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Video interviews, online auditions for DSA: Ong Ye Kung

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Applications for this year's Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme will be taken online, with schools having to observe safe distancing measures.

Schools will not have traditional selection methods like auditions, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament yesterday. Instead, they will conduct interviews through video-conferencing tools.

"To ensure an even playing field with a common setting and equipment for e-interviews, students will go to their own primary school to participate in the e-interviews," he said in response to Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who asked how school closures would affect the DSA application process.

The e-interviews will be from early July to mid-September, and will be spaced out to avoid inter-mingling of students, said Mr Ong.

E-auditions for arts talent, like singing, dancing or drama, could also be carried out. The timeline for accepting DSA applications is mid-May to early June, similar to previous years.

Mr Ong said the DSA scheme will try to take in as many students as it did last year. There were 3,500 students who successfully applied to secondary schools through DSA last year.

The scheme recognises talent in non-academic areas such as sports and the arts, and grants Primary 6 pupils places in secondary schools before they take the PSLE.

Mr Ong said about students on the DSA sports route: "Without selection trials and with the suspension of the National School Games, secondary schools will need to give more recognition to the student's talent, potential, passion and character through their school track record and information provided in the students' online applications."

In lieu of placements in a national competition, schools will look out for how students have shown dedication to their sport and training attitude.

"This is not entirely new, but if the circumstances this year force schools to re-evaluate their definition of a good sportsperson, I think it's not a bad outcome at all," said Mr Ong, adding that each school will decide how to evaluate students consistently and fairly.