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'Just put him in EM3': Glenn Yong says he ignored dad for 18 months after being placed in lowest school stream

'Just put him in EM3': Glenn Yong says he ignored dad for 18 months after being placed in lowest school stream
Actor Glenn Yong said that he was in EM3 in primary school.
PHOTO: Instagram/Glenn Yong

Local actor Glenn Yong will always remember tearing up in the cinema while watching I Not Stupid Too as a 10-year-old.

Besides inspiring him to become an actor, the movie also hit a little too close to home, as he was placed in EM3 after the streaming year in Primary 4.

The EM (referring to English and Mother Tongue) streaming system was used in local primary school education in the 1990s to sort students into different tracks according to their abilities, with EM3 for students who had more difficulties academically. The EM3 stream was scrapped in 2008 and replaced by Subject-Based Banding in primary schools.

Speaking to AsiaOne last week on the set of Jack Neo's new movie I Not Stupid 3, the 26-year-old, who plays teacher Mr Lee, said: "I remember I promised my parents that I won't get into EM3, but in the end I really got into EM3 because I played computer games and didn't study."

Jack, who was also present at the interview, was surprised at Glenn's revelation.

"You were from EM3? Oh my god!" he exclaimed.

Glenn added that although he did badly in his examinations during his streaming year, his teachers offered to put him in EM2 because he was in the best class in Primary 4 and they still saw potential in him.

However, Glenn's father rejected the offer.

He shared: "I remember hearing my dad say, 'No, just put him in EM3, he didn't study so he should just go to EM3 and receive the punishment and learn his lesson.'

"I didn't talk to my father for at least one and a half years after that, all the way until my PSLE because I was very angry."

Jack asked Glenn: "So you were still in EM3 during PSLE? Was it easier?"

Glenn said: "To me it was okay, because I did study. I think at that time, the highest grade that you can get in EM3 was about 150-plus and you could barely get into Normal Academic [stream in secondary school].

"I got first place in my class, so I went to Normal Academic and to Express stream afterwards."

Jack added: "So you are one of those who?reached enlightenment [in education] later."

Despite what he went through, Glenn said that it was a good learning experience and he respected his parents for it.

"I think my parents are the kind who give?me a lot of freedom to make my own choices on whether I want to study hard or not. I mean, they would?encourage me but not force me," he said.

He added that he is "happy" because his parents' way of handling his education allows him to learn from his mistakes.

Jack, who agreed?with Glenn, said: "It's real, a lot of parents are already very anxious once they see that their children are in EM3."

"My parents really let me learn and see if I can encourage myself. I really respect them for that. It was a huge gamble," Glenn added.

'I'm a pretty rebellious kid who always wants to make a change'

When asked what type of a student he was when he was in school, Glenn?said that he's always had a rebellious streak.

"I think I'm quite a rebellious student. I like to break rules and test the system," said Glenn.

He assured us that it was in a good way, such as the time he tried to get his secondary school to start a new CCA.

Glenn shared: "In my secondary school, we didn't have football CCA. We only had basketball and softball. In my primary school, I was in a football CCA, so I got the entire Secondary One cohort to sign a petition to start the CCA. We even got to the MOE approval stage."

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Although the plan was scrapped in the end due to a lack of budget, Glenn learned that he has the ability to spark positive change.

"That gave me a lot of confidence… because I can inspire people to join a cause and do something together," he said.

Glenn also added that he was grateful he had a lot of guidance from the right people in his life who helped to steer him in a good direction.

He said: "It's quite dangerous if I'm guided in the wrong direction. I'm glad that I have a lot of teachers and mentors in my life who helped me to cultivate this skill set into something that is more useful and also something that can spark a more positive change.

"But yeah, I will say, I'm a pretty rebellious kid who always wants to make a change."

I Not Stupid 3 is currently in production and also stars Terence Cao, Collin Chee, Patricia Mok, Xixi Lim, Jae Liew and Lin Ruping. The movie is set to release next year.

ALSO READ:?'My dream has come true!' Glenn Yong cast as teacher in I Not Stupid 3

yeo.shuhui@asiaone.com

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