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So The Culling Has Begun

Tuition given in the topic of Miss Loi the Tutor from the desk of Miss Loi at 10:04 pm (Singapore time)

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Taking a newspaper break in the midst of her busy new semester class schedule, Miss Loi was drawn to a colourful graphic in this article, depicting a spinster-like principal telling a group of Sec 5 students, in no uncertain terms, where she thought they would end up.

Go to ITE!

A spinster principal’s tender loving care

So like rogue tuition centres who have often been accused of dropping ‘poor’ students in order to boost their track records, ‘academic cleansing’ has begun in earnest at our schools as well.

Frankly this is nothing surprising.

Dark tales of shady pep talks given by principals/teachers in dingy smoke-filled offices lit by a solitary swinging bulb coaxing underperforming students to drop certain subjects have long been whispered.

Career Counseling

Career Counseling

In Miss Loi’s time, this usually happened toward the later part of the academic year – when it was pretty clear that the student was a dead (wo)man walking as far as the subject goes, and that given the time left, there was little hope of salvation (maybe not) and it was probably fair to say that the best option was to let go and use the additional time to focus on other subjects.

These days messages are being delivered in a more subliminal way, as evidenced by tales of Sec 4 Normal Acad students being ‘ushered’ to ITE Open House while their Express friends get to go to the JC/Poly ones.

But to take this to a new level, at a time when lessons have barely started, and when boys and girls are still busily twirling into each other’s embrace in orientation dances, spinster-like principals now usher in the new year by MASS CULLING students in front of their class.

What’s the hurry?

With no disrespect to ITE, why so quick to pass the death sentence? Seems like you’re more afraid than the students eh? Ruling the missed Jan 2 dateline to ‘clear’ them out?

Time may be running out for you to break out of your spinsterhood, These students have a whole future ahead of them.

Arguments for the benefits of going ITE aside, these are students who have done relatively well for their N-Levels and in all likelihood they want to take their Os and get to Poly.

Yeah yeah you’re just trying to give them a ‘wake-up’ call.
Yeah yeah it’s a big jump from the Ns to the Os.
Yeah yeah yeah “an N-Level Grade 4/5 is unlikely to get you a pass in the Os”.

Why all these preemptive gloom and doom? The system you worked for already deem them good enough for the O-Levels. Else why not just raise the cut-off point to enter Sec 5?

For goodness’ sake, they haven’t even taken their exams yet.


You know there are brilliant early starters who later fizzled out in life. You know there are late developers who exceled later in life. Often it’s just students being lazy/playful/distracted or umm … students that prevent them from doing well.

But instead of taking time off to talk to them as individuals, you lump everyone together and impose your own version of the caste system.

Inaugural School Ranking Results 1994

The day education died?

Oh what an easy way to mask the deficiencies of your rigid cookie-cutter system. How you must’ve loathed those glowing tuition centre testimonies that shamelessly proclaim their F9 to A1 miracle cases – cases that your system of 1 overworked teacher to 40 students ratio can’t reproduce often enough.

Yeah yeah Miss Loi’s living in her own fantasy world.

You probably don’t care anyway. For you’re in the business of statistics, and your knowledge of your school ranking’s contributory stats is way better than Miss Loi’s (though she’ll probably beat you when it comes to vital stats).

The words ‘motivation’ and ‘morale’ probably don’t mean a thing to you either. For your mind’s probably too occupied with your secondary business of event organization for parents and guests from MOE.

To the 27

If you’re reading this, it doesn’t mean that you can pat each other in the back now that your principal has successfully attained Public Enemy Number One status.

Like it or not, you’ve at an age when you’re face with decisions of far greater importance than which dress to wear for tonight’s date. And it’s imperative you learn to weed out the good advice from the bad (regardless of whether it’s from friends or parents or spinster-like principals).

