Following an open letter to Education Minister Ong Ye Kung from a mother of a Primary 6 student, many other parents wrote in agreeing and asking why the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) papers were so difficult as well.
In her letter, she said that after the paper, her son and many other twelve-year olds felt demoralised.
She shared, “The 2019 Math PSLE Exam held last Friday was so harrowing and so devastating that our 11 and 12 year olds came out of it defeated, crushed and utterly demoralized”.
Serene Eng-Yeo, the child’s mother and adjunct lecturer at a local university, also said that after the exam, her son came out crushed and defeated, telling her that he was dumbfounded by every question in the Examination Paper 2. “And I know that he is not the only p6 kid who felt this way”, she wrote.
“What is the point of making the paper so tough? Can MOE explain the rationale behind this?” she questioned.
The point of her letter seemed not to be the difficulty of the questions, as she agreed that questions of different levels were definitely necessary to assess students’ thinking abilities. Her issue was more on why Paper 2 of the examination was set in a standard much higher than that of the school’s Preliminary examination, and almost all of the paper 2 questions were too difficult for her son and his peers.
In comparing the standard of her son’s prelim examination and mid-year exam papers, she said, “Are you telling me the school doesn’t understand the standard for PSLE and sets one of a very different standard? If the school itself feels the (PSLE) paper is reasonable would they not tell the parents?”
Many other parents agreed with Eng-yeo and added that increasing the difficulty of questions created a tuition-culture and more pressure on students.