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Plain-speaking or pain-speaking?

This is a public service announcement:

With regard to the Prime Minister’s recent FaceBook post on the need for plain speaking to further enhance and better improve the public’s understanding of Government policies, I intend to facilitate efforts by devoting a section of Bertha Harian to an intensive critique of public service pronouncements. This is part of an on-going move to bolster an active citizenry which must have access to full facts to reach conclusions without prejudice in a non-partisan manner in a society where constructive politics should be the norm.

In other words, I’m gonna try to do some idiot-proofing…starting with MOE’s reply in ST Forum page..

WE THANK Mr Neo Lin Chen for his feedback and the opportunity to clarify the matter (“Who sets P1 priority eligibility criteria?”; last Saturday) .

(Usual start to any kind of letter. Note that it is always good to “thank’’ people rather than use “We REFER’’ – more personal lah.)

The Ministry of Education (MOE) sets the Primary 1 (P1) Registration Framework.  (This is answer to the original letter’s headline – very straightforward…but what the heck is “framework’’?)

The framework takes into account the diverse interests and needs of parents and their children, and reflects a careful balance of various considerations, including siblings already studying in the school, parental or clan ties with the school, parent volunteer work, community involvement and proximity to the school.

(Urrrrrghhh….a framework means “everything’’ – note that this is the list of phases in the registration process with nice words such as “takes into account’’ and “a careful balance’’. Would you know what a careful balance entails? The word “framework’’ can be used for any, any thing…Singapore tax framework, funding framework, manpower framework. It’s an empty, meaningless word unless you really give full details of the framework.)  

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While MOE sets the P1 Registration Framework and policies, the relevant organisations have to endorse their respective members (such as community leaders, parent volunteers, clan/church members) for eligibility to register under the various registration phases.

(How does this answer the letter-writer’s question on who sets the eligibility criteria? So MOE has a “framework’’ and does this also mean it sets eligibility criteria BEFORE the groups endorse it? Or do the groups set their OWN eligibility criteria and ALSO endorse it? Because if so, I can always tweak criteria any time to suit anyone. Do I have to send the eligibility criteria to MOE to vet?)

The People’s Association has recently changed the criteria for endorsing its active community leaders to be eligible for the P1 Phase 2B registration, which will take effect from the 2016 P1 Registration Exercise.

(Re-write: The People’s Association has recently changed the eligibility criteria giving community leaders preference in primary school registration for their children. This will start from 2016. NOTE: would be good to say what the change is so readers have full information)

MOE has no objection to these changes.

(Does this mean MOE looked at PA’s criteria first and hence has “no objections? What about other groups like clan ties? If I were a clan/church leader and have a kid going into P1, I’ll tweak the rules to fit my kid…As for parental involvement, the school sets its own rules? NOTE: I am not saying schools shouldn’t have autonomy but the MOE should really answer the question on who sets eligibility criteria fully. So far, all I get is a “framework’’ and the rest about who sets criteria is really fuzzy)

To ensure open access (urrrgh. Ugly phrase) to all primary schools, MOE will be reserving 40 places for those without prior connection with the school before the start of this year’s P1 Registration Exercise.

(So is 40 places a change? An improvement?What percentage of Phase 2B does this form?)

It’s so difficult to re-write this plainly because the CONTENT isn’t plain to me. Verdict: Fail

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

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