IN HIS letter, 'Six-year integrated programme: Do kids lose out on O levels?' (Feb 26), Mr Kaliannan Tamilselvam asked whether students in the integrated programme (IP) are disadvantaged when they apply for overseas university courses because they do not sit for the O levels.
The IP caters to university-bound students who benefit from a more flexible style of education. In particular, the time freed up from not having to take the O levels could be spent on enhancing their learning experiences, including overseas immersions and independent research projects.
The IP focuses on developing students' intellectual abilities, as well as their creative and critical thinking skills. This prepares them well for university education, both locally and overseas.
Top universities in Britain and the United States - such as Cambridge University, Oxford University, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - have indicated that they are happy to accept IP students from Singapore, without them taking the O levels.
The admission criteria of the courses offered by private education organisations in Singapore, including the ones cited by Mr Tamilselvam, are determined by the respective organisations. The Ministry of Education is, therefore, unable to comment if these private education organisations would accept IP students into their programmes.
We would advise IP students and their parents to consider the standing and quality of the degree courses offered by these organisations when deciding on the choices for university education.
Chee Hong Tat
Ministry of Education
This article was first published in The Straits Times on Mar 6, 2008