Singapore—The Chief Executive of Temasek Holdings and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Ho Ching, has commented an issue that has been in the news lately, about a young girl whose original Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results slip had been withheld due to the fact that she had unpaid school fees.
Attention had been drawn to this because of a Facebook post from activist Gilbert Goh on Monday, November 25. Mr Goh had written that the child only received a copy of her PSLE results slip, and not the original, as her parents had school arrears worth S$156.
Felt really upset when someone told me that her daughter could not get hold of her PSLE report card as the student owns…
This year’s PSLE results had been released the previous Tuesday, November 19.
In its defense, the country’s Ministry of Education (MOE) said that withholding exam results slips over unpaid school fees is a “long-standing practice,” and that students who receive only copies of their PSLE results may still make progress and go on to the secondary level.
The Ministry said, “MOE’s consideration stems from the underlying principle that notwithstanding the fact that the cost of education is almost entirely publicly funded, we should still play our part in paying a small fee, and it is not right to ignore that obligation, however small it is. We hope parents support us in reinforcing this message.”
Mr Goh’s post had been widely shared, with many Singaporeans urging MOE to discontinue this “long-standing practice” as it ends up penalizing the child and their family for experiencing financial constraints.
And now, it seems that Madam Ho Ching has put her two cents in as well.
The Facebook page “Fabrications about the PAP” posted screenshots of Mdm Ho’s response to the issue, beginning with her statement, “I think on this issue differently.”
Mdm Ho Ching comment on MOE withholding the original PSLE certificate:
Mdm Ho asserted that the child had worked hard for her PSLE, and therefore deserved to be given the certificate.
She wrote, “Go after the parents by all means for their debt, but why inflict this on the child.”
She then went on to acknowledge that at times, families can get overwhelmed with troubles, and it’s possible that they don’ even remember their children’s miscellaneous fees.
The solution, Mdm Ho wrote, in schools finding “creative” solutions to address the issue, and as a result, will create a “rugged society as well.”
“One way,” she wrote, “is to create simple part-time volunteer duties with allowances—it can create volunteer roles for library work, traffic crossing assistance for even younger kids, tutoring younger buddies, PE assistants, manning the bookstore, and such like, so that kids can volunteer and earn an allowance for themselves.”
Thus, the students would be able to pay for their school miscellaneous fees.
Mdm Ho also encouraged teachers to check in on the students whose families may be having a hard time financially, by visiting them or bringing in social workers to help, saying that she knew many such teachers who went “the extra mile” to do this.
Netizens commenting on the post readily agreed with Mdm Ho.