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The Raffles Thru-train by Chia Yan Min

The Raffles Thru-train If you have been reading the newspapers lately, your attention would probably have been drawn to the articles about the Raffles through-train, which involves students from RI and RGS continuing on to RJC without taking their O-levels. This programme, if approved by the MOE, will be implemented two years from now. Which means that it will impact the Sec 3s of 2004, a.k.a. my batch.

Most people would be elated if the O-levels were scrapped. It would mean no more mugging, no more extra lessons, basically no more stress in Sec 4. It would mean that one could go on to a premiere junior college without having to take a placement exam. Of course, from this perspective, the through train takes on a very positive light.

But I beg to differ. No doubt there would be no stress in Sec 4 if the O-levels were scrapped. But students, when faced with the prospect of NOT having a national exam to mug for, become complacent. They stop studying, thinking that since there's nothing to study for, there is no need to do revision. Their grades drop, and by the end of Sec 4, they might not do as well as they would have if they had taken the O-levels. Gloomy prospect? Also a highly possible one.

Also, if students begin to slack and fall behind in their work, they will probably not be up to RJC standard, RJC being one of Singapore's premiere junior colleges. Yet, they are automatically promoted there without any prerequisites other than being from RGS or RI. Taking in such students will definitely pull down RJC's standard. Will students from RGS and RI still take pride, then, in going there?

The Raffles family of schools has always, I feel, been elitist. These schools, being independent, usually have better facilities, bigger campuses, and better teachers. Rafflesians are also viewed by the general public as being "smarter", though whether this is really true remains to be seen. The through-train will further emphasize this elitism - Rafflesians are already viewed as being too proud for their own good (though in most cases this is untrue).

I am unsure about the sentiments of those who graduate from RGS and RI, but perhaps not everyone would want to go to RJC. For their own reasons, they might prefer another junior college. Under the through-train, they would not be able to go to the JC of their choice.

Perhaps the MOE should consider the above disadvantages before implementing the system. If it is implemented, I'm sure it will be happily received - by most. I, for one, am among the few who would rather take the O-levelsĄ­