Monthly Archives: April 2010

Why JC students do NOT deserve priority over polytechnic students

I refer to Mr. Lee Beng Tat’s letter (‘JC students deserve priority‘). 

The only people who should get priority when it comes to university admission are the individuals who have proven themselves to be deserving, regardless of whether they’re from JC or Poly. It is morally and logically unjustified to deny better performers a place in University simply because of where they come from. It is ridiculous to claim that JC students, by the sheer virtue of having chosen the JC path, inherently deserve a place in university more than Poly students! Would Mr. Lee be so bold as to assert that even the most lacklustre, unmotivated and lazy JC students outperform the brightest and the most hardworking Poly students? If not, then would he be comfortable saying that he does not believe in meritocracy?

When we choose athletes to represent Singapore, do we choose them based on which school they’re from? Should a Sports School student be given priority over a neighbourhood school student who outperforms him, simply because the Sports School student “consciously decided” to pursue sports the same way JC students “consciously decided” to pursue academia? (When I was in JC, the number one reason students gave for choosing JC was “I don’t know what to do with my life.” That’s hardly a conscious decision.)

It can be said that it is highly difficult to objectively compare Poly and JC students. That is fair. Universities have admission boards to decide these matters. It is a difficult and unenviable job to do, and I am certain they have competent people in charge. Universities are sanctums of knowledge and learning, and they should be the most qualified when it comes to making such difficult decisions. Please, Mr. Lee, do not insult them by pretending that you understand the complexity of the issue better than them.

Not satisfied with telling universities how to do things, Mr. Lee also claimed that “employers value degrees more than diplomas”. Who is Mr. Lee to speak on behalf of all employers? The only thing we can be certain of is that employers value employees who are an asset to the organization, and this is a much more complex issue than a case of “degrees over diplomas”. Such a complex issue requires a refined approach, and an assertion such as “JC students deserve places in University more than Poly students” is, frankly, unrefined.