SINGAPORE: Introducing PSLE leave "feeds into the fears" of parents and the exam should not be the "defining moment in a child’s development", wrote Minister of State for Transport and Finance, Josephine Teo in her Facebook post on Wednesday.
Her reaction comes as OCBC Bank announced three weeks of leave for staff from next year to help their children prepare for the national examination.
Writing on her Facebook page, Mrs Josephine Teo highlighted her experience, having just seen her twins through the PSLE.
She said there are many occasions where parents would need to "be there" for their children.
But it should not be a "default assumption" that parents must take significant time off to help children prepare.
Mrs Teo said OCBC Bank’s move may be well—intentioned, but it may result in some parents feeling "unusual" if they don’t take such leave.
A child psychologist said this may reinforce Singapore’s stressful exam—climate.
"If I put myself in their shoes, I’ll be constantly checking ’Did you do your homework? Have you studied? How many hours have you studied? Oh my gosh, why are you watching television? Are you playing your Game Boy when you’re supposed to be researching this on the Internet?’," said Dr Carol Balhetchet, a clinical psychologist at Singapore Children’s Society.
She added: "If parents want to be really useful to the child, then at the beginning of the year, put in place some structure, some time—management plans and teach the child how to study. I think they can help them there.
"If they do the supervisions so to speak, putting the pressure on the child during the period of the exam, we’re going to have very, very stressful children who do not know how to study on their own."
OCBC said the PSLE Leave Scheme is part of a slew of work—life balance initiatives introduced over the years.
It was implemented because the bank sees more employers applying for annual leave to spend time with their children who are taking their PSLE.
It said feedback from employees and industry has been "very favourable".
The PSLE leave implementation comes as the government in recent months said it would re—look into ways of reducing this over—pressure on one single national examination.
And parents Channel NewsAsia spoke to had mixed reactions as to the benefits of such an official study leave.
Thanam Muthusamy, who is a teacher, said: "I do know of some parents who actually stay at home not to put the pressure, but just to make sure they’re eating well and sleeping well and just encouraging them along but knowing our Singapore parents, I think they’re putting a lot more pressure than not."
Some parents said taking regular leave during the PSLE year is better than doing it closer to the examinations.
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