Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The PSLE Year

In a few months, M will be sitting for the Primary School Leaving Examination (or PSLE for short).

It seems surreal that his entire Primary school education journey is nearly coming to an end. Just a short few months and we would have reached the end of this journey.

This year, I thought of his first day of school very often. Though I cannot remember all the details of that day, but I can recall vividly how emotional I felt watching him get dressed in the school uniform (I know, he was only going to school and not even getting married!!!) and how proud I was as I watched him walk away from us towards the room that the Primary One kids were supposed to gather.

And now, here we are, just three months away from the PSLE, the high stakes exam.

After months of ridiculous amount of daily homework and ridiculously long days that end after 4pm, four times a week, I am just glad that the mid year exams were over and we can take a small breather before we get mentally prepared for the final leg.

Since this is our first PSLE experience, naturally there is a certain level of anxiety in the family, especially since the local education system and policies have evolved to such an extent over the last few decades, that the PSLE is now an extremely high stakes exam for our 12-year-old children. So much, TOO much, is at stake!!

The 6-year Integrated Programme (IP) and the Direct Admission Exercise (DSA) totally change the game. While the Ministry of Education (M.O.E.) has good intentions for introducing the IP and DSA, it really complicates the Secondary School selection process. I will write more about this in a later post.

Though the introductions of the IP and DSA only affect a selected group of the national cohort more directly, the process of enabling some 12-year-old to 'chope' places all the up to Year 2 of Junior College creates an indrect effect of limiting places at the top Junior Colleges for 'O' Levels holders, thus heightening the already stiff competition at age 16.

No wonder parents feel the need that their kids must ace their PSLE, in order to secure places for the next six years! If they don't invest the $ and energy at PSLE, it may be even tougher for the kids to have any chance.

So the stress and pressure is here to stay, whether or not the M.O.E. reveal the top scorers. Even with the recent announcement of the removal of the PSLE aggregate in 2020, I am unconvinced it will be sufficient to eliminate an ounce of stress for both the parents and students. Oh well, we shall worry about that when the time comes.

For now, I am keeping my eyes on the ball.

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