The annual Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results day is a time of tension for parents and their kids. But Krystal Chan didn’t have her mother to cheer her on – she lost her mum to colon cancer in April this year.
“I was positive she would fight through, but even though she didn’t, (towards the end) we tried to be there for her as much as possible,” said Krystal, 12, who is from Geylang Methodist School (Primary). Her mother was 50 when she diagnosed in November 2016.
“She still tried to make sure I studied and read my textbooks. She wanted me to be a doctor so I could help people like her.”
Her 52-year-old father, who quit his job as a marine engineer, helped her through the exam period.
Krystal, who was one of 273 pupils in the school to sit the PSLE this year, scored 221. She has secured a place in Zhonghua Secondary School under the Direct School Admission exercise through her co-curricular activity, choir singing.
Her father Joel Chan, said: “Academics are important but so is character. In the period of her grief, she was crying every night looking for her mum…but she gave me a lot of support.”
Mr Chan left his job in January last year to take care of his wife, and after she died, he continued to be a stay-at-home dad to spend time with Krystal and her older brother Theodore, who is 18 this year.
He is now doing freelance marine consulting work from home.
Krystal added: “It was really hard to manage my time after my mum died, because she was always the one telling me to study.
“It took a lot of self-discipline, but I would imagine her scolding me. I focused on what she would want me to do to make her proud.”
Overall, this year’s Primary 6 cohort did well in the PSLE. Like their seniors in the previous two years, the class of 2018 saw 98.4 per cent of pupils progress to a secondary school.
It matched the number set in 2016 and 2017, and remains the best performance since the national exam was introduced in 1960.
From 1980 to 2015, between 81.7 per cent and 98.3 per cent of pupils who took the PSLE were eligible to enrol in secondary schools.
On Nov 22, 2018, thousands of Primary 6 pupils across Singapore returned to their schools to collect their result slips.
A total of 39,672 pupils sat the national exam this year, up from 38,942 last year.
This year, 66.6 per cent of the cohort qualified for the Express course in secondary school, up from 66.2 per cent in 2017.
A record 66.7 per cent made it to the Express course in 2013.
Of the 2018 cohort, 20.6 per cent are eligible for the Normal (Academic) course, and 11.2 per cent for the Normal (Technical) course.
Geylang Methodist Primary principal Jennifer Choy, 54, spoke to the pupils’ parents before releasing the results, telling them to affirm and encourage their children’s efforts regardless of how they performed.
She said: “These three digits (the results) do not represent a child’s worth…We should look for opportunities to celebrate.”
Students eligible for secondary school received option forms when they collected their results slips.
They will be able to access the online system to submit their secondary school choices from Thursday to next Wednesday afternoon (Nov 28).
The Secondary 1 posting results will be released on Dec 19.
A version of this story first appeared in The Straits Times