A Facebook post put up on Nov. 25 claimed that a student in Singapore was unable to get her Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) certificate on Nov. 21, 2019 because of unpaid school fees:
The post by Gilbert Goh has since garnered more than 2,900 shares in less than 24 hours.
Summary of what happened
Goh said in the post that he heard about the student who was given a photocopied version of the certificate due to some outstanding school fees.
Along with the post, Goh also shared a photo of the school fees, which showed that the student had an outstanding balance of S$156 to pay off.
Goh added that he was sympathetic to the girl's plight, but was heartened to know that a Good Samaritan paid for the girl's school fees.
The girl was then able to receive the actual certificate, which Goh wrote, will be essential to apply for admission to a secondary school.
Goh also accused the Ministry of Education of spending large sums on foreign students but neglected Singaporean students.
MOE: Not about recovering money
In response to media queries, MOE said that it is aware of the post written by Goh, which was later also shared by former presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian.
MOE said: "The authors of the viral posts are trying to call into question the intention and values of MOE. Our educators, parents, and members of the public will have to decide whether MOE’s action is fair and educationally sound, and what the lesson of this teachable moment for our children is."
While MOE verified that the original PSLE results slip was withheld from the student whose parents had incurred accumulated school miscellaneous fees of S$156, they added that "the issue is not about recovering the money".
MOE elaborated that the funding for each primary school student comes up to S$12,000 per year, and each student co-pays only S$13 of miscellaneous fees per month.
Withholding of PSLE original results slips due to school fee arrears has been a long-standing practice as the cost of education is almost entirely publicly funded, said the ministry.
"MOE’s consideration stems from the underlying principle that notwithstanding the fact that the cost of education is almost entirely publicly funded, we should still play our part in paying a small fee, and it is not right to ignore that obligation, however small it is. We hope parents support us in reinforcing this message."
Financial circumstances should not affect students' progress and development
MOE explained that students from lower-income families can apply for financial assistance that covers the remaining miscellaneous fees that they have to pay as well as uniforms, textbooks, transport and school meals.
In this case, MOE had sent reminders to the parents who did not pay miscellaneous fees for the past two years.
Adding on to that, the parents did not put in any application for MOE or school-based financial assistance, which would have covered all the costs.
MOE clarified that the student can still apply for secondary schools with the photocopied results slip and will progress like all other students as opposed to what Goh's post implied.
"The priority of our educators and our institutions is to ensure that students grow and can fulfil their potential, and we should not allow financial circumstances to become an impediment to their progress and development."
Top photo from Gilbert Goh/Facebook
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