I was reading The New Paper the other time regarding the “poor” GCE A level results some students get. The general view of these students from top junior colleges of what constitutes as “poor” grades is not getting the perfect score. On one hand, I share their devastation. On the other, I don’t know if I should sympathize. What is wrong with not getting perfect score? Is this the consequence of a result-driven nation?
I think the real devastation is what has happened to these students. They seemed to be warped into getting good grades. Even the term “good grades” has been warped. Getting straight distinctions used to be known as excellent grades. It is a pity that such bright students cannot see the simple pleasure of getting distinction. According to Ouyang Hong Yue, a RJC student interviewed by The New Paper, said that,” It’s not a big deal to get 4As in (his) school…”
I guess to be in a good school, it is deemed ordinary to get perfect, or close to perfect score, since everyone else is getting the same grades. Ironically, it is when you performed below “average” you are “outstanding”. It bugs me that terms such as “average” and “good” have been overstated. The true meaning of such words is lost. They have been altered to suit the current situation, to adapt to the ever changing and result-driven world. And by doing so, it affects those students who are not as “good”. I am referring to students from other junior colleges placed lower in the ranks.
I was devastated when I received my result slip. I did not perform as well as I had expected. I did not get that 2As and a B I was hoping for. I felt incompetent and I blame myself for my failure. However, a few days later when I read about students who were devastated because they did not get 3As or at least 2As I was confused and annoyed. I began to ponder over their weird behaviour. It was then I realize how much emphasis we have placed on getting “good” grades, which ironically under-value the quality of the As. Although many students work hard for their As, how does that differentiate you from your competitors?
Still, the question is: have Singaporean students become brighter or are the papers getting easier? Or are we placing too much on academic achievements and asking them to grab the scholarships? First of all, let’s look the different ways scholarships are given in different countries. In the US, the criteria seem more lax. Almost anyone can apply for one. I subscribed to one agency and I get hourly offers sent to my email. In Singapore, it is more stringent. Plus the scholarship is a form of recognition of their hard work, on top of a way to help fund their tertiary education. It is very competitive. And only the “excellent” students are considered. Students who lack distinctions or leadership qualities will not stand a chance.
On one hand, I am glad that the government and companies are still upholding the value of a scholar—that he or she has to be a dynamic person. On the other, they are sending out the message that one has to follow certain standards, which would pose a problem to students like myself who lack the leadership quality and capabilities to get As. And to know that my efforts will not be acknowledged as great those students is dampening to the spirit. What happen to celebrating the diversity of talents? Probably because there are not many companies who are doing well like those in US thus not many scholarships are given out. They are only given to those with potential, who fortunately get to showcase their potential early. I do not blame them. I can wait.
My point is that I am a student. And we should realize that there is no such thing as ‘A’ student. There are many students with different capabilities. I just want to be given the chance to show what I am capable of and be acknowledged, to have the chance to apply for bursaries at least to help fund my tertiary education, be in locally or overseas. I understand that it is an investment therefore careful measures should be taken. I wish this trend will change when the economy is doing better.