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School Rankings Must Stop! They’re Harmful, Elitist and Make our Children Suffer

SDP: Today, parents of children who just took their PSLE will find out if their applications of their choice of secondary schools would have been successful. Many students will, once again, be rejected and told that they are not good enough.

Students are admitted or rejected by school administrations based on their aggregate PSLE scores. The Ministry of Education allows students to apply up to six schools in order of preference.

Because secondary schools are ranked, parents scramble to get their children into the “better” ones. Can they be blamed? The top schools are given more resources and students are fast-tracked to university programmes where they stand a better chance of getting state scholarships and better careers. The tragedy is that the practice breeds an elitist society.

This is the nub of the woes and failings of our education system – the insistence that pitting our children against one another will lead to the best and the brightest being identified and groomed for future use.

Such an archaic outlook and practice harms our children (see here) and does little to prepare our people for a future that will be radically different from the past. It is a future where creativity, resilience, and resourcefulness will be at a premium – not the ability to memorise and regurgitate textbook material.

If we don’t change – and change soon – towards a more enlightened approach in educating our children, Singapore will have to, as the PAP is leading us towards, depend more and more on foreigners to prop us up.

In the meantime, the vast majority of students are constantly told that they are not good enough. Doing this at a young age and maintaining it throughout one’s life blunts the ability and desire for intellectual growth and personal development.

Singaporeans are constantly reminded that we don’t have natural resources. This is why it is such a travesty that our most important resource – the minds of our people – are so extravagantly wasted.

This commentary was first published on the Singapore Democrats.
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