Fri, Dec 25, 2009
The Straits Times
More going on to post-secondary education

By Leow Si Wan

EFFORTS to open up more pathways for students to pursue their education and to do it at their own pace have paid off, with more making it past secondary school.

Last year, 92.6 per cent of students went on to post-secondary education.

This was the best showing in a decade, going by data released by the Education Ministry yesterday. Ten years ago, in 1999, only 78.2 per cent of students pursued post-secondary education.

Principals interviewed, such as Mr Adrian Lim of Ngee Ann Secondary, said this was most likely a result of more routes being made available for students to pursue higher education.

He said: 'The education landscape now is very varied. There are many specialised schools catering to different talent, and post-secondary institutions are reinventing themselves very quickly to offer new courses for the new economy.'

Over the years, the Government has made a conscious effort to open up routes for students at both ends of the spectrum.

New institutions such as Northlight School were set up to help weaker students, while others such as the NUS High School of Math & Science were established to nurture specific talents.

Overall, the results for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), the O levels and the A levels last year were comparable to 2007.

For PSLE, there was a dip in overall percentage passes from 97.7 per cent in 2007 to 97.1 per cent last year.

For the A levels, the percentage of students who obtained at least three H2 passes and passed the General Paper or Knowledge and Inquiry increased slightly.

And the proportion of students with at least three O-level passes remained close to 95 per cent.

Even though there were concerns over the difficulty of the PSLE maths paper, the overall percentage of students who scored between A* and C grades stayed almost the same as 2007, dipping only by 0.1 percentage point from 83.2 per cent to 83.1 per cent.

Commenting on the breakdown of scores by the different ethnic communities, Mr T. Rajasegar, chief executive officer of the Indian self-help group Sinda, called on Indian students to continue working on PSLE and O-level maths.

'This cohort has not performed worst than others, but their maths results continue to be below national average, so we hope they can improve,' he said.

While a spokesman for the Chinese Development Assistance Council described the percentage drop in the number of Chinese students passing the PSLE as insignificant, she said it will continue to provide quality tuition, especially for lower-income families.

Malays continued to outshine the other races in mother tongue scores, but were the weakest in other subjects, according to the MOE data, which is provided as feedback to the communities on how their children have fared.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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