TL;DR – Nooo! No, no, no!
Lately, there has been quite a bit of talk about the case of a parent whose daughter had received a photocopy of her PSLE results but not the original slip due to outstanding school fees ($156).
Public sentiments, even among educators, have been divided largely into two camps – some in favour of Ministry of Education (MOE)’s policy of holding back actual results slips, others think otherwise and are not supportive of MOE’s explanation.
Mdm Ho Ching, the wife of our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, must have been following the case and decided to share her two cents on the issue, because #HoChingCares.
On 28 November, she reshared an article on her Facebook with the caption,
No, no, no!”
However, no one can really tell what the CEO of Temasek Holdings was objecting to from her series of No’s in the above post until a comment she’d left on former Permanent Secretary of MFA, Bilahari Kausikan’s Facebook post started surfacing online:
Here are some of the points she made in her comment:
- MOE should give the student her PSLE certificate and go after the parents for their debt.
- However, should a similar case happen to tertiary students who are capable of asking for help, or taking up simple part-time jobs to earn some pocket money to pay for their own outstanding fee, then it would be different.
- Schools can be creative in helping to solve this while creating a rugged society at the same time. For instance, schools can create simple part-time volunteer duties with allowances, so that students can volunteer and earn an allowance for themselves.
- In this way, students can earn allowances to pay for their own school miscellaneous fees, should their families run into financial difficulties.
- Educators and non-teaching staff can also go the extra mile to find out the reasons why students are unable to pay for their miscellaneous and call for help from social workers if needed.
Here’s what she wrote, in case you can’t read the text in the screenshot:
I think of the issue differently.
The pre-teen kid has studied and worked hard for her PSLE.
We should give her, her PSLE certificate.
Go after the parents by all means for their debt, but why inflict this on the child?
When families run into trouble, they can be overwhelmed, and may not even think of their kids or their kids’ school miscellaneous fees.
If it’s an O level, A level or ITE/Poly or university student, it’s different, bcos these are older kids who are capable of asking for help, or of taking up simple part time jobs to earn some pocket money, and paying their school fees, whether miscellaneous or tuition.
I think schools can be creative in helping to solve this, and create a rugged society as well.
One way is to create simple part-time volunteer duties with allowances – it can create volunteer roles for library work, traffic crossing assistance for even younger kids, tutoring younger buddies, PE assistants, manning the bookstore, and such like, so that kids can volunteer and earn an allowance for themselves.
This way, kids can earn allowances to pay for their school miscellaneous fees, if their families run into trouble, buy books, food or toys.
Teachers and school staff can also go an extra mile when kids can’t pay their miscellaneous fees – go visit their families at home to find out what is happening, and call for social workers to help if needed.
I know of many teachers who go that extra mile when students are absent, or turn up late frequently, etc.