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  1. #7685
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    Default Singapore '3rd-best city in world for uni students'

    Published on Nov 21, 2013
    7:54 AM



    Singapore has jumped nine places to become the world's third-best city and remained the best in Asia for university students, according to an annual ranking exercise by a London-based consultancy. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA


    Singapore has jumped nine places to become the world's third-best city and remained the best in Asia for university students, according to an annual ranking exercise by a London-based consultancy.

    The findings were unveiled yesterday by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), which is best known for its global rankings of top universities.

    Singapore was ahead of cities in the region such as Sydney and Hong Kong but lost out to Paris and London, which took first and second place respectively.

    This is the second year that the exercise was conducted. In the inaugural exercise last year, Singapore was placed 12th.

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    Default Hacking is "nothing short of terrorism" if it endangers lives: Shanmugam

    Published on Nov 20, 2013
    7:21 PM




    Hacking of websites is "nothing short of terrorism" and such acts should hence be taken seriously, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said on Wednesday. -- FILE PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN


    By Tham Yuen-c

    Hacking of websites is "nothing short of terrorism" when it endangers peoples' lives, and such acts should hence be taken seriously, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said on Wednesday.

    Addressing some 75 SIM Global Education students at a dialogue at Singapore Institute of Management, he was responding to a question from the floor on the recent defacement of government websites.

    Painting a picture of how hacking could cause harm, the minister said that if hackers shut down the power grid, doctors in hospitals and air-traffic controllers might be prevented from doing their work, and lives could be lost.

    He also cited the example of the Singapore Art Museum, which announced earlier on Wednesday that the email addresses and phone numbers of as many as 4,000 people from its website was recently illegally published and uploaded to a New Zealand-based server.

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    Default MTI upgrades full year growth forecast as external conditions improve



    TODAY file photo


    The Govt expects the economy to grow by 3.5% to 4% this year, and by 2% to 4% in 2014


    By Wong Wei Han
    29 min 54 sec ago


    SINGAPORE — The Government has hiked up the forecast for full year growth this year to 3.5 to 4 per cent, up from an earlier official forecast of 2.5 to 3.5 per cent.

    Next year, the economy will likely grow between 2 to 4 per cent on-year, barring downside risks such as uncertainties over the tapering of quantitative easing in the US, and China’s slowdown amid economic restructuring, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said today (Nov 21).

    Latest data by the MTI showed that Singapore’s economy expanded by 5.8 per cent on-year in the third quarter, higher than the 4.4 per cent growth in the previous quarter.

    The stronger quarterly growth came on the back of improved performance by the manufacturing sector, which saw a 5.5 per cent on-year growth following second quarter’s 1.3 per cent expansion. “The improvement was due to stronger growth in the electronics cluster and a sharp rebound in the transport engineering cluster,” the MTI said.

    In other sectors, wholesale and retail trade also grew a stronger 7.9 per cent on-year compared to 5.5 per cent previously, supported mainly by robust trade flows to Greater China. Transportation and storage also expanded by 5.4 per cent on-year.

    But growth in the key finance and insurance sector eased to 10.5 per cent on-year, down from 13.7 per cent in quarter two as market volatilities hit sentiments. The construction sector also grew slower at 5.3 per cent on-year.

    Towards the year-end the MTI expects economy to grow at a pace similar to the third quarter, as global conditions continue to improve and support the Republic’s externally-oriented sectors.

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    Default More than 100 submissions from the public in support of Unesco heritage site bid

    Published on Nov 20, 2013
    2:16 PM




    More than 100 submissions from the public have been received in Singapore's bid to put the 154-year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens (above) on the Unesco World Heritage Site list. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE


    By Poon Chian Hui

    More than 100 submissions from the public have been received in Singapore's bid to put the 154-year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens on the Unesco World Heritage Site list.

    The National Heritage Board and National Parks Board said most comments are either expressions of support for the nomination, or memories of time spent at the Gardens.

