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Non-Disclosure of PSLE Results

The push for the non-disclosure of Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results; when we first heard the news, we were apprehensive of, first, its feasibility – its ability to achieve what the parties pushing for this want: limiting the focus on academic achievements in the Singapore schools. Then, its effectiveness in changing Singaporeans’ long-cultivated emphasis in doing well academically.

Let us be honest here for a minute: in this sunny island where meritocracy reigns, it seems as though the sun will only shine for those who are able to distinguish themselves academically. Opponents might then disagree, pointing out that in the past years the relevant governing bodies have tried to shift the attention away from academic achievements and are placing increased focus on non-academic achievements. While that is true, the eventual situation we see on the rise is that many schools, teachers, parents and students, are burdened with an additional onus, and that is to excel in all the possible recognized areas as well! On top of achieving decent grades in school!

To prove our point further, we see that relevant bodies, in trying to recognize one’s achievements, have established a system to quantify one’s results, achievements and contributions. (Most recent case in point: quantifying one’s growth or demonstration in character development in the form of monetary cash rewards. Again, how far do these monetary awards go in tangibly helping those students in question, is another question in itself). In doing so, they have limited

The Shining Future for Each Child: A Review of the Non-Disclosure of PSLE Results

The Shining Future for Each Child: A Review of the Non-Disclosure of PSLE Results

their ability to recognize students with, for example, leadership qualities to those whose contributions have been translated into tangible CCA points, verified by extremely stretched teachers who are somehow blessed with the ability to identify the strengths of every child with their supersonic brains and eyes, and the school. In the same way, one’s compassion for the community is also quantified in terms of the hours put into voluntary work where it has to be verified by the teachers and the school will translate their contribution into the form of Community Involvement Program [CIP] points. (Again, we are assuming that somehow teachers have the ability to see through the students’ hearts and know that they are indeed, passionate about helping those in need, and are not volunteering for the sake of those tangible rewards.)

Given the predicate of this “policy”, it really does not take a rocket-scientist to recognize the roots of our apprehensiveness, which we believe, is shared by many other concerned members of the society. One of the parents TODAY’s reporters spoke to on the day of the PSLE results release last November, revealed her sentiments, that “the scores act like a yardstick and having a No. 1 is inevitable in our meritocratic system.” Also, another parent likened this to someone being awarded the President Scholar’s award and yet, is denied the recognition. While some choose to stay optimistic of how far-reaching the effects of this move can be, we believe that this move remains as, and will only be a symbolic gesture of the greater ideal both the people and the governing body is working towards. In light of our nation’s productivity goals, and our obvious reliance on the quality of the already-limited manpower in Singapore, there is without a doubt that from now till the near future, meritocracy is here to stay. If that is the case, the root source of stress of the many local parents and students (not forgetting the teachers and schools), will always be the need to match up to the performance of other high-achievers.

Perhaps, in the eyes and minds of optimists, this is a small step towards achieving the all-elusive greater ideal in the far future. However, bearing the current constraints shackling the nation in mind, this small step does not take us as far as we hope it does. Any astute mind will be fast to point out that by not disclosing the identities of the top performers of PSLE, it does not protect the rest of the students from knowing the highest score achieved during that year’s exams. The score will still be printed on their result slips and comparison will still take place, just that now, there is no face to that score.

Digging deeper, one might also find that this symbol to be a half-hearted attempt made by the government, since the non-disclosure of results is only applicable to students taking the PSLE, not for student pursuing higher education such as the O-Level takers, or the A-Level takers. Besides, Singaporeans, living up to their “kiasu-ness” will still find ways to find out those scores and as long as the mindset of most students and parents do not change, the focus will still not shift.

Given the above consideration, it seems like what’s left for us stakeholders to do is to bite the bullet and continue with our “tradition”, with little or no changes.

To end off this post arguably filled with angst and discontent, perhaps, just perhaps, in the distant future, there will indeed be a shiny place for every child, despite their abilities to shine in the publicly recognized arenas, on this sunny island.

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