Scrap PSLE? SDP called for it 20 years ago

September 19, 2012
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

PAP MP Mr Hri Kumar has called for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) for primary sixers to be scrapped. He is two decades late.$CUT$

Dr Chee Soon Juan had written a series of letters to the Straits Times Forum in 1990 (before he entered politics) and called for streaming examinations at the primary school level to be done away with.  

The SDP also made this argument in Dare To Change published in 1994:

Streaming of our schoolchildren must be done at an appropriate age…when students reach their mid-teens. In fact, education must remain a process where an individual learns to discover himself…it is important that we teach our children that reading and learning can be enjoyable and intrinsically rewarding.

Just this week, however – and more than 20 years later – Mr Hri Kumar finally saw the light, saying: “I am all for slaying the PSLE sacred cow…remove banding, de-emphasise exams and promote non-academic aspects of a child’s development”.

Two important points arise from this episode:

One, more than just having bragging rights about who said what first, it is important to note that ideas on how to make Singapore better don’t just come from the PAP. The Singapore Democrats continue to put out proposals that are worthy of consideration.

But one wouldn’t know this by reading and watching the mass media. The censorship of the SDP’s proposals lead Singaporeans to think that only the PAP is engaged in serious policy debate when it actual fact, it is the Singapore Democrats who have been taking the lead in coming up with workable alternative ideas.

Education is not the only area that we have spoken up on. The online community is familiar with our National Healthcare Plan. We will also be unveiling our housing proposal in the near future. We have also drawn up our Shadow Budget and put up our paper on ministerial salaries.

But all these have been kept from the consciousness of the Singaporean public because MediaCorp and the SPH stable of newspapers have either blacked out or downplayed much of the SDP’s news.  

Two, the media have long portrayed the PAP as having cornered the market when it comes to the intelligentsia, leaving the opposition with intellectual lightweights.

Now that PAP MPs have begun to echo the SDP’s ideas (Mr Hri Kumar’s call for the PSLE to be scrapped is not the first issue, see here and here), it is clear that SDP presents a rival to the PAP in terms of our ability to lead Singapore into the future.

And yet, the PAP continues to use the media to prevent Singaporeans from knowing this truth. Rather than facilitate an honest and open debate about policies that affect the lives of the people, the media dumb down society and deprive Singaporeans of a genuine alternative to the PAP.

The latest incident is the clearest sign yet that the exclusion of the opposition from the National Conversation is part of the PAP Government’s on-going effort to shield the people from the SDP’s ideas.

Such a move serves the PAP well but, tragically, works to the detriment of the country.