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22nd August, 2013
The Straits Times
Re: "PARENTS' mndset key to education change: Heng"
I refer to the report by your esteemed journalists, Janice Heng and Andrea Ong, in The Straits Times this morning (Page A6) entitled "Parents' mindset key to education change: Heng" as per the government feedback Reach held last night arising from the National Day Rally (NDR) by PM Lee last Sunday evening.
2 Whilst it is so convenient to simply dismiss parents' mindset as the problem, it behoves me to ask the Minister who created this supposed mindset in the first place. I still remember the early 1980s when the late Dr Tay Eng Soon took serious pains to explain via television about the statistical assumptions underpinning the rationale decided by the systems engineers then at the Ministry of Education (MOE) on the need to convert the raw scores into their T-score equivalent. The Chief Professional Officer then, Mr Chan Kai Yau, had to pay a heavy price due to his candid view that it was indeed a flawed concept. Despite his mathematics training, his view was not treated with much respect. Before laying the blame squarely on our parents, it would do the honourable Minister Heng a great favour if he were to check the records to ensure a greater sense of fairness and justice. I must advise Minister Heng that our parents in Singapore have always contributed in no small measure towards nurturing our students into responsible citizens, caring individuals and great academics of which we can always be truly proud of, despite the occasional slips due to political decision-making and some serious shortcomings in our school system. We ought not to treat our parents as mere punching bags who will not respond angrily out of a mere deference to political leaders.
3 PM Lee stated at NDR that he would take several years to execute the changes with the PSLE ranking system. Why should this be so? After all, when the changes were introduced in the early 1980s, it was executed speedily and without any reservations. And now that we are aware that it is indeed a flawed concept in the first place, surely the changes can be effected pretty speedily as well, and our government will indeed have the support of all our parents since the system was based on the wrong premise in educational measurement. This way we will not fester the supposed mindset any further.
4 Whilst we are on the subject of the PSLE ranking system, might I also suggest that the present Normal (Technical) stream be further tweaked and renamed by a more innovative stream to encapsulate this group of students TO REFLECT their purpose and mission within the ambit of our educational ETHOS. Additionally, I recommend that all teachers undertaking to take charge of this group of our students must be made to read the refreshingly insightful book "Transformed by The Mission: Stories of Hope and Change" published by the first Principal of Northlight School, Mrs Chua-Lim Yen Ching..
With Warm wishes