    The public was invited to submit feedback since Sept 11.

    The feedback will be incorporated, where possible, into the nomination dossier that will be submitted to Unesco by Feb 1 next year, said the two boards in a statement on Wednesday.

    A site management plan for the next five years was also made public. It includes new features such as a Foliage Garden at the Bukit Timah side which houses more than 300 species of plants.

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    Default New masterplan for pre-school teachers offers incentives to train and upgrade skills

    Published on Nov 20, 2013
    9:37 AM



    Incentives, including bonuses, to encourage pre-school teachers to continue training and upgrading are among features that will be introduced under a new masterplan that was announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM


    By Priscilla Goy

    Incentives, including bonuses, to encourage pre-school teachers to continue training and upgrading
    are among features that will be introduced under a new masterplan that was announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday.

    The new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Masterplan will be a structured roadmap outlining key responsibilities for teachers and supervisors or principals. Staff would have to complete specified courses to move ahead in the teaching and leadership pathways of the roadmap, and the authorities will set out guidelines on the recommended amount of CPD training for each teacher per year.

    Incentives will be given to those who meet the recommended amount of CPD training. This could include bonuses tied to their CPD training and expanded job roles.

    Mr Chan, speaking at the Early Childhood Conference at the Singapore Expo, said the CPD Masterplan is part of the manpower strategies to attract and retain pre-school professionals, and to raise the quality of programmes.

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    Default Tampines Polyclinic officially reopens after revamp

    Published on Nov 20, 2013
    10:32 AM


    The largest Family Physician Clinic is based here at Singhealth's Tampines Polyclinic, which re-opened for business on Wednesday after a five-month revamp. -- ST PHOTO: RACHEL TAN






    • http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st.../tamp3301e.jpg
      Armrests are provided on all seats, while the elderly have priority seating at Singhealth's Tampines Polyclinic, which re-opened for business on Wednesday after a five-month revamp.-- ST PHOTO: RACHEL TAN



      http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st.../tamp3302e.jpg
      Consultation room numbers are now larger, to improve visibility, at Singhealth's Tampines Polyclinic, which re-opened for business on Wednesday after a five-month revamp. -- ST PHOTO: RACHEL TAN



      http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st.../tamp3303e.jpg
      The largest Family Physician Clinic is based here at Singhealth's Tampines Polyclinic, which re-opened for business on Wednesday after a five-month revamp. -- ST PHOTO: RACHEL TAN



      By Rachel Tan
      After a five-month revamp, Singhealth's Tampines Polyclinic re-opened for business. The polyclinic now includes age-friendly features and an Integrated Academic Family Medicine Centre.

      There is also a room for a physiotherapy sessions and a Health Wellness Clinic, which provides mental health care for mild to moderate anxiety or depression.

      To cater to an aging population, the 23-year-old clinic also has added features like low ramps and service counters, handrails along the main corridors and large visual guides and signs.

      "The age-friendly features are built to provide our patients easier access to healthcare in a safe and conducive environment," said Dr Paul Goh, clinic director of of the polyclinic. Health Minister, Gan Kim Yong, was the guest-of-honour at the opening.

  7. #7691
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    Default Lessons from Obamacare for Singapore






    By Eric Finkelstein -
    18 November

    As a health economist who lived in the United States until I moved to Singapore four years ago, I am often asked how the Singapore health system compares to America’s, especially with both embarking on healthcare reform.

    One of the ideas that I stress in my comparative health systems course is that a country’s health system typically reflects the political ideologies that it was founded upon. However, as countries grow wealthier, concerns over access and equity tend to take on a more dominant role in shaping the healthcare system.

    Let’s take the US firstThe US is a capitalistic society. When health insurance first took hold after World War II, it was offered by private employers as a way to attract and retain workers in a period when both labour and cash were scarce.

