Singapore

PSLE results slip withheld over unpaid fees: MOE clarifies

Ministry explains why pupil's original results slip was held back because of school fees arrears

Withholding the original Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results slip because of school fee arrears is a "longstanding practice", the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Tuesday.

It was responding to a Facebook post by career counsellor and activist Gilbert Goh, 58, which has been circulating online.

Mr Goh had said on Monday that he knew a parent whose daughter received a photocopy of her PSLE results but not the original slip. Due to financial reasons, the family had not paid $156 in school fees.

PSLE results were released last Thursday.

In response to queries, MOE said: "In the case highlighted by the Facebook posts, the parents did not pay miscellaneous fees for two years despite several reminders and did not put in any application for MOE or school-based financial assistance, which would have covered all the costs.

"The child will still receive a copy of the results, just not the original results slip, and she can still apply for secondary schools and will progress like all students."

MOE's response clarifies that the original certificate is not needed when applying for a secondary school place.

Mr Goh's post has received more than 3,000 shares and 1,000 comments. It was also later quoted by former presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian.

The MOE spokesman said the issue is "not about recovering the money", adding the ministry's funding for each primary school pupil comes to $12,000 a year, and the pupil pays only $13 in miscellaneous fees a month.

Those from lower-income families can apply for financial assistance, which covers miscellaneous fees, uniforms, textbooks, transport and school meals.

"If it is about money, then the easier solution would be to reduce subsidies and financial assistance," said the ministry.

"MOE's consideration stems from the underlying principle that notwithstanding the fact that the cost of education is almost entirely publicly funded, we should still play our part in paying a small fee, and it is not right to ignore that obligation, however small it is. We hope parents support us in reinforcing this message."

It added: "The priority of our educators and our institutions is to ensure that students grow and can fulfil their potential, and we should not allow financial circumstances to become an impediment to their progress and development. Our educators, parents and members of public will have to decide whether MOE's action is fair and educationally sound and what the lesson of this teachable moment for our children is."

DEMORALISING

When contacted, Mr Goh said: "It can be quite demoralising for children, especially when they compare themselves to their peers.

"I don't blame the MOE. There is a lot of help for needy families through financial assistance, and school fees are mostly free, but sometimes there are families who fall through the cracks.

"Sometimes, when people are down, they may pay only outstanding bills that they think are more essential, like electricity bills, phone bills. So school fees could be their lowest priority, and that can build up when they ignore them."

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