primary school leaving examination once more

Thank you, Mr Warren Fernandez!

In its effort to avoid the kind of stress-inducing comparisons that are often made among schools, the Education Ministry decided, rather too abruptly and without enough preparing of the ground, to impose a news blackout on the top pupils in this year’s PSLE.

Its intentions might have been good but the outcome was a bit of a farce. When school principals start telling 12-year-olds that their exam scores are a secret and a schoolboy declares he cannot disclose how he did because “the minister says cannot say”, you sense that something has gone quite wrong. Even tuition centres, which used to trumpet how they helped improve students’ performances, have grown coy for fear of incurring the wrath of the good folks in Buona Vista.

Clearly, as a society, we have gone overboard with this frenzy over exam scores.

Making these results something to be whispered about – or hunted down on the Internet – only reinforces in many people’s minds how seriously this is to be taken. In my view, anxiety and ignorance are never helped by a blanket of darkness. Far better to shed more light.

excerpted from PSLE not a good guide to success in life’s race, The Straits Times, 2 December 2012, page 47

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