Youth forum: Help students develop communication skills

SINGAPORE - The Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme, which allows students to enter a school of choice based on qualities other than academic results, has become very popular.

Many parents send their children for special preparatory programmes to prepare them for the DSA selection process.

These programmes can range from interview preparation classes to helping students boost their portfolio. Students from less privileged backgrounds will likely not be able to afford such programmes.

Such students may already be academically disadvantaged compared with their more well-to-do peers who have tuition and enrichment classes.

With these DSA preparatory classes, these students face yet another hurdle in identifying their potential in non-academic areas.

Six years ago, I attempted to enter a popular Integrated Programme (IP) school via the DSA.

However, I was rejected after the interview stage, probably because of my poor communication skills.

In hindsight, I might have been successful had I the opportunity to attend preparatory classes.

Two years later, I once again tried to enter an IP school and succeeded.

The difference in outcome was not because of an interview preparation class.

Rather, it was because I was given the opportunity to develop my public speaking and communication skills in secondary school.

Developing these skills through real-life experiences is more impactful than a one-off interview class, as these experiences stay with you for life, while the class just prepares you for an interview.

I hope primary school teachers will help identify potential DSA pupils, and develop their personal voice and communication skills through real-life experiences, especially for those who may not have the resources to attend such programmes outside of school.

Melissa Tan Siew Ting, 18, waiting to enter university

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