Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Release of N-level results

Today is the day my former class 4/3 recieve their N-levels results. I was there to see the happy (and some not so happy) faces. I'm quite pleased (and pleasantly surprised) by the large number of students that are eligible for Sec 5, though I'm mildly disappointed nobody got has all As....

To be frank, I'm quite new to the whole N-level structure and this year they have introduced another path for N-level graduates. Briefly, a N(A) student can either
  1. Promote to Sec 5 and take O-levels next year (aggregate 10 pts and below for best 3 subjects)
  2. Enter a Higher NITEC course (this is new) if they obtain an aggregate of 19 pts and below for EL, Maths and other 3 subjects).
  3. Enter a NITEC course in ITE.
  4. Repeat Sec 4N.

Obviously, choice 1 and 2 are reserved for students whom had done relatively well in their N-levels. The new path of direct entry to Higher NITEC comes about because quite a large proportion of Sec 5 students did not perform as well and was unable to qualify for JCs or polys. These Sec 5 students will then have to choose to go to NITEC or Higher NITEC courses, which they were given a chance a year ago. I.e. they have "waste" one year as compared to students that chose to go to Higher NITEC after Sec 4N.

And herein lies a problem. And frankly, is quite a big problem in my former school. Most of the Sce 5N students have an aggregate of 8-10 pts. Sure, they make the cut-off point for Sec 5 but can they make it in O-levels? If they fail to score 15 pts or less in their L1R4 for O-levels, their chance of entering a polytechnic is highly unlikely, which would mean they would see their classmates in ITE but a year behind.

There's also the stigma in entering ITE ('ITE for those cannot make it one lah!') and, perhaps even worse, the mindset that exam results are somewhat unpredictable like a lottery: try and perhaps I can make it. I do hope they do not apply for Sec 5 simply because they feel they can buck up and catch up with O-levels standards in a year's time. It's not a matter of feeling but you must have confidence and determination to walk this very challenging last part of the journey.

Also, I feel that choosing to enter ITE to NITEC/Higher NITEC courses may not be such a bad idea at all. I try and draw analogy using DotA, a game I started picking up recently....

Imagine you're a STRENGTH character, like Sven, the Rogue Knight . Since you're a STRENGTH character, you need items that will boost your strength attributes so you can grow more powerful. In other words, you need the right stuff to develop properly.

Unfortunately, the current syllabus/curriculum in secondary schools are more suitable to develop INTEL characters, like Lina Inverse, the Slayer . Perhaps the N and O levels are testing the INTEL abilities and the school gives you items that will boost your intelligence attributes. So if you're an INTEL character, you will do well and excel in the tests and exams. If you're a STRENGTH character, then you may feel very miserable in some of the subjects or the learning style. Worst still, you get poor results in exams, because you were not developing your correct attributes!

Er...so coming back to reality, getting not so good results in your N-levels may mean that you could be a Rogue Knight in a school for sorceress and wizards. If you choose to remain in this school for 1 more year in Sec 5, you may not benefit at all. However, if you choose to go ITE, you will be able to choose courses that fit your needs, interests and attributes. The courses in ITE is such that all modules/subjects you take are relevant for you to obtain your certificate. E.g. you will not need to take history in an Engineering course, or take Maths in a hairdressing course. Hence you become a Rogue Knight in a martial art school, where you could shine and develop your full potential. Hope I'm making sense...

Well, irregardless of your choice, I wish the best for my students and has only this last advice: Be the best that you can be, not what you think you should be.