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Individual differences |
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The Gifted Education Programme was first implemented in Singapore in 1984 amid some public concern. It was initiated by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in line with its policy under the New Education System to allow each pupil to learn at his/her own pace. The MOE has a commitment to ensure that the potential of each pupil is recognised, nurtured and developed. It was recognised that there are pupils who are intellectually gifted and that there should be provisions to meet their needs. Beginning with two primary centres and two secondary centres, it has now expanded to nine primary centres (as at October 2004) and was at its peak before the introduction of the Integrated Programme.
Schools offering GEPEdit
By 2009 nine primary schools offer GEP.
- Anglo-Chinese School (Primary)
- Catholic High School (Singapore)
- Henry Park Primary School
- Nan Hua Primary School
- Nanyang Primary School
- Raffles Girls' Primary School
- Rosyth School
- Saint Hilda's Primary School
- Tao Nan School
Impact of the Integrated ProgrammeEdit
In 2004, with the first five secondary schools implementing their own Integrated Programmes with their affiliated Junior Colleges, they are officially no longer under the GEP. However, they still have their own programmes within their respective Integrated Programmes to cater to these gifted students, who still retain their "gifted" status. Despite all the changes, there have not been any major changes to the programme, and this is basically just a change of name.
While the secondary schools that had implemented the Integrated Programme remained generally unaffected by the move, Dunman High School and Victoria School, which continued to offer the GEP, saw a drastic decrease in enrolment. Dunman High School had to cut down on the number of GEP classes from the usual 2 to 1 while Victoria School had to suspend GEP classes.
As of 2005, four of the secondary schools officially offer only the Integrated Programme. They are Hwa Chong Institution, Raffles Institution, Raffles Girls' School (Secondary) and Nanyang Girls' High School.
Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Dunman High School are exceptions: it offers both the GEP and IP to its students. There are also two GE-IP classes in Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) who are offered both the programmes of the GEP and the IP. Anglo-Chinese School Independent is also an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, the first government supported school of its kind in Singapore.
Nanyang Girls' High School, despite its official IP school status, separates primary school GEP students and offer them an enriched GEP-influenced curriculum that differs from the rest. Meanwhile, Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls School (Secondary) offer the Raffles Programme, while Hwa Chong Institution offers the Gifted Plus programme (before adopting the MOE GEP program, it used to have its own GEP, identically named, whose aims and goals sounded similar to those of MOE's).
Beginning in 2006, the MOE started to phase out the secondary GEP due to the impact of the IP. The severity of the situation is apparent in the fact that there are only 13 pupils enrolled in the entire Secondary One GEP as of 2006. However, GEP pupils who do not wish to take up the Integrated Programme after 2008 can enrol in schools with school-based special programmes at Secondary 1. Examples of such schools are Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), Catholic High School, Methodist Girls' School and St. Joseph's Institution.
The Gifted Education Programme came to a close in secondary schools in 2008.
The mission statement of the Gifted Education Programme is to provide leadership in the education of the intellectually gifted. The programme is committed to nurturing gifted individuals to their full potential for the fulfilment of self and the betterment of society.
The vision is to make the Gifted Education Programme a model of excellence in the education of the intellectually gifted. This will be achieved by providing professional expertise and exemplary resources to develop intellectual rigour, humane values and creativity in gifted youths to prepare them for responsible leadership and service to country and society.
At Primary Three, students may choose to take the first round of admission tests, the Screening Test. Students identified based on Screening Test results will be invited to participate in the second round, the Selection Test. Based on Selection Test results, the top 1% of the cohort will be identified and invited to join the Gifted Education Programme, usually by November of that year.
Before 2003, there was a third round of testing to allow entry for pupils who missed the chance in P3, after the PSLE. This last round of testing was offered to students who achieved 3 or more A*s for the examination. Students who got in at this round were referred to as being Supplementary Intake students. However, this practice was discontinued as of 2003. The IP schools and the new specialist Mathematics and Science School, once it was formed, would open up opportunities for more pupils who are not already part of the primary school GEP. So, there will be ample opportunities to join these schools and there is no need for a supplementary exercise to select students for the GEP at secondary schools. Read Speech here
Progress in the ProgrammeEdit
The pupils will have to study in this programme from Primary 4 to 6, and after that, the pupils can choose to continue studying in the programme only, in the Integrated Programme, or in the mainstream. Some parents and pupils have argued that the stress in the programme is too great.