    The government soon recognised the benefits of private health insurance and the employment-based model of risk pooling. It offered employers tax breaks for providing health insurance to their employees and dependents. Today, it is this tax break that keeps employers in the health insurance business and it is why the majority of full-time employees have employment-based health insurance.
    MANY AT RISK
    Although it has many advantages, this model left a large percentage of the US population at risk from high medical costs, such as the elderly and those out of the labour market. The latter includes many recent college graduates who have yet to find jobs, the unemployed, the self-employed and those who work for small businesses, which do not offer insurance.

    Efforts to find a private-sector solution to insure these groups failed because the premiums that insurers required to insure these high-risk groups were greater than what many were willing or able to afford.

    In 1965, after much debate, the US Congress passed legislation that created the Medicare and Medicaid programmes that respectively provide public insurance for the elderly and the disabled, and for low-income households. Over the past 48 years, these programmes have been expanded until coverage is near universal for those who qualify. This is about 30 per cent of the US population. In fact, although most people consider the US healthcare system to be a private insurance model, Medicare and Medicaid are responsible for roughly half of annual US medical expenditures.
    SINGAPORE: MORE BANG FOR THE BUCK
    Now let’s look at Singapore. Since its creation, it has put individual and family responsibility first, with government assistance provided on an as-needed basis.

    The healthcare system clearly reflects this. The Medisave system of forced savings and family-based risk-pooling requires individuals to weigh the costs and benefits of treatment, as they are ultimately spending their own or a family member’s health savings.

    However, as with the US system, it also leaves many individuals at risk for high medical costs. This includes low-wage earners whose Medisave account grows less slowly, and those out of the labour market, who often do not have a Medisave account.

    To address this, the Government created MediShield (whose basic plan is like a catastrophic insurance plan), need-based subsidies, and Medifund as the payer of last resort. These programmes provide greater healthcare access for citizens than what could be afforded through Medisave alone.

    Crucially, these programmes helped to contain cost. Herein lies the major difference between the Singapore and US systems.

    In the US, private insurance has historically provided fairly comprehensive coverage, and, as noted above, Medicare and Medicaid provide near universal access to those who qualify. In contrast, in Singapore, individuals remain the main payers for health services. There are caps and limitations on claims on Medisave and MediShield, while Medifund serves primarily as a safety net for the needy.

    Just how do these differences play out in real life? When one compares common metrics of health system effectiveness, such as infant mortality rates and life expectancy, Singapore outranks the US and is among the best in the world in both categories. Yet, Singapore is able to spend less on healthcare than the US.

    In the US, government health expenditures are roughly half the total spending. In Singapore, government health expenditures are less than a third. Moreover, total expenditures dedicated to health spending are only 4 per cent of gross domestic product in Singapore, much less than the 18 per cent that the US government spends.

    In other words, Singapore gets more “bang for its buck”. This is because of greater reliance on cost sharing and coverage limits.
    HOW TO WIDEN ACCESS?
    So let’s fast forward to today’s healthcare reform efforts. Contrary to what you might expect, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is commonly termed, is not about cost control or reining in government funding. It is about the push for greater access and health equity that all developed countries inevitably face.

    It primarily targets the roughly 50 million Americans who are too young for Medicare, not poor enough for Medicaid, and for a myriad of reasons — not the least of which is the persistently high rate of unemployment by US standards — do not have private insurance.

    Without reform, these individuals are at significant financial risk should they require high-cost medical treatments. Obamacare, by mandating that all individuals purchase health insurance or face a financial penalty, is expected to alleviate this problem.

    Singapore’s health-reform effort is also about promoting greater access to health services and greater health equity. The similarities do not end there: Singapore plans to ensure universality of MediShield through an expanded programme termed MediShield Life.

    This expansion has similarities to the Obamacare mandate, as it will require individuals to purchase a MediShield plan with a pre-defined benefit package and, like the US plan, give subsidies to those who cannot afford it.

