SINGAPORE: Results of the 2012 Singapore—Cambridge GCE O—Level Examination were released on Thursday with 81.3 per cent having scored five or more passes.
It was slightly lower than the 81.9 per cent for the 2011 examination.
About 37,200 candidates took the examination, including about 3,000 private candidates.
Amid the increased concerns over the extreme pressure stemming from the Primary School Leaving Examination, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has stopped its practice of announcing the top—scoring students whenever it releases the results of national examinations.
The O—Level results released to the media on Thursday focused on the performance of the whole cohort.
At Chung Cheng High School (Main), anxiety gave way to relief, as 99.8 per cent of the students who sat for the exam attained five or more O—Level passes.
54.3 per cent of the 444 students scored at least five distinctions.
For many, results day was an emotional experience.
Phyu Thin Khine, who scored eight distinctions, had to overcome the tragic death of both her parents in an accident three years ago.
"I just wish that they could be here with me," said Thin Khine, who is originally from Myanmar and has been in Singapore for about seven years.
Her classmate Abigail Sim also scored eight distinctions but it was not an easy feat considering she was selling toothbrushes from door to door to earn pocket money a year ago.
She stopped in March last year when her school found out and started giving her a monthly allowance of about S$80.
She was also the recipient of MOE’s Financial Assistance Scheme.
Her mother is an administrative clerk, and her father is currently unemployed.
Abigail said: "It allowed me to cover my pocket money and my daily needs. And if the school wants us to buy extra notes or assessment, I’d be able to use the money to help myself. My secondary four year has been a really meaningful one, because I really achieved quite a lot of things in many areas, like academic, sports and other areas."
Abigail credits her parents for supporting her emotionally.
"Even though they may not be able to support me financially, like other kids, like watch movies and go out, they really gave me the moral support I needed," she said.
Abigail added: "My parents and brothers helped me. Even though it may be a small chat, it meant a lot to me because it released the stress and mental burden when I was feeling down. My friends understood my situation, so they would not force me to do things when I was not free. They understood what my priorities were."
Abigail hopes to study medicine and become a paediatrician, and volunteer her medical services in third world countries.
This is the first time in many years that a top scorer in the O—level exam has not been named.
Instead, schools all over Singapore are recognising the efforts of many of their students who have performed well, many like Abigail who have had to overcome challenges to rise to the occasion.
Chung Cheng High School (Main) principal Pang Choon How, said: "We are looking at not just the academic, we are also emphasising that it is the effort that really counts. We are looking really at exemplary character and holistic education that we hope that we will be able to inspire them to carry on for the rest of their lives.
"It is really about the perseverance and the tenacity that they have shown to overcome all odds, and these are really personal touching stories that we feel can inspire, and inspire the cohort of students. By also recognising the whole cohort, it is also important in the sense that it gives them a sense of pride together, because they have worked hard together for four years."
Many neighbourhood schools, like Westwood Secondary fared better than the national average.
92.8 per cent of students in the Express stream and 68.2 per cent of students in the Normal Academic stream scored five or more O—level passes.
"Having an aspiration is important, so that you know where to go, and know that if you work hard, you can achieve your dreams," said Muhammad Nur Syafiee Ayub who scored six distinctions and aspires to become an architect.
Two hundred and twenty—three students from Westwood Secondary School sat for the examination.
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