Thu, Mar 19, 2009
The New Paper
Copyright issues hit 10-year series

By Santokh Singh and Pearly Tan

LOOKING for the latest Ten-Year Series but can't find it? There is a reason it is missing.

The series, popularly known as TYS among students, has run into copyright problems.

The Ministry of Education said: 'The Cambridge International Examinations and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (Seab) are in discussion to resolve some copyright issues of third-party materials used in the examination papers.

'As such, publishing firms have been told to hold off the publishing of past-year examination papers in the interim.'

The annual publication, which compiles all of the past 10 years' GCE O and A level examination questions, has been used in schools for more than four decades.

Published in individual subjects, the series, for both classroom practice and individual revision, was readily available in book stores in the past.

The Additional Maths 30-year series cost $7.50 last year.

Mr Kelvin Yoo, 36, CEO of Singapore Asian Publications, said: 'This problem is only happening this year. We're just waiting for...the tender date to be out.

'For the last two years, about six publishers were given the publishing rights. We would usually know the tender date by November and the results by December. But this time, we haven't heard anything from MOE yet.'

Daryl Chee, a second-year Catholic Junior College student, said the series is an important aid. 'It is a good form of practice. For the O levels, some subjects only have five-year papers in books, and I even got my teachers to help me get copies of exam papers before that.'

Students claim that in some cases, the series shows a pattern in the type of questions asked over the years.

'There is often replication of questions, and teachers also help us to sort out the questions. This helps us to focus our preparation,' said 15-year-old Felicia Chee, who is studying in Fuhua Secondary School.

She added: ' I have a cousin who did not work very hard all along but spotted the right questions for the O levels and ended up doing well.'

But some students feel that not having access to the series will not affect them much.

More critical thinking

Gwen Quek, 18, said: 'Exams nowadays involve more critical and creative thinking. Moreover, the way they set papers now is different from what is mostly reflected in the ten-year series.

'Nowadays, the information is given to us and we have to think critically and work out solutions. We can also exchange (exam papers) inter-school, as schools are already doing.

'Working on papers from other schools is often more challenging, and benefits us more than TYS anyway.'

Gwen is in her second year at Catholic Junior College.

Some parents said that without the series, their children will have less practice before their exams.

Madam Goh Lee Kim, 48, said: 'I'm not happy that this is happening. Students in secondary schools and JCs need to look at past years' papers to have an idea of what to expect when they sit for their O or A levels.

'It will be a big disadvantage, though they may get papers from other schools. The Ten-Year Series set the standard for what students can expect in their forthcoming papers.'

Madam Goh's son is studying in Yuhua Secondary School.

However, Mrs Amy Tan, 51, who has two sons, one in Sec 2 at Anglican High School and the other in the first year at St Andrew's Junior College, felt it is not a big issue.

'If it's across the board, then the playing field is level as everyone is facing the same situation,' said Mrs Tan.

Mr Hsi Han Yin, 36, a mathematics teacher in Temasek Junior College, said the books may not be relevant to the recently-changed syllabus anyway.

He said: 'Not having the ten-year series will make the students more resourceful when looking for questions to do.

'Also, as the syllabus changes, the older questions may not be as relevant.'

The MOE said students would not be handicapped.

It said: 'Seab would like to assure students that they still have access to past-year papers for reference.

'School candidates can approach their schools while private candidates can approach MOE's customer service centre for assistance.'

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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