Republic Poly in the Hot Seat

Recently, Republic Poly (RP) was in the spotlight – and for all the wrong reasons.

TNP, Zaobao, Wanbao, Mothership, just to name a few, had reported that RP had revoked the spots of the 16 students on their first day of school.

RP told these students that they did not meet the cut off points for the various courses. And because of this, their places were revoked.

This was despite the fact that the students had received acceptance letters from the school, went through with the necessary procedures (e.g. medical check-ups), and even received the RP student card.  This took place over the period of more than a month.

The RP Registrar, Shanmugasundar W, said that RP discovered “discrepancies in the submitted and actual examination/ CCA grades… during the verification checks before the semester started” and that revoking their places was done out of “fairness to other unsuccessful applicants”.

Wah at this point, don’t know to praise them for being efficient or not. (roll eyes)

While RP stated that they have assisted the students to apply for other courses at other polytechnics and the ITE, but Singaporeans were having none of RP’s nonsense and how they handled the situation.

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Just some of our thoughts:

It is understandable that RP may not be able to admit students if they are really unable to make the admission cut by a far margin (so as to be fair to the rest of the unsuccessful applicants), but was it necessary to treat the students the way they have?

Could the school not have put themselves in the shoes of these affected students and their families, and communicated with them with a touch more humanity and compassion?

While RP sees many students graduating every year, but for these students – many of them see it as a fresh start and new beginning. And for them, their world came crashing down, no less on the first day of school.

To rub salt on the wound, according to one of the students, Irfan Sazali, the school said that he had lied about his CCA grade. Was it really appropriate and necessary to say such things?

Irfan also didn’t hear back from the school, who earlier assured them that they will get back later in the day after contacting ITE. Irfan and his parents went down to ITE themselves later in the evening to sort things out. Irfan has now settled into ITE.

Funnily enough, a polytechnic lecturer who “declined to be named” actually had the following to say about students who did not make the cut (and if they were admitted into the school):

“The course might be too tough for the students and it’s not worth it in the long run. It’s not just about liking the subject; they have to be able to handle it.”

This seemed to be in direct contradiction with what our Education Ministers have been saying not so long ago, about “going beyond grades”.

There was much talk about the need to expand “aptitude-based admissions” in our polytechnics and local universities, where they will allow for students who do not make grade academically – but show passion and interest – to get into the course of their choice. This also reflects the desire to shift the over-emphasis on grades.

Guess with this unnamed polytechnic lecturer, it just shows that not everyone, and (worse still) not every educator, seemed to have bought into the narrative of shifting away from grades.

That is all. Kthxbye.