Parents welcome scrapping of top students list

Singapore parents welcome the changes from the MOE to stop naming top students at national exams. (Yahoo! file photo)

Parents in Singapore appear to welcome the news that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will no longer provide a list of students that top national exams.

According to local media reports, the ministry will start with the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scheduled to be released on Thursday and then with the results of the N- and O- levels expected to be announced later his year and early next year respectively. Both the overall list of top scorers and the lists of top scorers for each race will be scrapped.

MOE added that this is in line with the "importance of recognising our students for their holistic development and all-round excellence, and to balance the over-emphasis on academic results."

Several parents Yahoo! Singapore spoke to approved of this change.

"As a parent, I think it is totally fine. Whether they announce the names of top students or not, it's just a name. It's just an extra recognition and I believe students are not studying so hard to just get their names announced on national television or printed in newspapers," sales assistant Sim Kim Heok said.

"When there is no announcement [of the top students], I believe there will be less pressure placed on children," the 47-year-old with a Primary 1 child added.

Another parent said the removal of such lists is long overdue.

"I feel that it's not necessary to announce even the top student of each race. Why should we bother to mention the race? How a child does boils down to his own abilities and, I should say, his teachers too," said Jill Choo, 40, mother of a Primary 4 child.

"Removing the top students list will not help in a big way, but it's a small step that the MOE is taking," Choo added.

Not naming top scorers is especially helpful for PSLE students, a parent said.

"As a parent, I am glad that this practice had been removed. I was with my son when he received his PSLE results last year. When the announcement was made for top student and other top 20 to 30 students, you could see the pressure on the faces of those children, including parents," Joycelin Tan, early 40s, healthcare admin.

"Why put a child through such stress when this is only a initial part of their life and it's still to early to determine whether the child will be successful in his future life?" Tan continued.

However, some parents questioned the changes and said that it's a knee-jerk reaction by MOE to address the stresses of PSLE.

One parent, Funz, posted on parenting forum Kiasuparents and said, "Just because the noise about PSLE being stressful is getting louder, they are now going into overdrive to avoid all possible contribution to that stress."

Another user Pirate said, "What's wrong with celebrating the efforts and talents of those who come out tops? How do we inspire excellence in any particular field if we do not celebrate the best performers in that field? Are we taking the first step towards the slippery slope of dumbing down and a culture of mediocrity?"

Author of Happy Student Daniel Wong said that more can be done to focus on collaboration over competition among students.

"Change the PSLE scoring system so that it's not just an absolute three-digit number. I think a banding system similar to the O-Level scoring system is more appropriate," Wong said.

Secondary school admissions can also be based on a more holistic set of criteria rather than just PSLE score, Wong added.

Though the top scorers’ lists will be scrapped, schools can still recognise academic excellence through other avenues. Students who perform academically well will still be recognised through Edusave Awards and scholarships, MOE told local media.

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