The new PSLE scoring system, for better or worse?

The MOE announcement about the changes to the PSLE new scoring system to come into full effect 2021 has been for some time now. I guess its time to talk about it after percolating what other people have written about the subject.

I won’t repeat the analysis, as the same conclusion has been drawn; that whilst students that have lower scores now will be less divisive in scoring groups, the higher scores are now much minutely differentiated. Instead I will focus on why I think the policy writers want to pursue this avenue.

At a recent catch-up dinner with a close friend who is an experienced HR director with specialization in staff benefits, he described how it works in all the organizations he was with. Every year he is given a budget for performance bonus and staff increment. There is only so much ‘pie’ and too many hungry mouths. One can go the way of the communist and distribute it evenly where everyone gets a tiny sliver of the pie (and everyone ends up being unhappy) or give the bigger share to the best performers as a way to reward them and help them stay. Then there are the remaining crusts.

Today we have a lot of people in this tiny island. In fact we are currently the 3rd densest in the world in number of people per square kilometer even though countries like India and China have far more populace.

There is no doubt there are lots of people in this dense ‘little red dot’ who are good. But good is not good enough as the government wants to sieve out the great because there is only so many ‘top’ positions in civil service and the government have to convince this tier to stay in the country.

So to this end why not tell the majority they are good and should not worry too much about grades. And whittle down to the minority who are the best and give them the best.

Of course many will remark that it is strange to judge a person’s future performance and worth based on a report card. But I would say these people with great scores exemplify the characteristics that the ruling elite want in their political party. Sit down, shut up and regurgitate what have been taught to perfection. Since this is how things have been working, why break it’s winning streak?

So you see, the education system is a way for the incumbent to ensure its continued survival. If your ideologies and aspirations falls into accord with them you benefit, the rest will just be fillers for the society (the consuming masses that creates the country’s economy and the tax base which facilitates the highest paid politicians in the world).

Does that mean that the the rest of us will be stuck in the middle? The sandwiched class? Where the best paying jobs are not within our reach? Definitely not! If you know the odds you can play the poker game of life to your advantage. COMMENT.


  • On January 02, 2017