Raise awareness of niche programmes for students

Raise awareness of niche programmes for students

MR NG Qi Siang wrote about the need for "alternative selection methods" for Gifted Education Programme (GEP) entrants ("Gifted scheme relevant but needs reform"; March 12).

The GEP utilises standardised tests encompassing linguistic, mathematical and logical challenges to screen students. This wide range of testing is needed to admit students into a general, accelerated academic programme like the GEP, their specific talents notwithstanding.

It is not the objective of the GEP to provide specialisation opportunities for students gifted in niche areas such as language and the humanities. In fact, these students may not flourish under the GEP's broad, academic focus.

Instead, they could be directed towards specialised programmes organised by the Education Ministry to develop their talents.

One example of such a niche programme is the Creative Arts Programme for talented young writers. Students are accepted based on the quality of verified writing portfolios, as suggested by Mr Ng. Selection is independent of participation in the GEP and predominantly based on literary talent, and not overall academic excellence.

Similar programmes are available for the arts and sciences. Many of these do not rely on standardised testing and admissions are decided more holistically.

The problem lies not with the existing framework for gifted students. We need to acknowledge the aims of the GEP and its consequent selection process. We also need to recognise that standalone programmes to develop students in their niche talents already exist. Greater outreach efforts have to be undertaken to increase awareness of such programmes.

Tay Hong Yi

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