Nineteen Members of Parliament (MPs) spoke about the recent changes to education systems and the pertaining stress points for students. Yesterday, at the start of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Committee of Supply (COS) debate, MPs raised their concerns about students and their parents.
The debate was about examinations and other education policies which had been changed recently; however, the stress among students remained the same. It further went on to discuss issues such as the obsession with grades and special needs education.
Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC), said that streaming ‘tends to pigeon-hole students’ and causes stress among parents. He urged the ministry to ‘cull this sacred cow’ by replacing streaming with subject-based banding.
On exam stress, Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) and Edwin Tong (Marine Parade GRC) talked about the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). They pointed out the lack of avenues for appeal that students have after the exams, especially when they fail to meet the cut-off point.
Noting that the co-curricular system cannot be “rigid and unbending”, Tong said: “We have to remember that a child at 11 or 12 can have different interests and talents from when he or she is 16 or 17, and our system must be flexible enough to allow it.”
Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera also had concerns about the need to help special-needs students get around. He also expressed hope that measures such as the provision of grants or subsidies could be introduced to help make it more attractive to bus operators to offer their services.
Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC), in an impassioned speech on bringing special-needs education to a higher level, said her “biggest concern” lies with the “dearth of learning opportunities for adults with special needs”.
Several MPs also called for another look at certain aspects of the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme.
The MOE’s COS debate will be continued today with Ng Chee Meng - Education Minister (Schools) along with other MOE political officeholders slated to address issues raised by the MPs.