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Two Singapore’s secondary schools, Ahmad Ibrahim and Woodgrove, mixed up the O level registrations of 73 secondary-five students last Thursday (Oct 20).

The 73 sec-five students were supposed to take the old syllabus version of the Maths O level but were given the revised version instead. The students were the ones who discovered the mix up only after they compared the subject code of their entry proofs against their 10-year-series assessment books.

The Singapore Examination and Assessment Board (SEAB) blamed the two schools for the mix up stating that they registered the wrong syllabus code during the registration process at the start of the year.

SEAB then evaded responsibility for the matter claiming that even though the students took the wrong exam papers, the topics are “largely comparable”:

“While affected candidates have taken the Paper 1 for the revised syllabus 4048, the topics examined are largely comparable with the syllabus 4016.”

SEAB however made an unfair judgment call and do not allow the affected students to retake the right exam syllabus:

“We will take into consideration the circumstances of the incident, the candidates’ performance in the school preliminary examination, their performance in the other mathematics paper and the cohort’s performance in providing a fair assessment to the candidates for the mathematics subject.”

Principal of Ahmad Ibrahim Secondary School Chew Ing Lim told state media, The Straits Times. that she has met the affected students to assure them and check if further support was required. She however claimed that students and parents are ‘appreciative’ of the school’s efforts.

The principal of Woodgrove Secondary School gave a non-reply:

“The affected students have been briefed and their parent have been assured that they will be assessed together with the other candidates under the correct syllabus and would not be disadvantaged.”

None of the schools or education representatives apologised. The two Education Ministers are also silent on the matter.

It is believed the Education Ministry is taking a lax attitude and not calling for a re-exam because the students are Normal Academic students, and not considered elites of Singapore’s Darwinist system. Especially for neighbourhood schools, the Ministry of Education allocates the lowest amount of funding for the schools and have in recent years closed down several others in the name of “mergers”.