Monday, October 01, 2012

In favour of PSLE

There are increasing calls to remove the PSLE from our national school system, because it is causing too much stress to our children (and parents).

Many complain that our education scene is no longer a level playing field for all children because rich parents can afford more resources and tuition for their children. But would removing the PSLE change that? If anything, I have always thought that the exam hall is the place where, stripped of all external help, each child gets a fair shot at doing his very best. 

If there isn't such objective yardstick anymore, we would have to rely on other measures that could require far more resources, such as cultivating niche skills, or elaborate project work (which parents won't be able to resist helping in). 

Some mentioned the possibility of a through-train system from primary to secondary school so that children do not have to take an exam so early. Wouldn't that mean even greater stress at the annual P1 registration? Imagine if one registration determines the child's experience for the next ten years! At least our present system allows children again, a fair shot, at getting into their preferred secondary school, where admission cannot be influenced by their parents' volunteer work or other such advantages. 

I come to realise that the stress does not come from external factors in the system but inherently from parents' keen desire for the best for their children. Come on, as long as resources are finite, one always wants a headstart over others and be in a position of strength. Isn't this the true source of anxiety? 

While we shouldn't be afraid to reexamine sacred cows and slay them if necessary, we cannot become trigger happy! These are features in our educational system that served us so well for so long, for good reasons. Remember that once Humpty Dumpty has a great fall, all the King's horses and all the King's men cannot put him together again. 

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