Sunday, January 13, 2013

Schools refrain from naming top O-Level scorers

Today On-line
by Ng Jing Yng

SINGAPORE - In line with the Ministry of Education's (MOE) call to provide students with a well rounded education, schools yesterday struck a balance between lauding their top O-Level scorers and highlighting those who exhibited strong character traits.

Across schools which TODAY visited, school principals took pains to share heartwarming stories of students who beat the odds and avoided singling out top pupils.

At Saint Joseph's Institution, for example, Principal Koh Thiam Seng praised 85 boys who scored at least six A1s, instead of naming his school's top pupil.

Chung Cheng High School (Main) highlighted students from every class and lauded three pupils who were leaders in both their CCAs and academics.

Principal Pang Choon How said: "By celebrating as a cohort, I hope this will inspire students that results are not everything and an education is also meant (to) help students learn more about themselves."

Likewise at CHIJ Saint Nicholas Girls' School, Principal Tan Wai Lan made it a point to commend three classes which had improved the most from their preliminary examination results.

The GCE O-Levels is the second national examination after the MOE announced that it would no longer name top scorers publicly. The first to follow the move was the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), which saw parents questioning if it was fair to the top scorers.

In a media release yesterday, the MOE steered clear of naming top pupils by race and schools which produced the perfect six-pointer students.

The ministry only shared that 81.3 per cent of 37,267 candidates who sat for last year's GCE O-Levels scored five or more passes, while 95.5 per cent of candidates scored three or more passes. Close to 100 per cent (99.8) had passed at least one O-Level subject.

The impact of omitting names of top O-Level scorers seemed to be less apparent as compared to the PSLE. Discussion on Internet forums centred on personal results, rather than schools' performances. Parents interviewed were divided on the decision not to name the top student.

"By naming the top scorers, it will not only motivate other students, but also credit those who have worked hard for these achievements," said parent Yinly Ng.

Another parent, Mr Victor Lee, felt that not naming top scorers reduces stress among students.

"After all, grades do not matter as much as character," he added.

With additional reporting from Louisa Tang, Desiree Tay and Heng Wei Xiang

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