No more naming of Top Student in PSLE : A boon or a bane? - - Singapore Lifestyle Portal

No more naming of Top Student in PSLE : A boon or a bane?

PSLE Results are out today

To all the students who are eagerly awaiting this result; Good Luck and God bless!

To all parents who had slog hard for this day, whatever the results, know that if your child does the best of his/her ability, be proud of what they have achieved regardless the results.

After all, results do not matter in this day and age...

At least this is what MOE is portraying for PSLE. For this year, there will be no top student in PSLE. Gone will be the day when you would see the feature on top students for the PSLE cohort on every major newspaper the next day. Even if someone hits the perfect score of 300, you would not know who is the child genius that accomplishes this feat. In addition, the practice of naming the top student in ethnic groups will be scrapped as well.

This comes hot on the heels of policies such as scrapping secondary school banding, promoting every school as a good school and calls for reviewing PSLE or even scrapping it. These measures taken singularly does raise an eyebrow or two. However taken collectively, one who thinks that MOE had become a Zealot in banishing academic performance to the background and promoting a holistic yet monotonous education system.


The implications of such policies cumulating to yesterday announcement are more than meet the eyes.

  • In scrapping the acknowledgement of individuals achievements in favour of the masses progress is a step back in time. This particular measure robs the recognition of the individual that had worked hard to achieve his/her grades. Imagine that you are the top of your cohort and yet no one knows. Such anonymity could take away the hunger for hard work and the yearn for excellence. It suppresses the individual and promotes a culture of mediocrity.
  • Moreover without a benchmark, instead of relieving pressure,, fearful parents may retort to even more draconian measures in keeping up with the Joneses. With a black-box model, parents may pressure their child to take on more classes or activities to boost their chances of secondary school intake. You never know what grades are high enough and in our society that smacks of kaisuim, you can only imagine the consequences. This may unwittingly create a black hole of pressures instead.
  • On a lighter note, this measure could possibly mean the death of tuition centre competition. Tuition centres could no longer boost that they are the 'creators' of top PSLE students, neither can they lay claim that the centre produces X% of top students in Singapore. That itself should provide relief to both parents and students who seek such centres in order not to lose out. No more herd instinct on chasing the goose that lay the golden egg.

Solve the root of the problem, not scratch the surface

It could be argued in parts that parents contributed to the success and such a measure would effectively reduce the pressure on students. However, let's not take away the recognition of individuals whom by their own efforts achieved what they had. After all the system of recognising top students in school exist on several levels and not just PSLE. Thus banning of the naming of top PSLE should extend to localised school and not just on National Level; if such a step makes justification to a holistic educational system.

It is the norm rather than the exception that top performance is recognised in today's society. There will always be a ranking of the top economy, the highest sales achiever, the most valuable company, the best restaurant. To take away recognition and cloak it in anonymity will result in the encouragement of non-performance and a notion that hard work is not always rewarded.

I do not advocate that PSLE is the milestone of education. I am glad that it is not as I can say that my result of 235 many decades ago is mediocre at the very best. I do not foresee too that any of my sons to be featured in the future even if there is a continuation of the announcement of top PSLE student in Singapore ( and if they are, I will be proud of them) Nevertheless let us not deny that the flaw of the system is not the acknowledgement of the top student, but rather the emphasis base on individual scoring of the cumulative PSLE results. After all, the score will be the one that determines which secondary school you will progress to.


  • Rather look to change the scoring system to a band scoring not unlike the O Levels, it A* gets 1 point, A 2 points, B 3 points and so forth. That way, the individual score will be de-emphasis and a more holistic approach to scoring will be achieved. This way, you can have not one but a few more top students and recognition will still be given and rewarded.
  • Admission to secondary school can also be tailored so that each school should have intake for different levels of academic achievement. If MOE is serious about every school is a good school, then there should not be a distinction in the ease of getting into the school of choice based solely on grades.
  • Set the directions clear for the future and not just taking out selective policy and practices. A clear overview would dispel the notions that such 'individual' measure is a reaction to public pressure rather than a solution by itself.

In any case, it would be a good 7 years or so before the pressures of PSLE would visit the family, till then, let's hope with all these measures, we are not doing the cha-cha on education. It seems that MOE is determined to roll back times with the abolishment of policies without really rolling out new ones.
At this rate, we may just find ourselves back in the 70s where the cha-cha was the iconic dance of the decade.

One step forward, two steps back.

1 comment:

  1. Simple: boon if the top student is not your child ; bane if the top student turns out to be your child.


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