Girls lead but boys catch up

22 January 2017
The Sunday Times, Top of the News, Page A8-A9

Nicholas and Jerica Fung

Girls tend to outdo boys academically at a younger age although this gap closes as they enter their late teens and early 20s. Statistics from the Ministry of Education (MOE) showed that in the last 10 years, girls performed “slightly better” than boys in the Primary School Leaving Examination. Girls were around 2 to 3 percentage points over-represented in the top quintile, and about 3 to 4 percentage points under-represented in the bottom quintile. At the O levels, girls were around 1 to 2 percentage points over-represented in the top quintile and about 1 to 2 percentage points under-represented in the bottom quintile. But there was hardly any distinction in qualification to the tertiary level. The numbers of males and females pursuing degrees in local universities have been comparable over the past three years, said the ministry.

Boys not in a hurry to grow up, says mum
When 14-year-old Nicholas Fung was in primary school, the playful boy spent hours playing video games and football with friends. His mother, Madam Janice Ong, said: “He seemed to be in a daze in primary school. He was more interested in play.” Compared to his older sister, Jerica, who is now 17, Nicholas seemed to be weaker in his studies, especially in language, noticed Madam Ong, a housewife.

Today, Madam Ong is glad that both her children have also developed interests of their own – Nicholas is sporty and plays table tennis for his school while Jerica is a musical talent who plays the guzheng. Nicholas picked up table tennis at the age of six and joined the Singapore Table Tennis Association’s Junior Development Squad for primary school pupils. He trains four times a week and has won awards representing his secondary school.

Jerica, now in her first year of junior college, has been playing the guzheng since Primary 1. Two years later, she auditioned and got into the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts’ School of Young Talents programme that trains students in music, dance, art and drama. In 2013, she joined the Singapore Youth Chinese Orchestra and has taken part in local competitions.

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Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.