SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) will continue with its efforts to “dial back the overemphasis” on examination results, including changing the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring and enhancing Applied and Experiential Learning in schools, said its minister Ong Ye Kung on Thursday (May 10).
In its addendum to the President’s address Mr Ong, who now oversees the whole ministry after the Cabinet reshuffle, said that it will foster the joy of learning in students and foster a passion for lifelong learning.
“As an Asian society, we put strong focus on academic excellence, but we need to continue to dial back the overemphasis on examination results, which can dampen the enthusiasm for learning,” he said.
As such, MOE is “on track” to implement the changes to the PSLE scoring and Secondary One posting systems in 2021. The ministry had announced in July 2016 that students taking PSLE will be graded with Achievement Levels of 1 to 8 in each subject, with their final score made up of the sum of these levels.
To ensure that education continues to be a platform for social mixing, the 27 secondary schools that offer their affiliated primary school students priority in the Secondary One posting exercise will have to reserve 20 per cent of their places for students with no affiliation from 2019, the ministry said in March last year.
MOE will also enhance Applied and Experiential Learning in schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs). Mr Ong said through learning by doing, students will be able to “cultivate an innovative spirit” and apply their knowledge and skills in the real world.
The ministry is also rolling out plans for enhanced outdoor learning and activities, as well as deepening students’ understanding of the nation and society, the region and the world. It will also build on the country’s bilingual language foundation and “make the learning of languages encouraging and fun”, the minister said.
It will continue to develop “smart schools” to better prepare students for the future, such as the continued deployment of the Singapore Student Learning Space platform so students can learn “anytime, anywhere and at their own pace”.
Teachers, too, will be positioned as “designers of learning experiences” so they can use technology to improve learning experiences and promote collaboration, he added.
RECOGNISING TALENTS BEYOND ACADEMIC ONES
Mr Ong said the ministry will support students in uncovering their strengths and developing their talents by ensuring multiple pathways are available across the education system.
This can be seen through programmes like the Institute of Technical Education’s (ITE) Work-Learn Technical Diploma, the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn and Work-Study Degree programmes.
He added: “Through initiatives such as Direct School Admission in schools and aptitude-based admission in IHLs, we recognise the interests and non-academic abilities of students in our admission systems.”
For IHLs, there will also be a “major change” in that they will significantly expand their offerings of industry-relevant and modular training programmes so as to build a “vibrant and high-quality lifelong learning industry that enables continual up-skilling and re-skilling of the workforce”, the minister said.
“All these efforts are anchored on the philosophy of SkillsFuture, which is to support all Singaporeans, regardless of their starting points, to uncover their strengths and interests, and learn throughout life through multiple pathways to develop skills mastery,” Mr Ong said.
“Over time, our society will embrace a broad meritocracy of skills.”