primary school leaving examination again

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Education announced that it will stop releasing information on top performers in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and all national examinations, presumably in an attempt to reduce academic pressures on students.

Then the PSLE results were released yesterday. Media reports were somewhat muted, at least in the Straits Times (which carried a couple of reports on students who have done well both in academics and co-curricular activities today).

Personally, I have no idea whether this is a step in a right direction. However, I question the wisdom of this decision.

Firstly, whether or not top scorers are publicized, the fact is that there will always be many people (much) better (or even (much) worse!) than you. That’s life. Students should learn this fact early and get over it as soon as possible.

Next, I have to admit that I love reading the stories about the top scorers. I want to know how they did it. Even better if they had to conquer adversities to achieve top scores. (Everyone loves an underdog!) Their stories  can definitely provide inspiration to many.

Then, primary school education is but a short phase in life. Of course getting a top score in the PSLE does not mean you are set for life. Neither does getting a top score at O Levels, getting a top score at A Levels, nor getting top honours of university assure that as well. But at that moment, you are the best of the best and that is not something to be sniffed at. And if we can celebrate artistic or sporting achievement, why can’t we also celebrate academic achievement?

Lastly, I find it ridiculous that the powers that be think they can solve a problem by withholding information. Nonetheless, the PSLE result slips given to all candidates revealed that the top PSLE score this year is 285, and the good folks at the KiasuParents online forum have already worked out that the top scorer is a Singaporean Chinese boy from Nanyang Primary. Congratulations, my dear!

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