Obsession over PSLE 2012 top scorer
Speculation has been rife over who the identity of the top scorer for PSLE 2012 is. This obsession underlies a fundamental problem in the Singapore society and its education system. It has been speculated that Nanyang Primary School has produced this year's top scorer and we have spoken to the Vice Principal of Nanyang Primary to find out his thoughts on the matter.
With the release of the PSLE 2012 results yesterday at 12 noon, speculation has been rife about which school yielded the top student with the aggregate score of 285. Although MOE has refused to disclose the identity of the top student, this move seems to have only served to spur interest in identifying the student and the school. Different sources have singled out several schools which have allegedly produced the top scoring student.
TODAY online reported that Nanyang Primary School had a student who obtained a score of 285 this year while online platforms ranging from forums to social networking websites have identified schools such as South View Primary School as having produced the student with the score of 285.
Reactions to the decision by the MOE to not announce the names of the top PSLE students have also been mixed. According to an article by TODAY journalist Eric Ng, he disapproved of the decision by MOE arguing that such a decision would erode the level of competition in Singapore causing Singaporeans to become less likely to succeed. Another quote by an article from TODAY, others such as sociologist Tan Ern Ser approved of MOE decision as the move signifies beneficial changes that are coming to Singapore.
The main issue here is however, the nationwide obsession over academic achievement with regards to PSLE. While the PSLE exam is an important milestone in one’s educational journey, it should not be viewed as an exam that determines one’s future. The educational pathway for an individual is long and the PSLE exam is merely one of the first of many exams that people have to sit for as they progress through Singapore’s education system.
While academic achievement is no doubt important in today’s society, it should not be viewed as the sole indicator of one’s abilities. Education should not just be focused on the academic aspect but equal attention should also be paid to the other dimensions of education such as character development. In our interview with the Vice-Principal of Nanyang Primary School, Steven Wong says “As the ministry has already said, it is not the one and only exam in life. We are always trying to impart the importance of lifelong learning to the student. The intent of primary education is to help them acquire the values and skills necessary to cope with learning in the 21st century, so they shouldn’t be too stressed about the PSLE.”
There needs to be a greater emphasis on the other aspects of Singapore’s education system such as character development and the nurturing of one’s other talents. As quoted from our interview with the Vice Principal of Nanyang Primary School, he has this to say, “Our focus is always on holistic and all-rounded development of students which involve character development and other aspects. PSLE is just one of the indicators. I think academic excellence is something that allows us to progress but we should have equal emphasis on character development.”
The decision by the MOE to keep the identity of the PSLE 2012 top scorer confidential seems to have only garnered more interest in finding out his or her identity. MOE needs to tackle the fundamental flaw in the education system, which is the emphasis placed on academic results where other aspects of education such as CCAs play second fiddle.
Don’t stress it; try harder the next time around
For parents and students who are disappointed with their PSLE scores, they should not be overly affected by their results. The Vice Principal of Nanyang Primary School offers invaluable advice on what students who did not do well for the PSLE exam can do. He says “In Singapore, we have different schools which cater to the different needs of the student and if parents choose one which meets the needs of their children, they will find more satisfaction and fulfillment. Like what we said earlier, PSLE is a placement test; there are always other opportunities for children to blossom in their secondary schools. Since PSLE is over, we should help them focus on the next stage of learning”.
Parents and students alike should not be overly concerned about getting into a ‘branded’ school as all schools have their individual strengths. Steven Wong agrees saying that “There are always students who overcame adversity, perhaps from lesser-known schools, to achieve very good results. We should avoid the mindset that children must to go to a particular school in order to do well.”