The Ministry of Education (MOE) and Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung faced a huge backlash after Serene Eng-Yeo, a PSLE-taking student’s mother and adjunct lecturer at a local university 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.
The exams have certainly ended, but the issue has not, because another mother, Tjin Lee wrote in to the Ministry of Education as well.
Tjin Lee, an entrepreneur, seems to have slightly younger children, nevertheless, her message was still the same as that of Eng-Yeo’s. In an Instagram post, Lee wrote, “Yes, there are some Math questions I couldn’t answer in that PSLE paper. I’m not saying they weren’t difficult, or that I wish the curriculum wasn’t less demanding. What I’m saying is, we shouldn’t panic, our children are drawing on our fear and stress”.
“Perhaps it’s time we’re kinder to them, and to ourselves. Reassure them, it’s “only an exam”, it does not define you. The exam won’t define your child, but your reaction and response to the grades, just might”, she wrote.
Her sentiments were similar to that of Eng-Yeo’s, who, in her open letter to Minister Ong expressed, “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”.
Lee also explained her point of view, “I’m not saying he (my son) doesn’t need an education, but we could relook the pressure on exams. … How do we know which skills will be in demand in 15 years time? We don’t. That’s why we should educate our kids to love learning, and to be lifelong learners, so they can be ready to adapt, evolve and be ready for anything life throws at them. Kids should love learning, not dread exams”.
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Lee’s post was shared on social media as well, and it garnered support from many other parents.
TISG has reached out to Tjin Lee for comment and clarification on her post.
Read related: Student’s mother writes in to question the Education minister on why the PSLE has to be so difficult