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In the debate over the weightage to be given to the score of the Mother Tongue in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), the Singapore Democrats advocate that parents be given the final say in how they want their children to be schooled.
Parents are best placed to assess their home environment which plays a big, if not major, part in how children pick up a language. A system designed to give parents a choice in the learning of the Mother Tongue would help to bring out the best in their children’s learning.
Parents who want their children to excel in their Mother Tongue must have the choice of a curriculum that would allow the standard of teaching of the Chinese language and the weightage of the test score undiluted.
However, parents who feel that their children’s education would be best served by enrolling their children in a class that does not place so much weightage on the Mother Tongue should have the option to do so.
This would give parents a choice and not have children forced into a situation where they find themselves unable to cope with their learning of a language.
It is unnecessary to say that each child possesses different qualities and differing sets of neuropsychological skills. Some pick up language more efficiently than others. Some may develop these learning abilities later than others. Each child’s learning experience is also influenced by his/her home environment.
Given this complex interaction of physiological, psychological and social factors it is unwise that we insist on the same learning-curve for all children.
Having options for our children and allowing parents to choose, with consultation with teachers, the best option for the child would enable us to approach the issue in an enlightened manner.
In this way, we will continue to be able to uphold the standards of the Mother Tongue while allowing families who feel that their children are unable to cope with the pace and level of learning the language an alternative way to excel.
Our ultimate aim should be to facilitate our children’s learning and bring out the best in them, enabling them to fulfill their potential whatever they might be.