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MOE and SMRT face public backlash after massive train service breakdown causes students to be late for PSLE

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A second consecutive train breakdown in the last two days due to new signalling system faults has upset many commuters and worse still, delayed and distressed young students on the way to take the most crucial examination of their lives at this stage: the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Primary 6 students who were due to take their Mother Tongue oral examinations today were held up in trains due to faults on the North-South Line and Downtown Line. The interminable train faults caused such a long delay that one commuter who was just travelling between Yishun and Bishan (just 4 stops which would’ve taken 15-20 travel time) got on board the train at 6.30am and only alighted nearly two hours later at 8.25am.

Students were seen lining up at long queues in front of passenger service centers even after alighting, to get excuse slips explaining their tardiness from SMRT staff.

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This drew the ire of netizens who questioned why students need to be waylaid yet again for a pointless excuse chit when the breakdown is all over the news:

The Ministry of Education (MOE) later responded that students need not wait to get an excuse chit and that examinations may be postponed for students delayed by the breakdown, if necessary:

“To all P6 students taking the oral exam today: If you’ve been delayed on the way to school this morning, please don’t worry. The PSLE oral exam is on schedule but arrangements will be made for those who arrive late. You need not pick up any excuse letter at the MRT station. Just let your school know. If necessary, you will be able to take the exam at a later time.”

Concerned netizens opined that more could have been done earlier to assuage the worries of distressed students. For example, MOE could have worked with LTA or SMRT to use SMRT staff to direct students to their schools instead of having them wait for an excuse letter:

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