S M Ong: ‘More heavier’ in Helen and Ivan PSLE question? MOE: No weigh!
Helen and Ivan have a lot to answer for. Because of them, children cried, parents complained and everyone memed.
This year's Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) mathematics paper was reportedly so brutal that you almost expect to win 45.6 billion Korean won (S$51.5 million) in cash after surviving it.
But instead of the deadly games in Squid Game, 12-year-olds taking the exam apparently had to overcome such merciless questions like this one:
"Helen and Ivan had the same number of coins.
"Helen had a number of 50-cent coins and 64 20-cent coins. Helen's coins had a total mass of 1.134kg. Ivan had a number of 50-cent coins and 104 20-cent coins.
"(a) Who has more money in coins and by how much?
"(b) Given that each 50-cent coin is 2.7g more heavier than a 20-cent coin, what is the mass of Ivan's coins in kilograms?"
No, it wasn't the terrible English of "more heavier" that reduced the kids to tears.
Maybe the Ministry of Education (MOE) hired Phua Chu Kang to set the exam after he finished shooting the Covid-19 videos and Shopee ads.
The question went so viral that all sorts of organisations jumped on the trendwagon by creating memes about what Helen and Ivan did or should do with all those coins.
OCBC Bank posted: "They brought their coins to an OCBC New ATM and banked them in for free. The End."
Singapore General Hospital: "They both washed their hands thoroughly with soap after they finished counting the coins. Be like Helen and Ivan."
Ministry of Finance: "We encourage Helen and Ivan to be prudent and save these coins for a rainy day."
DBS: "As they were counting their coins, Jacob bought the last chicken wing using DBS PayLah!"
Public Libraries Singapore: "It doesn't matter who has more money because borrowing books from the library is free. You can even do it from home on the NLB (National Library Board) Mobile app (and it'll be 0kg). The end."
Masjid Ahmad Ibrahim changed the names to Halid and Iman and added: "They brought their coins to Masjid Ahmad Ibrahim and donated them sincerely for the sake of Allah.
"How many rewards will Allah give to them?
"Allah will manifold the reward of the charity giver, as mentioned in the Quran (Al Hadid: 18). 'Verily those who give alms - be they men or women - and give Allah a beautiful loan shall be repaid after increasing it many times; and theirs shall be a generous reward.'
"PS: you can also donate via QR code."
Ikea simply posted a picture of a weighing scale with the caption: "You're welcome".
Even MOE weighed in (so to speak), posting on social media: "We met up with Helen and Ivan this week to solve their weighty money issue. Some found it challenging while others found it familiar from work they had done in class before.
"Like every year, the examination paper has a balanced spread of test items of varying difficulties ranging from easy, moderate to challenging questions. We would like to assure parents that this year's paper was set to comparable standards (to) past years' papers...
"Some parents also mentioned that the Helen and Ivan question included the phrase 'more heavier', which is grammatically incorrect. We would like to clarify that the question in the PSLE paper did not use this phrase."
So MOE didn't hire PCK after all. He must be too busy telling people to get vaxxed.
Still, the ministry can't deny that Helen and Ivan walking around with all that loose change isn't exactly the most relatable of scenarios.
So here are a few proposed questions for next year's PSLE to reflect the new normal:
Last Wednesday, the Ministry of Health reported a total of 3,562 new Covid-19 cases in the community and migrant worker dormitories. If the number also came in second in the 4D draw that day, how much do you bet on the number of new local cases the next day?
On Saturday, Singapore announced that those who are fully vaccinated can travel to eight more countries: Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Britain and the US. How soon after did the Singapore Airlines website crash?
Of Singapore's population, 83 per cent have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccines and 85 per cent have received at least one dose. How many who refuse to be vaccinated will eventually take ivermectin because their "church friends" in Telegram chat groups tell them to?
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks for 25 minutes on the Covid-19 situation using 3,063 words. How many times does he drink from his magic cup?
Helen and Ivan are dating. She is vaccinated. He is not and doesn't want to be. From Wednesday, only those who are vaccinated will be allowed to enter malls and dine in (with a one-week grace period for malls). How long before Helen finds a new boyfriend? Oh, Ivan is also a cheapskate who always seems to have only coins with him.