Unfortunately these days many people offer advice based on:

  1. There own experiences and often limited knowledge
  2. Their own hidden agenda
Commercial Distraction

Commercial Distraction

Are your parents advising you to aim for Poly because they think a particular course offered there suits your aspirations, or simply because their neighbour’s aunty’s second son’s cousin is doing well there?

Is your teacher advising you to go ITE because she genuinely feels that a particular course offered there matches your potential and saves you a year of mindless O-Level mugging, or is she simply trying to improve her Mean Subject Grade?

Will your army of advisors be responsible if things don’t work out for you in the end?

For the record, Miss Loi will never forget those lonely miserable years she spent in her JC, on the instruction advice of a family member for her to pull out of her previous JC which had ‘no future’. Neither will she forget missing the chance to study Japanese as a third language, on the advice of her teacher who felt that she ‘won’t be able to manage’.

Though it’s Miss Loi’s own humble opinion that having an O-Level cert these days is the bare minimum for many to survive, ultimately you’ll have to make an informed decision for yourself, and not succumb to peer pressure.

But there’s never a right or wrong answer, and your outcome won’t be known till years later – when you might get to see ITE graduate towkays driving big cars laughing at straight-As scholars still slaving away at their miserable corporate desks.

So choose ITE and make sure you’ll not be distracted by all the unfortunate social stigma that comes with it. Choose to take the Os and be prepared for a very, very hardworking nine months of mindless mugging ahead …

… and at the end of it all, make sure you earn your right to proudly shove that result slip of yours into that principal’s spinster face!


Revision Exercise

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Comments & Reactions


  1. HORNY ANG MOH's Avatar
    HORNY ANG MOH commented in tuition class


    No wander my teacher don’t want me to take up biology even thought I done very very well in one part of the biology! I end up with literature! I nearly died of boredom!

  2. Miss Loi's Avatar
    Miss Loi Friend Miss Loi on Facebook @MissLoi commented in tuition class


    HAM, think the part that you've 'done very well' is not (and will never be) in the school syllabus.

  3. Hani's Avatar
    Hani commented in tuition class


    Woah that’s a very long post. During my sec sch days, we were not given a chance to op for subjects after streaming in sec2. But somehow I managed to find my way up 😀

  4. TheBlabberingMe's Avatar
    TheBlabberingMe commented in tuition class


    Unforunately, the culling is so widespread that I believe an overhaul of the whole entire system is needed to eradicate it.

  5. ByPassing's Avatar
    ByPassing commented in tuition class


    I only hope that those students will be able to regain confidence in themselves and do not bow down.

  6. Miss Loi's Avatar
    Miss Loi Friend Miss Loi on Facebook @MissLoi commented in tuition class


    Hani, ditto for our time. Though instead we were given plenty of chances by certain teachers to drop certain subjects.

    P.S. Now that you've mentioned it, this is indeed one of THE longest posts here ever!

    Blabberer: Drop the rankings, and education suddenly becomes noble again.

    ByPasser: They probably feel better now that they know the world's on their side. But Miss Loi hopes that they will not happily use this as an excuse to return to their comfort zones.

    Ironically, this IS a wake-up call after-all!

  7. FoxTwo's Avatar
    FoxTwo commented in tuition class


    How come nobody told me to drop any subjects when I was in school?! I wanted to! Nobody told me to! So I ended up having to take exams for every subject 🙁

  8. ByPassing's Avatar
    ByPassing commented in tuition class


    Wah~wait later they sing “wake me up, when september ends…”to you. hehe

  9. eastcoastlife's Avatar
    eastcoastlife commented in tuition class


    Principals in our government schools these days are only interested in their own sterling performance. They dun care for anyone. Cull students, cull teachers, cull parents... cull bei cull bu....

    We have to cull them!

  10. Miss Loi's Avatar
    Miss Loi Friend Miss Loi on Facebook @MissLoi commented in tuition class


    LOL if it's like this then there's nobody left in the school to cull. Maybe cull the security guard?

    Let's hope Miss Loi doesn't get to see a deranged principal suddenly appear in Novena to look for tutors to cull.

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