    It will also offer more benefits and fewer restrictions; the Government has already announced a lifting of several of the caps and has been slowly expanding MediShield to cover some outpatient and disease management services. This will mean greater health equity. However, the challenge is that greater health equity will mean greater costs.

    The formation of the MediShield Life Review Committee is a sure sign that the Singapore Government recognises this reality and is taking it seriously.

    The committee’s mandate to review the MediShield Life scheme and make recommendations on how to best balance between ensuring adequate insurance protection for all Singaporeans for life and maintaining premium affordability is an important discussion that Singaporeans must engage in.

    As the push for expanded coverage continues, it is worth pausing to make sure that any expansions will meet the desired objectives, yet at a reasonable increase in costs.

    Singapore does not want to be in the unenviable position of the US, with both high costs and significant health inequities.



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Eric Finkelstein is Director of the Lien Centre for Palliative Care and Professor, Health Services & Systems Research Programme, at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.

  8. #7692
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    Default New $15m fund to develop 3-D printing technologies

    Published on Nov 22, 2013
    10:19 AM


    By Hoe Pei Shan

    A new $15 million programme to develop additive manufacturing - or 3-D printing - technologies was launched Friday morning by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

    3-D printing, refers to the precise process of joining materials layer upon layer to make actual objects from 3-D model data, making it simpler to produce complex parts and lowering costs due to the technology's ability to mass customise.

    The programme aims to support and grow the manufacturing sector in Singapore, which constituted 20 per cent of the country's gross domestic product in 2012. Key focuses would be on the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, marine and precision engineering industries, which are increasingly requiring more complex and advanced production.

    The $15 million will be split into six projects, three each to be helmed by the Nanyang Technological Institute and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, the research institute of A*Star. The funding would go towards the procurement of new 3-D printing machinery and support systems, scheduled to be delivered by the start of next year.

  9. #7693
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    Default Car-free zones within Civic District mulled by URA



    TODAY file photo

    Roads in vicinity of Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, Asian Civilisation Museum to close to vehicular traffic in phase

    By Sumita Sreedharan
    1 hour 4 min ago


    SINGAPORE — Street level connectivity will be improved with the pedestrianisation of some roads, such as Empress Place, within the Civic District. The move is aimed at creating bigger civic open spaces and allowing pedestrians to stroll freely in a car-free environment.

    This was announced by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) this morning (Nov 22) as part of their Draft Master Plan 2013.

    First on the list to be pedestrianised is Empress Place, a road that sits between the Asian Civilisation Museum and the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. The aim of the move is to integrate the buildings in the vicinity into a seamless park-like setting.

    Other roads in the area such as St Andrew’s Road, Connaught Drive, Fullerton Road and Parliament Place, which sit between the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall and the Singapore Cricket Club, could soon follow suit.

    URA said they would be exploring the options of closing these roads to cars on a temporary basis for activities and events. They will also study the possibility of permitting only tour buses, public buses and pedestrians on these roads in the future.

    The agency also said that it would take a “phased approach” to the implementation of the car-free zones and the opinions of local stakeholders and the public will be taken into consideration before the roads are permanently pedestrianised in the long-term.

    Parks in the Civic District will also get a make-over to include more public seating, night lighting and better signage to help the public navigate the area.

    To allow people to get closer to the waterfront, the bollards along the promenade of Esplanade Park will be removed and replaced with stepped plazas and “an urban beach”.

    The enhancement of these parks are expected to be completed by 2015.

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    Default SAF Music and Drama Company still entertaining after 40 years

    Music and Drama Company puts on dazzling show to mark anniversary



    Published on Nov 22, 2013
    9:29 AM




    The Military Police Command Silent Precision Drill Squad perform with their drill rifles on Thursday, Nov 21, 2013. They were part of the two hour performance to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces Music and Drama Company. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM


    By Kash Cheong

    The Singapore Armed Forces Music and Drama Company (SAF MDC) put on a dazzling performance over two hours to celebrate its 40th anniversary yesterday.

