11-year-old boy fell from the 17th floor of his flat on 18 May at about 6.45am. The boy who was in his school uniform, was found dead at the foot of the block at Block 470 in Fernvale Link.

The newspaper reported that the boy was to have collected his exam results from his school for his parent’s signature that morning, and that neighbours heard the family quarreling before the incident took place.

The incident happened after the father left the apartment to get his car, which was parked below the block. Neighbours told the paper that the boy’s father was earlier seen kneeling by his son’s lifeless body apologising profusely. When reporters arrived at the scene, they saw the mother sitting on the ground crying. The boy’s mother said that her son was very lively in the morning before he fell.

A 19-year-old resident living on the third floor of the flat said he heard a loud thud in the morning followed by loud cries of the student’s mother. Police classified the case as unnatural death.

A coroner’s inquiry into the boy’s death yesterday (20 Oct) was told that his mother thought he had killed himself over his exam results. His father however thought that it was only an accident. The mother is 45 years of age and the father, 47.

The Inquiry heard from the Police that the mother would lightly cane the boy on the palm if his average score across all subjects was below 70 marks. He would get one hit for every mark short of 70. But she would spare the cane if she thought the questions were too difficult, and would also reward him for doing well.

Police inspector Lynn Ong said that when the principal arrived at the scene, the mother was “very emotionally unstable”, and was heard lamenting in Mandarin, “I only asked for 70 marks, I don’t expect you to get 80 marks.”

The Primary 5 boy found out a few days before the incident that he had, for the first time, failed two papers (mathematics and Higher Chinese) in his mid-year examinations. He was due to collect his exam results that day for his parents to acknowledge when the incident happened. He scored 12 marks for Higher Chinese and 20.5 for mathematics. He had also scored below 70 marks for the other subjects.

The school principal described the boy as an average performer who was generally able to cope with school-life. She further explained that it was normal for Primary 5 students to see a dip in their exam results because there would be changes to the exam format at that level to prepare students for the Primary School Leaving Examinations.

The Coroner will deliver his findings today.