KOH SUI LIN: There have been calls for a review of the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) and many suggestions for its improvement.
If there is any review, I hope the authorities will consider, first and foremost, the needs of the gifted children.
Their cognitive and intellectual abilities are significantly different from those of other children. They learn much faster, and what challenges and stretches the minds of others could be painfully stifling to them.
Like all children, they need meaningful work and an opportunity to challenge themselves, which the regular curriculum does not offer.
Put in a regular classroom, they would lose motivation to learn or even perform poorly; put them in a stimulating environment and they would thrive.
They also have emotional needs arising from their high intellect.
They develop at a more uneven pace than the typical child. A gifted eight-year-old may have the mind of a 14-year-old and the emotional maturity of a six-year-old, making the child stand out from his classmates.
The GEP already generates strong negative responses from the public. One can only imagine the reactions these children would get from their peers and the social isolation they would face, because they are so different from the majority.
Educators know it makes sense to single out and separate gifted children, so the curriculum and educational environment can be tailored to suit their intellectual, social and emotional needs.
A one-size-fits-all education policy is a true waste of public funds.
This letter was written by Koh Sui Lin.
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