09 November 2018
Singapore’s Direct Schools Admission scheme has been revised and improved in order to give students from disadvantaged families a better chance at getting into the schools of their choice, on their own merit.
The Ministry of Education has allowed all schools to increase their intake through the scheme.
Additionally, schools have also discontinued the general ability test and high ability selection test. Previously, those tests were meant for students who applied for academic programmes under the DSA.
And to top it off, students do not need to pay any fee for the applications, which are done through a centralised portal. Previously, some schools charged a fee ranging from S$20 to S$50 for each application because they deploy external resources — such as manpower — to conduct assessments.
As a result of these revisions, more students secured places in secondary schools through the Direct School Admission exercise this year. This year, 3,000 students secured places, up from 2,500 last year.
Critics have long pointed out that the scheme — introduced in 2004 — has deviated from its original objective of recognising and admitting students based on talents in areas such as sports and arts instead of just superior academic potential.
Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah admitted that students from well-off families are in a better position to take advantage of the Direct School Admission scheme, and that affluent parents have been gaming the system by sending their children to a shadow network of preparatory schools.
Ms Indranee said that the latest refinements to the DSA scheme aim to “close the gap”.