Like clockwork, there are several times in a year when the forum page receives letters on education in Singapore. It doesn’t matter that the topics are repeated year after year. Parents write in when their children are affacted. In June/July when the primary one registration starts, parents complain about the ballot system, the priority scheme and how all these policies breed elitism in Singapore. This year, a new complain was about PR and foreigners competing with Singaporeans for top schools.
Annually too at this time, the forum page would publish several letters regarding the Gifted Education Programmes (GEP), mostly lamenting the unfairness of the entrance exams and how their kids would be penalised. Last year, there was a letter stating that MOE should ban all enrichment centres from giving GEP preparation classes as these are unfair to kids who could not afford it and skewed the results. How naive, I thought when I read the letter. If there is a need, there’ll be business.
I wrote in to give my two cents worth in 2007.
and was promptly rebutted by MOE : http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/forum/2007/20071020.htm
But I stand firm on my views as I had first hand experience on the matter.
This year, there were letters again on how the well-to-do’s edge out on GEP as they can afford the coaching lessons, as well as one letter stating that since her daughter were born later in the year, the test, held in Sept/Oct would be easier for the older kids, since her child is in effect only 8 years old when she takes the test. Then, there is the gender issue that girls do better at this age since they mature earlier. (Not true for both points, since there were more boys than girls getting in last year, and Aaron is also born in Nov.)
I agree that coaching helps. Wiith my older kids, I was too busy to send them for enrichment, despite many prompting from my aunt and sister-in-law. Their kids managed to enter GEP because I think they started their training early.
So, when Aaron was born, I decided to prove you need early coaching to enter GEP. At three, he was sent to I Can Read to learn reading. At four, he started mental maths and continued English lessons at primary level at Morris Allen even though he was reading beyond his age. That’s how kiasu his mother was. Last year, I signed him up for GEP coaching session with Mr Allen himself prior to the entrance test. Although not everyone of his classmates got in, most passed the first test and half eventually entered GEP, including Aaron.
So, what does that prove? Probably Aaron is quite smart himself (whose genes does he have?) but the coaching gave him the push.
By October, you would read letters regarding the PSLE exams and how difficult the questions are for twelve-year-olds…like clockwork.