SINGAPORE: In Parliament last month, Workers’ Party MP Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) brought up a “Flexible Through-Train Program for Schools,” designed to help students who find tests stressful and learn at a pace that’s suitable for them. It lets parents allow their children to bypass the PSLE, making their first major examination at Secondary 4 instead of at age 12.
In his response on Mar 1, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that while the ministry is not against the idea, there are substantial challenges to its implementation.
On Mar 10, Assoc Prof Lim posted a video of Mr Chan’s response on his Facebook page, writing that people can decide for themselves whether the objections raised by the Education Minister are “convincing.”
“In response to the #workersparty proposal for the Ministry of Education to consider an optional through-train program from primary through secondary schools, Minister Chan raised a number of potential concerns with the idea.
I’ll let folks decide for themselves if they find these objections convincing.
I would only add two additional thoughts: nothing he said precludes a trial, with a less ‘popular’ school, to see if the issues he raises are really dealbreakers for parents; and a high-stakes exam administered at the still-tender age of 12 (the PSLE) is actually quite an anomaly, worldwide. #makingyourvotecount“
The Sengkang GRC MP, an Associate Professor of Economics, wrote on Mar 8 that “Some kids progress rapidly and assertively, but while others may take longer to get there, they could well be late bloomers that find their stride later on.
He characterized the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) as a high-stakes test that “could instil in a 12-year-old that sense of make-or-break at a tender age” and asked if this is justified.
“Is it a building block that can imbue an early sense of accomplishment and independence, or is it more a stumbling block for their self-confidence?” he continued.
The through-train route that WP proposed, conversely, would allow families the option of greater flexibility for their children, some of whom may suffer from testing anxiety.
He is not the only one who has raised the idea of such a program in Parliament.
PAP MP Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) also asked for the Ministry of Education to study the potential of such through-train programs, as well as other alternative models.
As for Progress Singapore Party Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa, she has urged for the PSLE to be removed, in order to lessen the amount of stress faced by students. /TISG
In Parliament: Jamus Lim tackles testing anxiety; proposes alternate ‘through-train’ programme allowing for bypass of PSLE
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