SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Education (MOE) will thoroughly investigate any allegations of unfair practices in the direct school admission (DSA) exercise, said Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday (Feb 7).
Over the past five years, there has been an average of seven sets of parents per year questioning the outcome of their child’s DSA selection, he added, responding to a question from Member of Parliament Jamus Lim (WP-Sengkang) about unfair practices in the DSA process.
“Based on MOE’s review of each case, we have found the schools to have conducted their selection processes rigorously, objectively and professionally,” said the Education Minister.
In a supplementary question, Assoc Prof Lim shared that the question was prompted by “anecdotal evidence” on possible cases of unfair practices.
For example, where the selection criteria for applicants is concerned, especially through sports, the recommendation of a coach may “hold a certain undue weight”, he said.
“There is a concern that some coaches, perhaps within the system, are making implicit promises that access to certain spots in certain schools would be favourable because they also happen to be the coaches for those schools,” said Assoc Prof Lim.
He also clarified that he was “not making any accusations” of corruption, and called for more transparency in the DSA exercise.
Assoc Prof Lim also asked whether MOE has plans for a more thorough review of the whole DSA process, instead of on a case-by-case basis.
“If we believe that the system is right, and if you have anecdotal evidence that you think requires our attention, we welcome you to pass it to MOE and we’ll take a look at it,” said Mr Chan in his response.
“But if you think that there is a problem with the entire system, then I would also suggest you let us know where your areas of concern are so we can take a look at this.”
Stressing the difference between anecdotal evidence or isolated cases and a problem within the system, Mr Chan noted that with seven cases out of 4,000 applications, this proportion is even lower than that of PSLE appeals.
There may also be cases where the parents and students “did not get their choice” of school, leading to allegations of unfair practices, he added.
“But if there are such things, let us know. And my assurance to you is that MOE will look at each and every one of these cases thoroughly.”
Mr Darryl David (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) asked whether MOE would consider increasing the diversity of areas that can be used for DSA into secondary schools.
In his reply, Mr Chan said that many schools have proposed to MOE the areas they would like to focus on in terms of their DSA selection.
For example, certain schools have strong traditions in certain areas, he added. “And we allow the school to have that diversity of areas which we want our children to fulfil.”
These areas must be communicated transparently to everyone, and there must be some way to objectively assess the potential of that child in that field, said the Education Minister. CNA