Thursday, January 27, 2011

More parents of students in brand name schools are grads: MM

That is the main difference when comparing against students from neighbourhood schools.

THE difference in the nature of students is what divides those in "brand name" schools from those from neighbourhood schools.

Following visits to several schools, including top ones and neighbourhood schools, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew found that teachers on the whole were competent and facilities were adequate. He had done this in order to "have a sense of quality of the schools, the nature of the students, to see whether we are being fair to everybody".

He concluded that the "brand name" schools charged higher fees, and better teachers gravitate to them because of their higher status. He said: "But in the neighbourhood schools, they are just as competent."

Speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon after a visit to Dunman High School, Mr Lee revealed that he had asked for statistics on the educational background of parents of students from a range of schools.

He said that a marked difference in the educational background of parents divided the students of "brand name" schools from those in neighbourhood ones.

The statistics revealed that the percentage of students whose fathers are university- educated stayed above the 50 per cent mark in top schools such as Raffles Institution, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Hwa Chong Institution.

From the data on the four neighbourhood schools, Chai Chee Secondary School recorded the highest percentage of 13.1 per cent.

"And that is the situation which we face: to get the lesser-educated parents to understand that at an early stage, they must try and get their children accustomed to go into the library, (get them) reading and trying to get used to acquiring knowledge by themselves," said Mr Lee.

He also stressed on the important role of family background in a student's development in bilingualism.

Mr Lee said: "It is important that we're an English-language working society. But at the same time, we want to keep as much of a higher level of mother tongue as possible."

Mr Lee said he decided to visit the Special Assistance Plan school - which offers a Bilingual Programme that teaches the basics of translation between Chinese and English - to see if it could help its students cultivate equal mastery of the two languages.

Read also:
» MM Lee gets rock star treatment at Dunman High
During the visit, Mr Lee met students and asked them what languages they spoke at home.

After sitting in on a Chinese Studies class, he found most of the students to be more fluent in English.

"That is inevitable," he said. "If your Mandarin is better than your English, then you may be disadvantaged in Singapore.

"I emphasise English because I want the non-Chinese Singaporean parents to understand that their children are not losing out when we say improve standards in Chinese.

"We're still an English-speaking working society. So when I hold a meeting like this, I speak English."

my paper | Tue Jan 25 2011

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