I REFER to the letter, "Review bonus-point criteria for admission to junior colleges" (my paper, March 25).
The letter pointed out that the awarding of bonus points according to certain criteria, which better students' chances of entering a junior college (JC) of their choice, is not completely fair.
However, the criteria based on affiliation and first-language scores are justified, as they are based on merit.
FIRST-LANGUAGE-SCORES CRITERION Students who score A1 to C6 in both their first languages - that is, English and a higher mother tongue (HMT) - stand to get two bonus points.
These points awarded to HMT students are not undeserved.
Firstly, pupils have to do very well in their mother tongue in PSLE in order to qualify for HMT.
Secondly, HMT students have to cope with the subject's demands. They have to take additional papers (Paper 1, Paper 2 and Paper 3, which is the oral-communication paper) during the O levels.
Higher Chinese students have to take the O-level Chinese exam at the end of Secondary 3, and the O-level HMT at the end of Sec 4, while their peers do not need to handle such demands.
HMT is not an easy subject, so it is fair that the Ministry of Education (MOE) awards bonus points to students that work hard and score well in HMT.
Students from feeder schools who choose affiliated JCs as first or second choices are given two bonus points.
Those secondary schools that are affiliated to prestigious JCs usually have high PSLE T-score cut-off points.
Pupils have to work hard to enter the secondary schools. In the feeder secondary schools, the students also work hard, and deserve their bonus points.
If MOE considers doing away with the two criteria, then the bonus-point system may not be useful any more.
The letter writer pointed out that it is fair for students who score good co-curricular activity (CCA) grades to get a maximum of two bonus points.
However, all students participate in CCAs, and most can get a good CCA grade.
Since the majority can get the bonus points, there will be no difference whether students get the points or not.
MR SEAN LIM
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