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No more competition at schools in Singapore

Anushka Yadav
No more competition at schools in Singapore

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung believes that “learning is not a competition” and has taken a firm step to apply his belief in practice. From next year in Singapore, the primary and secondary school report books won’t indicate nor highlight a child’s rank in finishing first or last in relation to class or cohort.

 Information such as Class and level mean, Minimum and maximum marks, Underlining and/or colouring of failing marks, Pass/fail for end-of-year result, Mean subject grades, Overall total marks, and L1R5 (English plus five relevant subjects), L1R4, EMB3 (English, maths, best three subjects) and EMB1 for lower secondary levels will be dropped from the report.

On September 28, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said that the change is to shift the focus of overly concerned students from comparisons towards their learning progress.

Schools will have to replace marks and grades with “qualitative descriptors” to evaluate pupil progress.

Beginning from next year, pupils of Primary 1 and 2 will be exempted from examinations while their assessment will not count towards an overall grade. To reduce the focus on academic scores, marks, for older students in primary and secondary schools, in each subject will be presented as a whole number, with decimal points, after rounding it off.

The Minister of Education, further, said that teachers will continue to gather information regarding a pupil’s learning through active discussions, homework, and quizzes. And the gathered information will be given to parents during parent-teacher meetings.

In an address to some 1,700 school leaders earlier this week, Mr. Ong said: “Notwithstanding, the report book should still contain some form of yardstick and information to allow students to judge their relative performance, and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.”

He also said: “I know that ‘coming in first or second’, in class or level, has traditionally been a proud recognition of a student’s achievement. But removing these indicators is for a good reason so that the child understands from young that learning is not a competition, but a self-discipline they need to master for life.”

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