Direct School Admission – Benefits and Concerns
The Direct School Admission (DSA) is a system introduced in 2004 that allows students in Primary 6 to secure places in secondary schools before they sit for their Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).
The DSA also aims to recognize talent outside the student’s academic ability so as to eventually produce a holistic society. As such, the Ministry of Education (MoE) allows students to apply to DSA-Sec on the basis of talents such as sports, visual and performing arts, debate, public speaking, and leadership.
Those who choose to go through the DSA system give themselves chances of joining top-rated schools in Singapore such as Victoria School, Singapore Sports School, Dunman High School, and the School of Science and Technology, Singapore.
There are many benefits of submitting a DSA application for your child:
Academic Recognition Fosters Consistency
Your child rarely gets enough recognition for performing well in class. After all, it is something that is expected of them. Positive behavior that is not reinforced will slowly start to diminish with time; psychologists Ivan Pavlov and B. F. Skinner have told us as much.
This is the reason you start to notice that your child’s academic performance is slowly declining and no amount of stern talk or motivation is helping them rediscover their once brilliant academic selves.
DSA gives your child this much needed positive reinforcement; it is a reward for all their hard work. Once they are in secondary school, they will seek to outdo their primary school achievements to obtain similar rewards.
Your child has other talents besides education that they would like to explore. You as the parent would like to see them concentrate more on their education as it gives them the best chance for future success.
DSA reconciles the two. There are many top schools known for producing exceptional students who are good at certain sports or fare well in the arts.
Participating in other activities is crucial because the skills they will learn from exploring their talents can be vital for their future professional lives. For example, being part of a sports team will teach your child how to work well with others by building camaraderie with his/her peers.
Sports also ensures that your child’s overall health remains in pristine condition.
Competition Brings Out the Best in People
Being the best in a class where not all the kids are as academically gifted as your child is relatively easy. This can lead to complacency over time as your child is guaranteed top spot at the end of every academic term.
An environment where your child is competing with equally talented students will bring out the best in them. Being temporarily displaced from the top position in class will inspire them to work even harder to regain the spot.
Opportunity for Early Innovation
The people who come up with society-changing innovations are not always old with experiences spanning a couple decades. Some of the best innovators in the world are also some of the youngest according to Fortune.
DSA gives your child the opportunity to connect with other brilliant students who have similar interests. These kids can explore new ideas together and find solutions to problems facing society.
They can then patent the idea and set themselves up for future success while still in secondary school.
Networking is an integral part of adulthood. Many a time, people get jobs after being recommended by a friend or acquaintance.
DSA gives your child the unique opportunity of being in the same environment with people that they will brush shoulders with later in professional circles.
Envision a situation where your child if friends with a secondary four student. The secondary four student will be well established by the time your child is done with secondary. They could quickly get your capable child an internship in their organization.
You could also end up getting into forming a strong friendship with your child’s parents. This is crucial since it can be difficult making mutually beneficial friendships as an adult.
The application process is detailed on the Ministry of Education’s website.
Despite all the above benefits, there have been legitimate concerns raised by parents on the efficiency of the DSA scheme.
Concerns of the DSA Scheme
Gaming the System
There has been a massive increase in the number of people claiming to be DSA experts in Singapore. These coaches claim to have courses that put your child head and shoulders above other DSA applicants.
The students, therefore, do not get in the secondary schools as a result of their brilliance in class or talents outside it. In many cases, they are forced to develop an interest in something to pass these courses.
This gaming of the system leaves leads to a situation where an undeserving student gets the opportunity over a more deserving student.
Inability to Change Schools
Your child going to a DSA-Sec that is known for a particular co-curricular activity means that your child is committing their entire secondary future to that school. They will not be allowed to explore any other co-curricular activity during that time.
At such a young age, students should be afforded the opportunity to change their minds if they feel something does not fit. Discovering yourself often involves undertaking many activities until you find the right fit.
As far as results are concerned, once your child accepts DSA offer, they will not be able to join a better school even if their PSLE results are far better than they expected.
Mental Health Concerns
Mental health has become a central topic in the world in recent times. The overarching point has been that it is nearly impossible to fulfill your potential if you are not mentally healthy.
Education policy experts in Singapore have noted that an alarming number of students can be characterized as depressed and anxious. They are this way because they are subjected to intense pressure to succeed at a very early age.
These experts say that many eleven or twelve-year-olds are ill-equipped with the skills to handle such mental pressures. Even the academically gifted students continuously worry that they will fail to perform when push comes to shove.
These mental issues can carry well into their adult lives.
The DSA scheme has many benefits that cannot be refuted. Receiving a “confirmed” after applying will undoubtedly bring joy to both you and your child, and you will rest easy knowing that your child is on the right track.
Nevertheless, there can be improvements to the system to ensure that it is more effective.