Pupils taking Chinese in the GEP will have to attend a programme, Chinese Language Appreciation (CLA), twice a week. The programme includes content such as Chinese poetry, comics and riddles, which are not within the Chinese Language syllabus.
Individualised Research Study (IRS) is compulsory for pupils in Primary 4 or 5, wherein pupils do research on a specific topic. The students were asked to choose their own projects in Primary Five. Most of the students take IRS or the Innovation Programme (IvP, formerly IP) where students invent things to solve everyday problems. Others will take part in Destination Imagination [DI, drama), Creative Problem Solving (CPS), and Future Problem Solving(FPS), in which students may be entered into the Team Booklet Competition, the Community Problem Solving competition(CmPS) or the Scenario Writing Competition.
Pupils in the GEP have to take Social Studies as a graded subject. Based on the mainstream textbook syllabus, students will have to study in-depth content. Overall, lessons in the GEP are conducted with fewer textbooks and workbooks; lessons are more discussion-, worksheet- and project-oriented.
Pupils in GEP learn poetry and literature (Charlotte's Web in Primary 4, A Wrinkle in Time in Primary 5, and Friedrich in Primary 6) as part of the Concept Unit under the English Language subject. Charlotte's Web will be tested under the Miscellaneous section during the end-of-year-examination for P4. A project on A Wrinkle in Time and a Reading Journal will have to be completed in Term 4 at P5. These books replace the English textbook.
The GEP and its students have been criticised by many, citing the programme as elitist.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The issue of the GEP has been raised many times in Singapore, both online in blogs and in the mainstream media.
GEP students are sometimes prejudiced against and insulted by others and portrayed as arrogant nerds and academic snobs who spend large amounts of time studying and have no interests in sports or other non-academic activities[How to reference and link to summary or text]. While this perception may ring true for some GEP individuals, as a blanket stereotype of all GEP students it does not hold true as there have been and still are GEP students who have been and/or are good in sports and have taken part in numerous sports competitions, both at Inter-School and National levels.Some GEP students in performing arts also take part in SYF (Singapore Youth Festival)[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Satire incident Edit
On 4 June 2001, Singaporean satirical site Talkingcock.com posted an account of a day in the life of a GEP student, portraying him nerdily reading his textbook in the bathroom and calling a football a "spherical object", among other depictions, which is a possible reference to a line from Tom Lehrer's Harvard Fight Song, Fight Fiercely Harvard.
This led to a string of more than 100 comments on the website spanning two years including those from GEP students. The first response from a GEP student was made on 24 May 2002 saying that although the article was funny it could have been extremely hurtful to the students. A string of other responses followed to warn others not to prejudice against GEP students. Finally, the argument was cooled down after several users suggested that the site was purely for satire and that the original article should not be taken seriously. The discussion thread is still available on the site as of 2004.
Criticism of the programme Edit
The GEP is often criticized to be elitist, as highlighted by the Wee Shu Min elitism scandal, in which the 18 year old GEP alumnus student caused public outcry in November 2006 for making insensitive and judgemental remarks against others. There was a similar controversy a year before, whereby a Primary Six GEP student wrote a letter to Today (which was actually published even after passing through checks) openly declaring that non-GEP students (referred to as "mainstreamers") were immature, and that she preferred to mix with "(similar) people like us".
Integration with mainstream Edit
In an article in The Straits Times on 3 November 2007, the MOE announced its new scheme to "encourage" greater integration between GEP and mainstream students, to combat elitism and encourage socialisation. GEP students in the nine primary GEP centres would spend up to 50% of their lesson time with the top 2% to 5% of the cohort, or the top mainstream students. They would do activities such as studying with them,etc. The announcement of the integration provoked much buzz on the blogosphere. While some felt that this might alleviate some of the stereotypes and prejudice and relieve the generally bad press that GEP students and the GEP had gotten over the past few years, others raised objections such as the fact that the only mainstream pupils affected were the top students, which in their view did not eradicate elitism. GEP pupils are put off by the antics of the mainstreamers, some students say. This in part due to the inferiority complex that the mainstreamers towards GEP students. 
- ↑ http://www.talkingcock.com/html/article.php?sid=416 Columns: A Gifted Student
- ↑ http://www.straitstimes.com/Free/Story/STIStory_173174.html Gifted scheme kids to mix more with others
- Ministry of Education Gifted Education Programme Website
- Satire: A Day in the Life of a Gifted Student (Warning: comments in the thread may be offensive to some)
- Gifted kids to take 'integrated' path
- Gifted scheme kids to mix more with others
- GEP Elitist letter
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