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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review selection process of high performing schools

I appreciate the response from the Education Ministry regarding the selection criteria for High Performing Schools (HPS), “A fairly good way to select choice schools” (The Star, Feb 21).

However, the letter does not adequately address the concerns and grouses raised about being fair and equal. Selection based on “towering personalities, awards received, networking programmes and benchmarking”, among others, is vaguely outlined and clearly rules out schools that are without the proper amenities and funding.

As it is, there already is such a wide disparity among schools.

It would seem fairer if performance is evaluated as a pro­cess and not seen and measured as an end-product. This means it should be tracked over a speci­fied period of time and only then will we truly see how well the school has performed or improved.

Measuring performance based on status quo will definitely and immediately put a lot of schools at a disadvantage. The ministry reported that of the 14 secondary schools selected, 10 are residential schools, which is hardly surprising.

Given the fact that secondary schools clearly outnumber residential schools, it goes to show how lopsided the picture is. Nobody is begrudging these schools their awards but that does not mean all is well with the selection process.

Personally, I feel residential schools are in a league of their own and should not be grouped with other schools for this purpose. And saying that there will be 80 more HPS in 2012 does not really placate because that is not the issue at hand.

I hope the ministry will invest more thought into this exercise and give due consideration to the concerns raised, while scrutinising the validity of suggestions given.

Do not let a lack of foresight derail good intentions and initiatives. Examine objectively whether the end justifies the means.

The ministry may mean well but its purpose is defeated if the exercise leaves teachers and schools demoralised or disgruntled by the selection process. After all, everyone wants what is best for our schools.



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