    In the show entitled "40 Stories: Saluting NSmen", home-grown talents such as jazz musician Jeremy Monteiro and Singapore idol winner Sezairi Sezali entertained the 1,600-strong audience with a vibrant repertoire of song and dance items.

    Many of the performers were illustrious names of the MDC alumni, such as actor-director Jack Neo, who is best known for hit movies like Ah Boys To Men.

    Neo joined the army as a regular serviceman more than 30 years ago and was posted to the MDC, where he honed his performing skills.

  11. #7695
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    Default All pupils can continue education in a good school regardless of PSLE results: PM

    Published on Nov 21, 2013
    10:20 PM




    Regardless of how a child performs at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), he will be able to continue his education in a good school, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on Thursday, Nov 21, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: MARK CHEONG


    Regardless of how a child performs at the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), he will be able to continue his education in a good school, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday.

    In a Facebook post ahead of the release of the PSLE results on Friday, Mr Lee said: "All the best to students receiving their PSLE results tomorrow! Whatever your results, I am confident you can continue your education in a good school, with dedicated teachers who will help you achieve your best."

    He added that it is also important for the young to pursue their interests, besides striving for academic excellence. "Above all, I hope you will grow in resilience, drive and determination. For when all is said and done, these will help you succeed in life."

    On Thursday, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat also urged parents not to overly focus on the results of their children. "When the results are out, please do remember not to judge your own child, or others' children, by a number," he said in a Facebook post.

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    Default Don't judge kids by their PSLE scores: Heng Swee Keat

    Published on Nov 21, 2013
    5:21 PM




    Minister for Education, Heng Swee Keat, 50, at the 5th Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council Meeting at Shangri-la Hotel Singapore, Island Ballroom. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO


    By Linette Lai

    It's not about the exam results, but the journey of learning, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat in a Facebook post on Thursday afternoon, ahead of the release of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results on Friday.

    "When the results are out, please do remember not to judge your own child, or others' children, by a number," he said in the post. "I believe strongly that the PSLE marks the end of just one stage of a long and hopefully rich education journey, and just one stage of an even longer and fuller lifetime of learning. It is not healthy for the children if we put undue pressure on them over one exam."

    The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced on Tuesday that the highest and lowest PSLE aggregate scores will not be released this year so that pupils would focus on their own achievements holistically. These scores have been printed on result slips, along with the pupil's own aggregate score, since 1982.

    The decision to not disclose the highest and lowest scores comes a year after MOE decided not to name the top scorers in each cohort.
    In August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also annouced that the PSLE aggregate scores will be replaced by wider grade bands, similar to those used in the O- and A-level examinations.

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    Default Changi Airport's traffic jumps 3.2% to 4.4 million

    Published on Nov 21, 2013
    1:45 PM



    Air traffic controllers work inside the iconic Changi Airport control tower. Changi Airport handled 4.41 million passengers in October, a 3.2 per cent jump from the same month a year ago. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND LIM


    By Karamjit Kaur

    Changi Airport handled 4.41 million passengers in October, a 3.2 per cent jump from the same month a year ago.

    Aircraft landings and takeoffs increased by a higher 6.7 per cent to 29,500, on the back on low-cost carriers mounting more flights.

    The cargo market stayed weak with a total of 157,400 tonnes handled in October. This was 1.8 per cent more than a year ago, Changi Airport Group said on Thursday.

    Among Changi Airport's top 10 country markets, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia registered double-digit traffic growth for the month, the airport said.

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    Default Golden Horse: Anthony Chen wins Best New Director

    Published on Nov 23, 2013
    10:07 PM




    Homegrown director Anthony Chen, 29, has been named Best New Director at the Golden Horse Awards. -- PHOTO: AFP


    By Kezia Toh

    Singaporean director Anthony Chen, 29, won Best New Director at the Golden Horse Awards on Saturday night.

