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The Singaporean parliament and public sphere have contested the Extension of Direct School Admission (DSA) system. Even before the PSLE results are out, the initiative provides academically strong elementary students with immediate admission to top schools. It was adopted by the ministry of education in Singapore in the year 2004. It intends to widen the admission requirements for Secondary 1 students beyond the results of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) (Davie, 2016). The expanded DSA program allows the schools to admit students who are good in co-curriculum activities like sports and other talents and arts even before the PSLE results are out (Yang, 2017). Therefore, there extended DSA program is debated whether it should be revised for it to be reserved only for non-academic talent. Different individuals, educators and also students, have taken different stance on the program. However, the academic talented students have a chance to join the top secondary schools on the PSLE grade criteria. (Bookworm, 2016). Therefore, Expanded Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme should be further revised for it to be reserved only for non-academic talent.
The extended DSA scheme has been influenced by social and economic issues which curtail its effectiveness and therefore, it should be revised for it to be reserved for non-academic talent. In the year 2007, Asian parent (2017) article suggests that the children who were admitted through the DSA program were mostly from families with high economic potential and would be able to offer co-curriculum training to their kids at an early age. The children did not concentrate on their academic performance and their academic potential was not realized. Most of the parents whose children got a chance to study under DSA program were able to offer an excellent education to their children at the elementary level and pass in their PSLE level (Mummy wee, 2015). It means that, apart from joining the top schools through DSA program, they could have made it through the PSLE grade. Denise Phua calls it an “Open secret,” because it was visible to all Singaporean that the higher social classes and well-developed families were the ones who benefited from the program as they would attain trainers for their kids at a tender age and in addition to that, provide better learning environment for their kids unlike the needy families (Davie, 2016). The economic ground ends up determining the participants of the program by giving double chances to join top secondary schools for both academic and non-academic talents instead of securing chances for non-academic students who may not have a chance to afford conducive environment for academic excellence. For this reason, I tend to support that the scheme should be revised for it to be reserved for non-academic talent.
The expanded DSA scheme for pupils entering secondary 1 should further be revised for it to be reserved only for non-academic talent. The scheme has not demonstrated its effectiveness in its application because it is very integrated. There have risen some weaknesses in the program where the parents and educators have crippled learning for academic excellence and passion for classwork. Most of the bright students do not exploit their abilities in class because after all, they have the talent to show and join secondary 1 in Singapore if they are right in non-academic talent (Asian parent, 2017). Ms. Phua criticizes the DSC partakers because they demotivate sharp minds who are in a position to study hard and still achieve in their PSLE exam and join top schools. The expanded DSA Scheme will tend to be very general that it loses meaning when it advocates admission of both Academic and non-academic talent. I tend to argue that, if the extended DSA scheme is no difference with the regular entry, based on academic performance, in the enrolment ground. If a child will get equal chances to join a top secondary school when he performs in class, and when he performs in academic talent, there is no essence of applying it as it is currently expanded but rather revise it for non-academic talent (William Tan, 2016).
The expanded DSA scheme should be revised for it to be reserved for non-academic talent and set an equilibrium between the non-academic skill and academic expertise. The extended program is currently not specific. It entails the admission of both academic and non-academic talent, and therefore learners find it hard to specialize in either in academic talent or non-academic talent. Ms. Phua says, “When curiosity and live for learning is snuffed out when one is young, it will be hard to re-ignite it after one’s formal school years when he leaves the school gate” (Lee, 2016). It leads one to perceive that, learners who are made by their parents to work harder in non-academic activities are not passionate about it. Again, it becomes an ability than a talent. This child could have been better in academics, but the culture of reading and learning for academic excellence is lost. Therefore, after the child is grown, in secondary school, he is not able to cope again. Thus, the program should be revised for it to be reserved for non-academic talents so that even after joining Secondary 1, the student is nurtured and helped to grow in the non-academic field. Therefore, the expanded DSA should be revised for it to be reserved for non-academic talents.
However, expanded DSA can be retained because reserving the scheme for non-academic students only would arouse jealousy for those who study hard. The current situation incorporates both the academic and non-academic talent. Therefore, there are equal benefits to both sides. The students who study hard for them to attain high grades for top secondary schools are considered in respect to their abilities in non-academic talent scope. They, therefore, feel recognized. The talented non-academic learners are also unique in that, they have skills different from the others, and then, the counterargument to revising the scheme for it to be reserved for them is opposed.
Another counterargument on the revision of DSA scheme for it to be reserved for the non-academic talent is for the ides that, even those non-academic outliers get to the top schools, sooner later they would not be able to cope with the academic standards, and many would drop out. Davie, (2016) suggests that admitting learners based on non-academic talent in an educational based top school is harassing the student. It is for the reason that, the core business in most Singaporean secondary schools is academics, especially at the lower levels. Therefore, the DSA scheme should not be revised for it to be reserved for non-academic talent.
In Conclusion, whether to uphold or revise the extended DSA scheme is still debatable. The intentions of extended DSA scheme to upgrade the education system in Singapore has not been achieved as expected because of the forces such as the economy, social and education issues (Bookworm, 2016). The scheme was initially aimed at promoting holistic education by allowing the schools in Singapore to admit students at Secondary 1 by meritocracy based on a diverse range of achievements and talents. Therefore, Expanded Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme should be further revised for it to be reserved only for non-academic talent.
Asianparent. (2017, n.d). Five things you need to know about direct school admission (DSA) for your school going child [Article]. Retrieved from: https://sg.theasianparent.com/five-things-you-need-to-know-about-direct-school-admission-dsa-for-your-school-going-child/
Bookworm, L. (2016, March 01). Is Direct School Admission (DSA) Beneficial [Blog] Retrieved from http://mylilbookworm.blogspot.co.ke/2016/03/is-direct-school-admission-dsa.html
Davie, S. (2016, March 30). Schools, stop the 'kiasu' practice of using DSA to 'chope' bright kids [Article]. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/schools-stop-the-kiasu-practice-of-using-dsa-to-chope-bright-kids
Lee, P. (2016, January 28). 3 unhealthy trends plaguing education: Denise Phua [Article] Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/3-unhealthy-trends-plaguing-education-denise-phua
Mummy wee. (2015 July 15). School Stories #12: DSA. Yet another initiative parents have warped [Blog] Retrieved from http://www.mummyweeblog.com/2015/07/dsa-yet-another-initiative-parents-have.html
William Tan, K. (2016, April 8). Don't shut bright kids out of DSA [Article]. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/forum/letters-in-print/dont-shut-bright-kids-out-of-dsa
Yang, C. (2017, March 17). Parliament: DSA scheme for pupils to enter Secondary 1 directly to be expanded [Article] Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/parliament-dsa-scheme-for-pupils-to-enter-secondary-1-directly-to-be-expanded
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