MPS Inderjit Singh and Hri Kumar Nair recently questioned the relevance of the Gifted Education Programme ("No shortage of ideas from MPs on improving school system"; last Saturday).
Specially tailored education is necessary to cater to the learning needs of gifted children.
Gifted children tend not only to be highly intelligent, but also possess different ways of learning and thinking. So they often find themselves unchallenged by the mainstream syllabus; they need to be challenged by more advanced ideas that allow them to maximise their potential.
Moreover, gifted children often have a different level of maturity or social intelligence, or have more esoteric interests compared to other children of their age. So while it is important for them to interact with their peers from all walks of life, being around others like them makes them feel less isolated.
While the Gifted Education Programme remains relevant, there is much room to improve it.
The time pressure and exam-like nature of the selection test for the programme penalises children who do better under less stressful conditions.
Also, standardised tests gauge only reasoning ability; they exclude children who are gifted in other areas.
Alternative selection methods such as verified portfolios and independent testing reports should be made available.
The Education Ministry ought to look into reviewing the selection process, in order for as many gifted children as possible to access the good learning opportunities that the programme provides.
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