Monday, December 10, 2012

Reducing stress not sole reason for not revealing top scorers: Minister

Edvantage | Thu Nov 22 2012

SINGAPORE - The move by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to stop releasing the identities of top PSLE scorers is not simply to reduce stress, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat in a post on Facebook this morning.

The results of the 2012 Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be released today at noon.

 MOE announced two days ago that it would no longer announce the top scorers of each batch of pupils taking the national exam. In previous years, the names and schools of the top scorers were released to the media.

A ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday that the move will balance the over-emphasis on academic results.

 Mr Heng further clarified the ministry's stance today, saying that the change is "not to address stress per se or to move away from merit". He pointed out that it is "not possible, nor desirable, to eliminate stress completely."

However, he said that it is "not healthy to have such national focus at this stage of the journey." Instead, we should encourage children to "have a love for learning, and to be life-long learners".

The minister noted the importance of the PSLE examinations, but stressed that it is "not the be-all-and-end-all" of a person's education. He urged parents to let their children grow at their own pace and to focus on cultivating values such as resilience, confidence, inventiveness and creativity.

 Education is "a marathon, not a sprint", he said.

 Mr Heng's full post is as follows:

"Several people have asked if MOE stopped releasing top PSLE scorers to reduce stress or to de-emphasise academic achievements. Well, the change is not to address stress per se or to move away from merit. It is not possible, nor desirable, to eliminate stress completely. Nor should we be shy about achievements. There are broader considerations.

"I believe in the pursuit of excellence - in all areas of endeavour. We must encourage our students to apply themselves and to persevere, so that they can reach their full potential in their chosen fields. When they put in the effort, we should cheer them on. When they succeed, we should recognise and celebrate their success.

"We now have more avenues to recognise success - the Edusave Scholarships and Edusave Merit Bursary for academic achievements, the expanded EAGLES award for CCA, leadership and community service, and Edusave Character Awards for exemplary character. Schools too provide various forms of recognition. There are many sporting events, academic Olympiads and competitions in different fields, all of which are platforms to promote excellence.

 "In education, it is useful to bear in mind two key points - our children need to develop at their own pace; and they need to develop as a whole person. Pulling up the shoot to accelerate its growth or distorting growth in particular areas at the expense of holistic development will set the children back. This is why we are putting the emphasis on a 'student-centric, values-driven' education.

"PSLE is an important exam - but it is not the be-all-and-end-all. It marks the conclusion of one stage of the learning journey - and the road ahead is a long one. As adults, all of us will have to learn continually throughout our lives. It is not healthy to have such national focus at this stage of the journey. Rather, we should encourage them to persevere, to pursue learning along appropriate pathways, and help them succeed in the next phase. What matters is that our children grow up to have a love for learning, and to be life-long learners. It is a marathon, not a sprint.

"I hope that whatever the results of your children, parents will support and encourage your children in their next phase of learning and growth. Our children will be more likely to succeed if they grow up to be confident and resilient, able to bounce back from setbacks; and be inventive and adventurous, able and willing to try and create new things. Let us celebrate their effort, continue to encourage excellence, and broaden our definitions of success."

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