    However, before he accepted the award for his debut feature Ilo Ilo at the prestigious show in Taipei, he celebrated prematurely when he thought the presenters had called out his name as winner. They were only reading out the list of nominees again.

    Stepping on stage to finally collect his award from director John Woo and veteran actor Ti Lung, he quipped: "So embarrassing."

    Subsequently, he thanked his cast and alma mater, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, where he graduated from the School of Film and Media Studies; and dedicated the award to his wife Rachel Yang, 31.

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    Default Golden Horse: Anthony Chen also wins Best Original Screenplay

    Published on Nov 23, 2013
    10:26 PM


    By Kezia Toh

    Director Anthony Chen, 29, picked up his second award for Ilo Ilo at the Golden Horse Awards on Saturday night for Best Original Screenplay.

    It added to the film's haul of Best New Director, which Chen collected earlier, and Best Supporting Actress for Yeo Yann Yann, 36.

    Chen delivered an emotional speech, at one point turning his face from the audience to gather his thoughts. "I've forgotten what I wanted to say," he said, choking.

    He said that writing the screenplay for the film took two years, a "very difficult" process. During this period, he was told that Ilo Ilo would not be successful at the box office.

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    Default Orchard Road lights up for Christmas - in 'safer' colours

    Organisers avoid traffic light colours so motorists will not get confused



    Published on Nov 23, 2013
    9:52 AM





    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...3_3934688e.jpg
    Orchard Road decked out for Christmas in 2008. This year’s light-up, themed Christmas on A Great Street, will be turned on tonight and run till Jan 5. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA, ALPHONSUS CHERN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...Q_3934690e.jpg
    Orchard Road lit up with blue and white decorations on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013, during a test run of the lights. This year’s light-up, themed Christmas on A Great Street, will be turned on tonight and run till Jan 5. -- ST PHOTOS: CAROLINE CHIA, ALPHONSUS CHERN


    By Jermyn Chow

    Green, red and gold may be traditional Christmas colours, but they are also similar to the ones on traffic lights.

    Given that this could lead to motorists confusing yuletide decorations with traffic signals, the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) has decided, from this year, to avoid the use of these colours for the shopping belt's annual light-up that it organises.

    "While we want to create the festive mood, we have to ensure that motorists will not be distracted by the displays," Orba's executive director Steven Goh told The Straits Times. He explained that initial plans to use silver and gold - which is similar to the amber signal of traffic lights - for this year's display were altered.

    Instead, the panel of senior Orba and STB representatives which plans and chooses the decorations decided to turn Orchard into a winter wonderland with giant diamonds and snowflakes - all blue and white.

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    Default PSLE results 2013: More pupils made it to Express stream

    Published on Nov 22, 2013
    3:00 PM



    A nervous, nail-biting student from Rosyth School seen before the release of the PSLE results, on Nov 25, 2010. More pupils who sat the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) this year made it to the Express stream in secondary school compared to last year. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOYCE FANG



    More pupils who sat the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) this year made it to the Express stream in secondary school compared to last year.

    Of the 43,047 Primary 6 students who took the exam, 66.7 per cent qualified for the Express stream, up from 63.1 per cent last year. Of the cohort, 19.9 per cent made it to the Normal (Academic) stream and 10.9 per cent to the Normal (Technical) course.

    Results released on Friday showed that overall, 97.5 per cent of the cohort were assessed suitable to proceed to secondary school, similar to last year.


    But in a departure from previous years, the result slips handed out to pupils on Friday came without the highest and lowest scores achieved by pupils in the cohort. The Ministry of Education, which announced the change earlier this week, said it was to allow pupils to focus on their own achievements and holistic development. Last year, the top and bottom scores were 285 and 43. This followed the ministry's decision last year to end the practice of naming the top PSLE scorer so as to bring balance to the over-emphasis on academic results.

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