With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting Singapore, there are some aspects in the education sector that have not been changed by it. One of these aspects is the Direct School Admission exercise (DSA) that is scheduled to start in mid-May.
According to the announcement of Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education, on May 5th, the DSA will continue as scheduled with several measures to be enacted to help schools evaluate their prospective students as part of the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The DSA enables Primary 6 students to apply for secondary schools they want to sign up for before they get their Primary School Leaving Examination or the PSLE.
The ministry hopes that the schools will get the same number of placements for DSA for this year like the previous school year despite the measures. Last year, the placements were around 3,500 students.
Difference in Selection Process
For DSA participants, here are the things you can expect when the exercise begins:
1) No physical trials or face-to-face interviews
Students will be assessed by schools through video-conferencing tools.
They will be asked to go to their primary schools for these interviews, which will begin from July and end in September. Each student will be given a schedule to ensure social distancing is met like these protocols and prevent them from mingling in the school premises.
According to the MOE, the use of online applications such as video conferencing programs will also ensure to students that the selection process will be done fairly.
Students with no internet access or computers will also be able to participate without problems since they will use the schools in their primary schools for their interviews.
2) Do tasks that showcase their skills and strengths
During the online interviews, students will be asked to showcase their skills and strengths. Schools can determine what tasks they will ask the student to make sure they can assess them properly and how it should be done.
This may include singing an original piece, creating a short sketch or performing a short dance.
However, for certain courses like sports and performing arts, the MOE recognises that there will be limitations to this method and offered an alternative.
3) The student’s talent, passion, character and potential will be considered if they cannot show their skills
To address the limitations of online interviews for assessing students, DSA schools will need to use a student’s school record and the information they will provide to see if the student is qualified for certain courses. Here is how you can prepare your child for DSA’s interview.
Schools will also check the student’s past achievements and co-curricular record to see if they qualify for a slot.
Previously, DSA schools could see a student’s track record for subjects like sports and performing arts through events like the Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentation and the National School Games. However, with these events cancelled, the schools will be given leeway on how they want to assess students for these subjects and they must do it fairly.
If the applicant has little or no formal training, the MOE said that the student’s character and potential will be considered. Schools will shortlist those whom they see have the potential even if they do not have the training for the subjects they are applying for.
This will be great news for those who are from vulnerable backgrounds who also wish to get a slot in their chosen secondary school or junior college through the exercise.
4) Reduce the emphasis on grades
Currently, the DSA is permitting students to get into their chosen secondary school or junior college based on their achievements and talents even before they get their PSLE results. However, they will still need to take either the PSLE or their O-Level GCE tests.
If the offer was given to the student, the student will need to give their decision before the deadline, which will be a day or so prior to the release of the examination results.
The MOE said that they are trying to reduce the emphasis on grades and examinations for students when applying for their chosen schools.
With the pandemic, they are now looking into alternative methods to evaluate students, which is why moral education and character is now a criteria for applying.
These reforms are going to continue even after the pandemic, as well as the developments to the DSA.
How to Apply for the DSA
Applications for the DSA exercise for the next school year in 2021 will start on May 12 to June 5.
They will be done online and only one form is needed for multiple applications and talent focus. Students are given up to three choices for the DSA and they will need their parents or guardian’s SingPass to submit the form.
If the student will be applying for junior college, they should check the DSA-JC webpage to know key dates for their application or their chosen JC’s webpage.
Financial assistance will be provided to students who need it such as the MOE Financial Assistance Scheme, the Edusave Scholarship for Independent Schools, Opportunity Fund, the UPLIFT Scholarship and the Independent School Bursary. For a list of complete scholarships,check it here.
Around 146 secondary schools and 20 junior colleges are taking part in this year’s DSA, ensuring that students have a lot of options for their application.
The DSA exercise is a great opportunity to see where your child will take their education to the next step. Around this time, your child will look into the schools where they think they can pursue their passions. It will also be one of the many ways for you to see how far they have grown even without considering their national test results.
However, with the pandemic changing the way your child can apply for the exercise, it is important you help them with their application as best as you can. For instance, you can help him prepare his skit or role play the interview with your child if he or she tend to get nervous. If you need more help in this area, our tutors are able to coach your child too.
Make it a point to also check the website of the DSA and your child’s chosen school regularly to be up-to-date with deadlines and other requirements.
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