Write about the Argumentative Essay for DSA Scheme.
Gifted students are common in many schools and academic institutions globally. Those with talents and abilities may need programs that offer challenges to push them into their true potentials. Different countries have varied approaches to this issue and take measures that are appropriate to their setting. In Singapore, the Direct School Admission (DSA) plays an important role in identifying and nurturing pupils with special talents and abilities. Its efficacy can be seen in the global education rankings where it is the top performer. The current DSA program should be further revised to be reserved only for non-academic talent in order in order to build the sporting talent and rankings of the country as well as to nurture the national sports industry.
Definition of the expanded DSA scheme
The expanded DSA scheme states that from 2018, schools are supposed to preserve a certain percentage of allocations for their non-Integrated Program for students with abilities that lie beyond traditional academic exams. This allocation has been set at 20% and is intended to nurture talents in sports and the arts. It also allows students to apply based on academic strengths and talents (Davie 2016). The students who qualify will be able to access schools that will nurture and develop their talents. Students applying for the DSA under these specifications will not be required to sit for the general academic exams, such as the Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE). The admission caps have been lifted in terms of the different categories such as niche programs, autonomous and independent schools.
Issues surrounding the current expanded DSA scheme
The educational issues on the expanded DSA is that it may eventually end compromising the quality of the PSLE as more students will focus on preparing for the DSA as a form of parallel alternative (Davies 2016). This has seen the proliferation of courses that are set to prepare the students for the DSA, despite not having natural ability. The economic issue is that it benefits those wealthy in society and disenfranchises the poor. Many of those who applied during the last five years had parents who resided in private housing and this shows the economic disparity (Seow 2016). The social impact of DSA is that it puts excessive stress on children who have to sacrifice their childhood in order to outperform their peers (Seow 2016). This leads to some being affected by mental illness.
Arguments against upholding the current DSA scheme
The current DSA allows for applications from both academic and non-academic talents and abilities. Going by the global rankings on education, Singapore has been shown to top in Mathematics and Sciences on exams taken for students under 15 years of age (Coughlan 2016). This shows that the traditional and Gifted Education Programs are working and beneficial. Instead of improving on these outcomes, putting emphasis on building the sports and arts considerations should be given more prominence. This requires limiting the DSA to non-academic talent. This would help enrich the schools that have academic programs by nurturing sports and arts within their student populations.
The emphasis on non-academic programs will help to nurture talent that will develop talent for the sporting and arts industry. Singapore has hosted a number of high profile sporting events such as the World Rugby Sevens and the Singapore Grand Prix (Loh 2016). The investment in physical infrastructure should be accompanied by the corresponding investment in human capacity. In order to provide talent who can compete at international events and manage such events hosted domestically will require talent development through the schools. The DSA can be used to tap and nurture this talent. Lo (2016) states that this will also spur the development of universities such as the Edinburgh-Nappier University that offer sports degrees as they will have enough students from niche schools.
Students with exceptional talents in the arts will contribute to the development of a thriving domestic film, music and performing arts industry in Singapore. The students who pass through niche schools will also ensure the sustainability of arts schools such as SOTA, as they will have a steady supply of students. The development of arts will help to enrich the variety of entertainment that can be offered socially and reduce the dependence on imported forms of entertainment (Akuno, 2017). This will have an overall positive impact on the culture and economy. Locally produced films and music can be exported and this will help expose the culture of Singapore. Thus the expanded DSA should focus more non-academic talent.
Arguments for upholding the current DSA. Focusing on non-academic talent will disenfranchise students who may not be generally strong academically, but in specific subjects such as Mathematics. This will stifle their talents and abilities when they are allowed to go through the normal academic testing. The DSA gives students who do not gain admission into the Gifted Education Program (GEP), with less than 1% being admitted (Kiem 2016). Another argument is that there are relatively fewer students with natural talents and abilities in sports and the arts when compared to academic students. Their ability to have positive impact on the economy in the future is therefore limited and negligible. Tan (2016) asserts that this is not natural talent but groomed and artificial talent which will fizzle out.
The DSA is a good example of a national program that seeks to nurture natural talents and abilities which are both academic and non-academic. The expanded DSA program allows for both categories of students to apply. The main argument against it is that by allowing for applicants with academic talents, it becomes just another program similar to the GEP. It does not meet its original mandate that sought to nurture non-academic talent. Focusing on non-academic talent will be beneficial in nurturing the local arts and sports industries which economically benefit the nation. This can be countered by stating that it’s very few students with natural talent who can progress to become professionals: many fizzle out in secondary school.
Akuno, E. A. (2017). Higher education leadership and governance in the development of the creative and cultural industries in Kenya. Dakar: CODESRIA.
Coughlan, S. (2016). Pisa tests: Singapore top in global education rankings. BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/education-38212070
Davie, S. (2016). Schools, stop the ‘kiasu’ practice if suing DSA to ‘chope’ bright kids. The Straits Times.
Kiem, W.T.W. (2016). Don’t shut bright kids out of DSA. The Straits Times Online Forum.
Loh, M. (2016). Game on: How Singapore can score in global sports events management. Singapore Business Review. Retrieved from https://sbr.com.sg/hr-education/commentary/game-how-singapore-can-score-in-global-sports-events-management
Seow, C. (2016).Re-thinking the DSA (Direct School Admission) Scheme. Singapore Motherhood. Retrieved from https://singaporemotherhood.com/articles/2016/06/direct-school-admission-dsa-scheme-school-singapore/
Tan, J. (2016). This P5 student’s letter sums up everything that’s wrong with the DSA system, Mothership. Retrieved from https://mothership.sg/2016/02/this-p5-boys-letter-sums-up-everything-thats-wrong-with-the-dsa-system/
Towse, R. (2013). A textbook of cultural economics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.