Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Monday (16 Aug) emphasised the need to adopt a broader definition of success to lessen the stress that students feel from being put through Singapore’s education system.

Mr Chan was responding to a question raised by Economic Development Board’s (EDB) managing director Chng Kai Fong at the Social-Economic Nexus Speaking Engagement Forum, who asked what needed to be done for Singapore to maintain its edge.

The minister recounted his conversation with some secondary school and junior college students, where he asked them how they would feel if the Ministry of Education (MOE) decided to cut their subject syllabus by half.

He noted that the students had cautioned him to be careful with the decision as it would mean that everyone would be trying to “ace the remaining half [of the subjects] rather than just aiming for 90 marks for the whole syllabus”.

Following the students’ feedback, Mr Chan said that the extra free time should be used to allow students to pursue new skills, interests or hobbies, because it might “paradoxically increase” their stress if the free time were used to focus on academic grades.

He believes that by doing so, society can be “much more diverse and much more resilient”.

Mr Chan also learnt from his conversation with the students that there needs to be a wider definition of success, what it means to go through a school system, and what it equips students with beyond academic knowledge.

Meanwhile, the minister hinted that MOE is exploring ways to move away from a rote learning system to one where students are able to use the information they have learned to solve problems.

Mr Chan noted that he was told by corporate leaders that they are looking for something beyond the students’ grades and soft skills that go beyond what is taught in school.

“If more of our corporate leaders can come and share with our students and schools on what the new world is looking for, what are some of the skill sets that we are looking for, then I think we will have a slightly different perspective on what is most important going through the school system,” he added.

Netizens called on the Govt to abolish PSLE, some suggest to review the syllabus

Penning their thoughts under the comments section of TODAY’s Facebook post, many netizens called on the Government to abolish the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) as they noted that the scoring system is giving pressure on students to excel in exams.

Some netizens noted that MOE should be reviewing the syllabus instead of reducing the syllabus.

“Abolish PSLE to allow children to learn at their own pace. This will allow children to move on to higher education without having to go through the stress. Spore education system is too competitive. Why the need to compete with other nations? Such system only destroys the child’s enjoyment and the willingness to study,” said one netizen.

Another netizen wrote: “Don’t think syllabus is the problem. Assessment is the problem and categorising/ labelling students to different streams based on PSLE or ‘N’/‘O’ level is the problem. Make assessments less stressful and more practical. Remove PSLE and students should be able to enter secondary schools based on their merits accumulated throughout their primary school years.”

Several other netizens questioned which schools were the students – whom Mr Chan said he had a conversation with – from, noting that the students’ feedback “might not represent the entire school population”.

One netizen commented: “When a minister chooses a particular “feedback”, it is one that he or the ministry wants to focus on, it’s the narrative that they subscribe to. Do you really think they base their decision on one, subjective view?”


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