More can be done to support students’ talents, abilities


Amir Mirza Johari

Published: 4:00 AM, March 11, 2017

The decision to abolish academic tests and increase school intake of students in the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme is a laudable one, yet I believe more can be done to recognise and support the talents and abilities of our students in schools (Parents welcome move to level playing field, but say it won’t dampen competitiveness; March 8).

It was announced several years back that every secondary school will offer two distinctive programmes, the Applied Learning Programme (ALP) and Learning for Life Programme (LLP), by this year.

ALP and LLP are programmes in specific fields unique to each school and signal that “every school is a good school”. They aim to develop skills and character, and encourage students to stay curious and learn throughout their lives.

The world is rapidly changing and the jobs market is getting more competitive. Hence, students, unlike in the past, cannot rely on just their academic grades to succeed. As much as DSA recognises such skills and character in students, it is a winning point for only a handful of students.

Until now, DSA was not widely offered. But with schools now having their own distinctive programmes through the ALP and LLP, all secondary schools can, through the DSA, offer a playing field that is open and diverse for everyone to pursue their interests.

This will allow all students who have a flair in specific areas to further delve into their passions and excel further, instead of just a handful of students whose talents are wanted in certain schools.

While the revamped DSA acknowledges students’ talents and aims to motivate them in their respective areas of interest, we should also spare some thought for those who may not have found their cup of tea yet, or those cannot find the right place to drink their tea and hence may lose out under the current system.

We are definitely taking steps and progressing in our pursuit of holistic learning. -However, the mindsets of students, parents, educators and society need to match, so that we continue to support, motivate and reward our students based on what they are able to do and the values they share, not for what is reflected on their result slips.