In an open letter to Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, a mother of a Primary 6 student wrote in questioning why the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) papers were so difficult, to the extent that her son and many other twelve-year olds felt demoralized.
In her letter, 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”.
Explaining that her son’s abilities were only average for the subject of Mathematics, she wrote, “You and I can never understand the shoes of these courageous kids who have spent their entire upper pri education practising and learning for this 1 off high stakes exam. It is unfortunate… everything they work for boils down to these” do or die” 4 days. As Singaporean parents, do we want out? YES! But do we have a choice , NO!”
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?”
Eng-Yeo also shared that in comparison, she felt that the school’s preliminary examinations were “humane”, and that they adequately prepared her son for his PSLE examinations.
“The paper was reasonably set and gave hope and encouragement to the kids. My son came home smiling after Prelims telling me that for the first time, he felt empowered and encouraged that he could do the paper. If the school had an inkling that this year’s PSLE would be so crazy tough, they would have matched it in terms of comparability. No doubt about it” she wrote.
Her full letter:
According to those who commented on her post, many others had also questioned the disparity in terms of difficulty between this year’s exam papers and those of previous years.
Along with her open letter, she also shared screenshots of some questions from the Mathematics exam paper being shared amongst parents and students.
In speaking to TISG, Serene shared that her son said the paper was “super hard” and that he was unable to do just about “every question in paper 2”. When she verified this with her child’s friends as well as others who told her that their own teacher-friends said so, the same sentiment was shared.
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?”
Some of her fears, as well as those of other parents were that their children’s fears were compounded following such a difficult examination, demoralising them and scarring them for future examinations to come.
TISG has reached out to Minister Ong Ye Kung for comment and clarification on the matter. -/TISG
Update: As of September 30, Serene Eng-Yeo has taken down her Facebook post.