MOE review of practice to withhold PSLE results slip to be done by Nov
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will complete a review of its practice to withhold result slips when school fees are not paid by November, when the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results are released.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday acknowledged that his ministry's current practice "may not be fully effective in urging all parents to pay miscellaneous fees".
Every year, about 2 per cent of the Primary 6 cohort are still accumulating arrears and did not apply for financial assistance from MOE, he said.
This works out to 645 students in 2019, he said in a written parliamentary reply to Dr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang) and Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten).
In a Facebook post last November that went viral, career counsellor and activist Gilbert Goh said he came across a parent whose daughter received a photocopy of her PSLE result slip.
The family had not paid $156 in school fees as they had financial problems.
At that time, the ministry said it was a "longstanding practice" to withhold original copies of result slips when school fees are defaulted, and that original certificates are not needed when applying for a place in secondary school.
Yesterday, Mr Ong said MOE will continue to "underscore the responsibilities of families to pay a small miscellaneous fee".
He noted that families pay only $6.50 a month out of pocket for miscellaneous fees for primary schools, with another $6.50 payable by Edusave.
He said withholding the original PSLE results slip is a last resort if parents still accumulate arrears, even after steps such as getting them to apply for financial help have been taken.
Schools are also sensitive when distributing the results slip and will make sure that everyone gets their results the same way, he added.
"But I accept the feedback that the child who receives a copy of his results slip instead of the original may feel awkward or embarrassed, through no fault of his.
"We do not want the children to bear responsibility for the arrears accumulated by their parents."
Mr Ong said the school had earlier reached out to the parents of the child in question and gave them an application and brochure for the MOE's Financial Assistance Scheme.
It covers not just the school and miscellaneous fees, but also meals, uniforms, textbooks and transport. The parents did not apply.
The student has since been successfully placed in a secondary school of her choice near her home, and she is now receiving assistance as her parents have applied for the scheme, said Mr Ong.