SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday (Nov 26) clarified why a student’s original PSLE results slip was withheld after viral Facebook posts claimed she would need it to apply for secondary school admissions.
The withholding of PSLE original results slips due to school fee arrears is “a long-standing practice”, MOE said in response to CNA queries.
In a Facebook post on Monday, activist Gilbert Goh said a student had received only a photocopy of her PSLE results slip because she had "backlogged" school fees of S$156 due to financial reasons.
It went on to claim she would need the PSLE "certificate" to apply for admission into a secondary school.
The post was quoted in full by former presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian.
"In the case highlighted by the FB (Facebook) posts, the parents did not pay miscellaneous fees for two years despite several reminders, and did not put in any application for MOE or school-based financial assistance which would have covered all the costs," the ministry said.
"The child will still receive a copy of the results, just not the original results slip, and she can still apply for secondary schools and will progress like all students."
MOE explained that its funding for each primary school student comes up to about S$12,000 each year and that each student co-pays S$13 of miscellaneous fees per month.
"Further, students from lower-income families can apply for financial assistance that covers their miscellaneous fees, uniforms, textbooks, transport and school meals," the ministry said in its reply.
"If it is about money then the easier solution would be to reduce subsidies and financial assistance."
It added that the issue was "not about recovering the money".
"MOE’s consideration stems from the underlying principle that notwithstanding the fact that the cost of education is almost entirely publicly funded, we should still play our part in paying a small fee, and it is not right to ignore that obligation, however small it is," the ministry said. "We hope parents support us in reinforcing this message."
In his post on Monday, Mr Goh said the girl only receiving a copy of her PSLE results slip was "rubbing salt into the wound of poverty", adding that the "shame" in getting a photocopy of the results slip "weighed heavily on the shoulders of those who are poor and needy".
Mr Tan described the situation as "very bad" when quoting Mr Goh's Facebook post.
Mr Goh also shared other cases of parents who were apparently in similar situations and thanking donors who stepped forward with offers to pay for the arrears.
In one post, he acknowledged that MOE would “do their level best to assist all needy students and “will not leave anyone behind", but added that some do "fall through the crack".
MOE said that financial circumstances should not be allowed to “become an impediment” to a student’s progress, and highlighted that the priority of its educators and institutions was to “ensure that students grow and can fulfil their potential”.
“The authors of the viral posts are trying to call into question the intention and values of MOE," the ministry said.
“Our educators, parents and members of (the) public will have to decide whether MOE’s action is fair and educationally sound, and what the lesson of this teachable moment for our children is.”