SINGAPORE: Dividing students into Normal and Express streams in secondary school has "very successfully" improved educational outcomes, but the Government needs to recognise the "trade-off between customisation and stigmatisation", Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Monday (Feb 18).
Mr Ong said this in a written response to a parliamentary question by Member of Parliament Louis Ng, who had asked if the Ministry of Education (MOE) has studied the effects of streaming on secondary school students' self-esteem and confidence.
On Sunday, Mr Ong said he will announce measures to “significantly improve” the education system during the upcoming Committee of Supply debates, following Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's Budget 2019 statement in Parliament on Monday.
In his written reply, Mr Ong said that MOE introduced streaming in 1980 to "systematically customise learning for students of different profiles".
The move "has very successfully lowered student attrition and improved educational outcomes", Mr Ong said.
Studies by the National Institute of Education have also shown that some Normal Academic students - after spending some years in secondary schools - were similar or more confident academically relative to some Express students, Mr Ong said.
However, teachers have also reported that students in Normal Streams may over time also lose confidence and the mindset of growth and development, Mr Ong said.
"Factors impacting self-esteem and confidence are complex and multi-faceted ... The trade-off between customisation and stigmatisation is something we need to recognise," he said.
MOE is working on blurring the lines between education streams, Mr Ong added, citing measures such as out-of-stream subjects, subject-based banding and the Polytechnic Foundation Programme.