Sunday, January 13, 2013

Kudos for A-listers but in low-key mode

By Stacey Chia and Sandra Davie

The Straits Times
Sunday, Jan 13, 2013

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Education (MOE) last Thursday kept to its new approach of not singling out the nation's top scorers when the O-level results were announced.

But that did not stop some schools from revealing their A-listers - albeit in a more low-key manner.

At Nan Hua High School, Jaryl Boey, who scored nine A1s, was singled out when the results were announced.

But the school took pains to highlight the 16-year-old's co-curricular record, leadership potential and community work.

Xinmin Secondary flashed slides complete with the names, results and photos of two top students - Serena Mok Jia Xin and Chinese national Zhang Heng Chao - who scored nine A1s.

The principal also invited 38 other students with six or more distinctions up on stage.

Some schools took a more subtle approach.

CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School, which produced two of the nation's three top scorers last year, did not announce the results of its top students this year.

But it was not hard guessing who aced the exams.

Lee Kai Yi and Malaysian Liew Jia Hui - both scored nine A1s - went on stage to receive academic achievement awards given to students with the best O-level results.

MOE had announced that it will no longer name the top scorers of national examinations here, starting with the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) in November last year.

The move was intended to balance out the "over-emphasis on academic results".

It led to an information blackout when the PSLE results were announced.

In line with its new approach, its press release last Thursday on the O-level results stated only the overall performance of the cohort.

MOE said of the class of 2012, 81.3 per cent scored at least five passes - close to the 81.9 per cent seen in 2011.

A total of 37,259 students sat the O levels last year

Previously, the ministry, in its release, would name nearly a dozen top students. It would also list schools that had at least one student scoring seven A1s or more.

Principals who named the top scorers defended their move, saying that most of them are all-rounders and are good role models for the younger ones.

Said Xinmin Secondary principal Ong Hong Peng: "This helps us to recognise the efforts of the students and to motivate students of the current graduating levels."

Still, a few other schools visited by The Straits Times toed the ministry's line all the way.

At Crescent Girls' School, principal Tan Chen Kee revealed only the names of 38 students who scored seven or more A1s and the Edusave Character Award recipients.

She said: "I did not want all the attention to go to the top scorer - we should celebrate the achievements of the whole cohort."

However, parent Felicia Tan, 40, felt schools could be less uptight about naming the O-level top scorers.

Said the accountant, who has a daughter in Secondary 3 at Crescent Girls': "Maybe for the PSLE, it is understandable as the students are much younger. But why with the older students at O levels and A levels?"

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