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News Reports

A LEAP forward or just doing LAPS?

 I was conducting a workshop yesterday and our attention turned to news reports on the Education ministry’s move to change the point-scoring system for secondary school co-curricular activities. Now, this is apparently very important as the grades will count towards entry into polytechnics and junior colleges.

Frankly, the newspapers made pretty much of a hash of it. If this was intended for secondary school students and their parents to read, they aren’t going to get very far. Nor is checking the ministry’s website for its original press statement going to help.

In the unique language of MOE, which revolves on “frameworks” and the development of a “holistic and well-rounded individual”, the new scoring system is supposed to do just that: develop a holistic and well-round individual. The current system awarded achievers and leaders, not so much the volunteers and do-gooders who put in effort.

It was also too “school-oriented’’. Leadership positions in school counted for more than leading projects out of school. In fact, students who do good work outside school, in the community and charity sectors, for example, weren’t recognised. The system should recognise, in the language of MOE, “self-leadership’’.

The new scoring system was a “rebalance’’ as the MOE put it. That’s an interesting point. And it sounds good.

MOE calls the system LEAPS, which stands for leadership, enrichment, achievement and participation scheme. The revised scheme is a very imaginative LEAPS 2.0. Wags suggested that it should be LAPS, because enrichment will be dropped as a category. What’s enrichment: seminars and such like which led us to think that this is good because only the more academic types would prefer to attend seminars. And they would have to be nominated too. So… it still sounds good.

Like so many things these days, scoring isn’t in points but in bands, probably to reduce competitiveness and stress levels.  So it’s just whether the student did Fair, Good and Excellent. Apparently, there is no such thing as Fail. You have to be all rounder in all three parts of LAP to make the Excellent grade – although you can be a so-so performer. If you’re great or have time for only one thing – like representing your school or country in competitions, you’re not going to score as highly as the average all-rounder. That is going by the example given by MOE to ST published yesterday.

Now, that is when the class paused to think.

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Should it really be the case that an extremely talented person with no time for community service is ranked lower than an average all-rounder with time for community service? Okay, the scoring difference is not big at all. You either get 1 or 2 points. But it apparently means a lot to “borderline’’ cases who want to enter the higher level institutions or are aiming to enrol in competitive courses.

Is this compassionate meritocracy in action?

The class came up with this answer: MOE gave the wrong examples.

It was in the followup article today that you get a better idea of what the change means for students. It means that you don’t have to force yourself to join a CCA that can “score’’ because there is no scoring system. It means you can just join the CCA you love, rather than view your CCA as yet another subject to get good grades in.   

Now why didn’t the MOE just say it like that?

Written By

An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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