Primary School Leaving Examinations
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Recently, there had been much debate on whether the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) should be abolished. This topic was also highlighted at the recent Polytechnic Forum attended by Senior Minister of State for Education, Mr Lawrence Wong. The strong interest in this topic has led to an open discussion for students to contribute ideas to solutions. FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS
There are a lot of opinions on whether PSLE should be abolished. Below are the different types of response and view on this particular topic.
IN FAVOUR OF ABOLISHING PSLE
Mr Hri Kumar, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, is all for slaying the PSLE scared cow. He thinks that “the government should think about loosening its grip on education so that Singaporeans can choose for themselves what they want for their own children”. * Hri Kumar. (2012, September 17). MP echoes calls for PSLE to be scrapped. Channel News Asia. Associate Professor Straughan, a former Nominated Member of Parliament, felt that PSLE should be abolished. He mentioned that “If we get rid of PSLE, we free the school from this obsession of testing, and the teachers and educators can focus on teaching and learning, and if we do that, more young couples would be willing to grow larger families.” * Professor Straughan, (2012, May 4). Ease the pressure of parenting. TODAY. NOT IN FAVOUR OF ABOLISHING PSLE
According to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, he thinks that PSLE stays but needs relook. 1) He stressed that “the national exam is still needed to assess pupils’ educational standards and provide a fair basis on which secondary schools decide their admissions.” * Prime Minister Lee, H.L. (2012, September 27). PSLE stays but needs relook. The Straits Times. 2) He rejects the call for the PSLE to be scrapped as he mentioned, “The exam was still needed to evaluate whether pupils were reaching required levels. And alternative methods of allocating secondary school places, such as based on where students lived, would not be fair to all.” * Prime Minister Lee, H.L. (2012, September 27). PSLE stays but needs relook. The Straits Times.
Ms Tan Jing Yi proposed that she was mortified by calls to abolish the PSLE to “minimize competition and stress”. She says that “removing the PSLE allows pupils to focus on their non-academic interests is a weak excuse. After all, one reason the PSLE exists is to train pupils to manage their time well, and this prepares them for higher education, where balance between work and play is vital.” * Tan, J.Y. (2012, September 21). …No, keep it. The Straits Times. Other observers and educators TODAY spoke to were divided on whether the PSLE should stay. 1) Mrs Jenny Yeo, Principal of Southview Primary School, noted that the exam is “some form of assessment” to pit the educational standards of children here against their peers in other countries. She added that, in general, the situation here should not become one where children are “very relaxed about learning” and “just play all the way to Primary 6”. * Yeo,J. (2012, September 17). MP echoes calls for PSLE to be scrapped. Channel News Asia.
CONCLUSIONS ON HOW CONCERNS CAN BE ADDRESSED OR RESOLVED
Many people have addressed their opinions on how to resolve the debate on whether PSLE should be abolished. Firstly, instead of using PSLE result to determine the students’ future, the format could be tweaked. For example, 35 per cent of the PSLE could be weighted to regular national assessments at Primary 5 and Primary 6. Non-academic aspects could also be assessed as part of the PSLE score. For example, marks for participation could be given for activities related to national education or community service. Secondly, we can have more “through-train” schools, where students gain entry to affiliated secondary schools without a common exam. PSLE will be for those who wish to compete for a place in the “better” secondary school.
However, there will be no MOE funding and therefore higher fees where this option may not be available to all. Thirdly, assessments could be conducted covering not only academic subjects but also sports, music, drama, National Education, social studies, home economics, technology and so on, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of students while providing a well-rounded education. * Theresa Tan, L.L. (2012, September 20). Regular assessment instead of PSLE. TODAY. Lastly, it is to do away with the T-score. Some parents had suggested giving a child’s involvement in co-curricular activities some weightage. * Davie, S. (2012, September 30). Redistributing the stakes placed on PSLE. The Straits Times. BENEFITS
Considering the above response on how to resolve concerns for whether to abolish PSLE, it could be a win-win situation. By tweaking the format of PSLE to put a certain percentage on regular National assessment, it would enhance consistency in students’ work. Not only that. If non-academic subjects are also taken into account, it would develop students into positive-thinking and self-motivated learners for life. Most importantly, it could reduce students’ stress and encourage all-round development of a child. All in all, it is not necessary to abolish PSLE if the needed actions are taken.
* Hri Kumar. (2012, September 17). MP echoes calls for PSLE to be scrapped. Channel News Asia. * Professor Straughan, (2012, May 4). Ease the pressure of parenting. TODAY. * Prime Minister Lee, H.L. (2012, September 27). PSLE stays but needs relook. The Straits Times. * Prime Minister Lee, H.L. (2012, September 27). PSLE stays but needs relook. The Straits Times. * Tan, J.Y. (2012, September 21). …No, keep it. The Straits Times. * Yeo,J. (2012, September 17). MP echoes calls for PSLE to be scrapped. Channel News Asia. * Theresa Tan, L.L. (2012, September 20). Regular assessment instead of PSLE. TODAY. * Davie, S. (2012, September 30). Redistributing the stakes placed on PSLE. The Straits Times. * PSLE. (2012). 299×219. PSLE. Retrieved November 16, 2012 from theonlinecitizen.com * CSJ_PSLE. (1990, December 14).800×451. Let Young Develop Fully Before Streaming. Retrieved November 16, 2012, from yoursdp.org * PSLE. (2012).576×384.thewalkupstairs.Retrieved November 16, 2012, from matharena.wordpress.com