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Education Minister responds to PSLE queries for homeschooled students

MP for Nee Soon GRC, Ms Carrie Tan, questioned the PSLE policy for homeschooled children, including the 33rd percentile benchmark. In response, Education Minister Mr Chan Chun Sing emphasized the PSLE’s role in guiding students’ educational paths and ensuring homeschooled children receive foundational education.

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SINGAPORE: Ms Carrie Tan, Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC, raised questions concerning the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) policy in place for homeschooled children.

Specifically, Ms Tan inquired about the necessity for homeschooled children to achieve the 33rd percentile benchmark to be eligible for PSLE. She also questioned the current requirement for children to take the PSLE at the age of 12, considering children have varying learning paces.

Under the requirements of the Ministry of Education, children who are home-schooled must:

  • Sit for the PSLE in 4 subjects (English Language, Mother Tongue Language, Mathematics and Science) at standard level.
  • Meet the PSLE benchmark pegged at the 33rd percentile of all students in national primary schools taking four standard-level subjects in that same year.
  • Sit for a National Education quiz before the PSLE.

In a written response, Education Minister Mr Chan Chun Sing emphasized that the PSLE serves not just as an evaluation of a child’s academic competence, but also as a crucial guide for their subsequent educational journey.

The examination helps in determining subjects suitable for children at the next academic stage.

Minister Chan also stressed the significance of the PSLE in offering a transparent and unbiased method for admitting students to secondary schools.

Addressing the concern of homeschooling, Minister Chan highlighted that even children exempted from Compulsory Education, including those homeschooled, are mandated to appear for the PSLE.

This policy exists to ensure that these children achieve a foundational level in their academic education, thereby equipping them to pursue higher learning and training.

Responding to Ms Tan’s concern about children’s varying learning rates, Minister Chan said, “We recognise that students learn at different paces.”

He stated that the education system has been designed with flexibility, allowing students to tailor their learning according to their individual needs.

For instance, primary school students who might require more time to grasp fundamental subjects have the option to opt for Foundation subjects at the PSLE.

Mr Chan also mentioned the modifications to the PSLE scoring system from 2021, where results no longer minutely differentiate between students. This change enables students to concentrate on their individual progress rather than their relative performance against peers.

The Full Subject-Based Banding is said to allow students transitioning to secondary school to select subjects aligned with their aptitude, interests, and learning necessities.

Mr Chan concluded by reaffirming the ministry’s commitment to regularly reassessing policies, ensuring that they always cater to the diverse needs of students and assist them in realizing their maximum potential.

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