ST Jan 12, 2008This article does not surprise me. The principal's attitude - which I deplore - is common among educators in Singapore. The selfish motivation shows clearly here:
Sec 5 class advised: Go to ITE instead
Principal tells students that they are unlikely to do well at O levels
By Sandra Davie
CALL it a disheartening start to the new school year.
A group of 27 girls in a Secondary 5 class in a mission school - which shall remain unnamed - were advised by their principal on the first day of school last week to seek transfers to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), since they were unlikely to do well in the O levels this year.
To back her point, she even flashed the girls' detailed N-level grades on the board in class using an overhead projector; she also stressed that she wanted 100 per cent passes in her school.
The result: teens with punctured self-confidence and some fuming parents.
".... she also stressed that she wanted 100 per cent passes in her school."In other words, the principal is concerned that the weaker students will lower her school's overall pass score. She would prefer that they get out of her school as soon as possible. After all, the size of her annual bonus could be affected by the school's pass score.
This kind of thinking happens in better schools as well. I was previously a student at one of Singapore's top junior colleges. I remember one group session where the Head of the Maths Department badgered the "weaker" students to stop taking Further Maths (one of the A-level subjects). Why? She didn't think that they had a good chance of scoring an A or B. They were at no real risk of actually failing, but they might conceivably score a C or D. Her fine record of top grades would be ruined! What a disaster.
Into the fray jumps our PAP man, Lui Tuck Yew. I'll declare my bias upfront - I don't like him. I have not liked Lui ever since the Straits Times reported that he was heading this kind of PAP committee. Sneaky, sneaky. Anyway:
ST Jan 16, 2008What's my take? 40% of Secondary 5 students don't make it to polytechnic. That means 60% of them do. If the odds are in your favour, why not try?
Principal's 'wake-up call' to Sec 5 students had to be 'conveyed'
By Jane Ng
PARENTS and students may disagree with the tone a principal used when she told some Secondary 5 students to apply for the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) instead of doing the O levels, but the message was one that had to be delivered, said Minister of State for Education Lui Tuck Yew on Wednesday.
Past data shows that 40 per cent of students will not do well enough to qualify for polytechnic, and students need to know this from the start, he said.
Speaking to reporters after a teachers' investiture at the National Institute of Education, Rear-Admiral (NS) Lui said it was important to separate the 'tone' from the 'substance' of the message.
'We can calibrate the tone, we can soften it, improve on the presentation, but there is a lot of work to be done between Secondary 4 and Secondary 5.'
'Principals need to do their job to convey this message to the students and teachers to do their part to challenge them, set high goals and to help them achieve these goals,' he said.
What's the worst that could happen? One year later, you find that you can't make it to the poly. You can still go to the ITE then. Where's the damage? None that I can see. (And no, the size of your principal's annual bonus is not relevant).
Yes, you would have "wasted" one extra year in secondary school, studying subjects like Maths, Science and English. But you would have a few GCE O-level passes and a N-level certificate, rather than just a N-level certificate. Surely that counts for something.
And that extra year of education - is that really such a waste? Is studying Maths, Science and English in secondary school really so useless? I don't think so. But Lui seems to think so. I do wonder why he seems to have such a poor opinion of our education system. After all, he's responsible for it. Oops, did I just answer my own question.