SINGAPORE — Of the 95 Normal (Academic) students wrongly issued eligibility forms for the inaugural Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP), 13 remained unreachable by phone as of Thursday, but emails and hardcopy letters to all affected students have been sent.
In an update on Thursday, the Ministry of Education (MOE) explained that the error was discovered after manual checks were carried out on the system used for the PFP.
The system had double—counted grades for subjects that the affected students had sat for at both the actual N—Levels and the school—based preliminary examinations, although each subject should only be counted once and only the better of the two grades should have been used.
As a result, the aggregate scores on some students’ PFP forms were reflected as better than their actual aggregate scores.
The MOE said this is the first time such a computation error has occurred, adding: "Many affected students that MOE contacted were already aware that they were not eligible for the PFP despite their having received Form P."
It also noted that the examination results themselves were correct and only the computed aggregate scores used to determine the eligibility was wrong in some cases.
The PFP is a one—year programme that prepares eligible N(A) students for entry into the relevant Polytechnic Diploma course. N—level graduates under the PFP will not sit for the O—Levels. The programme admits the top 10 per cent of each year’s N(A) cohort.
Separately, Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education Lim Biow Chuan was "disappointed" that such a mistake had happened.
Mr Lim acknowledged that mistakes occur but said that the incident had affected the hopes of the students.
He added that this is the first time such a mistake has happened, due to the PEP being a new course.
He also stressed that MOE must do "everything possible" to ensure that such a mistake is not repeated.
Mr Lim said MOE has to check the system and make sure they realise what went wrong in the system of calculation.
He said: "They’ve got to implement steps and checks to ensure that this doesn’t occur. Someone senior would have to check the results manually again, to make sure they tally with what the computer churns out for them. If there have been such checks, then they better do the checks again and again to make sure that (the mistake) doesn’t recur."
MOE has to explain what had happened and reveal what else it is intending to do to ensure the results of students are thoroughly checked, he said.
"I (feel) that MOE could have been a little bit more kind to the students affected. Personally, I would have wondered, ’could MOE have studied the 95 students who are affected and see whether it’s possible to grant them a kind of access to the course on condition that they are able to make it at the end of the day?’" added Mr Lim.
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