Sunday, January 1, 2012

MM Lee acknowledges admission to primary school is unfair

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has acknowledged that primary school admission is 'not meritocratic', but is 'inevitable in any society.'

He was speaking to reporters after a visit to Raffles Girls' Primary School (RGPS).

'At the primary stage, the choice is not made in a uniform way. You have a brother there or sister there, your father or mother is an alumnus, and so on,' he said.

'So it's not meritocratic; it's based on the social class of your parents, whether they went into better schools.'

In the primary 1 registration, priority is given to children with a sibling studying in their school of choice, or whose parents are former pupils of that school.

Next in line are those children whose parents are volunteers at the school, or who live near the school of choice.

But he argued that the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) levels the playing field, allowing disadvantaged students to attend good schools, reported the Straits Times.

'The important thing is that, at Primary 6, there should be a sorting out. And those who missed going to the good schools should get into better secondary schools.

'That's what we're aiming to do: Regardless of who your father or mother was or is, we go by your performance,' he told reporters.

He had visited a neighbourhood school, Punggol Primary School, the previous day, but said he had found 'no difference' in the quality of facilities in both schools.

'The difference really is in the quality of the students, their background,' he said.

MM Lee also sat in on a Primary 1 Chinese class, where he asked pupils what language they spoke at home.

Reflecting on the two students' answers where they said they spoke mostly English at home, MM Lee said that ideally, the curriculum time for students at the primary school level should be 70 per cent for English and 30 per cent for mother tongue.

'You must master one language well, through which you absorb knowledge, you read, you write, you listen,' he said. 'You cannot be equally good at both languages, not possible.'

Mr Lee said he will be visiting two schools next - a neighbourhood school and a popular school.

Edvantage | Sun Nov 14 2010

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