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Education in Singapore: Are we missing some points?

Jul 02, 2019

The surrounding education of the official narrative is changing gradually. In Singapore, the academic prowess plays a crucial role in the path of one’s career and future success. Heng Swee Keat, Finance Minister, and former Education Minister have said recently that an overemphasis on the credentialism or someone’s material achievements and academic results is a restricted manner of judging the success that can influence how well Singapore progresses.

The present education ministers Mr. Ng Chee Meng (Schools) and Mr. Ong Ye Kung (Higher Education and Skills) have given an emphasis on the importance of the versatile education with consideration to the values, passions and non-academic interests for setting the stage for the love of learning for a lifetime.

Education and employability

Education is closely linked to employability. In 2014, after the release of the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) Committee’s report, an announcement was made that the non-graduates in the civil service who showed good performance and are ready to take on the greater responsibilities will be able to make faster progress in their careers that are based on their performance at work instead o the academic performance.

The ASPIRE Committee also laid stress on the significance of not depending on the grades and the paper qualifications in the process of hiring. Most of the job postings concerning civil service reflect a Bachelor’s degree as a pre-requisite. Over the years, the reward system for the scholars has energized the perceptions that raised the academic pressure. The parents demand to secure certain advantages like priority employment in the civil service that comes with the scholarships.

It is said by Lim Soon Hock, the Founder and Managing Director of Plan-B ICAG Pte Ltd. That Singapore would have arrived if the Next PM is not anyone from the elite administrative service, but an ordinary person having special skills, like a great painter, a businessman who is successful or a sportsman.

The version of the business leaders

As per the business leaders, while the education system is capable of producing high academic averages and does good in the international tests, the graduates of Singapore tend to lack creativity and confidence. The preoccupation on the academic qualifications is not serving the citizens. An ideological shift is required in actions and the Ministry of Education is trying in encouraging it within the school system. The educators have admitted that it will take time as they learn to adapt to the new methods of teaching for supporting self-directed learning.

From the point of education

Employability is crucial, but society requires to answer the complex questions too. Decades of over-fixation on grades and the educational streaming have left a stubborn mark on the spirit of Singapore. In some part, the fixation on the grades was preserved by the government to such an extent that the shift of the model is met with doubts.

The current situation

Currently, the schools have made an introduction to the subject-based banding as a rarefaction to the streaming process for helping each child realize his/her potential depending on his/her strengths and interests. It may decrease the labelling impact that arrived with the old system.

Efforts are made to integrate students. From the year 2019, the affiliated secondary schools are reserving 20% of their Secondary One places for the incoming students who don’t possess any priority of affiliation. The Ministry of Education is setting aside a minimum of 40 places in each primary school for the kids who lack a prior link to the school.

In spite of the present changes, as long as people keep on believing that entering in specific schools will make or break the future of the children, the stress and the competition will remain.

The stress has triggered concerns over how parentocracy may have replaced meritocracy in Singapore.

The probable solutions

It is important to provide equal opportunities in education to the students of all genres, be it science, commerce or arts, and along with it, the stress can be reduced if the consideration of the true objectives of education can come to a halt. The students must be able to find themselves. Integration of students can well instead of stratification along the socio-economic and academic lines.

Collaborative learning can decrease academic competition and have other positive social impacts too. Schools should communicate differently about the assessments and the exams. Finding out the problem areas of each student will help in overall development. Exams shouldn’t be the best process to assess anyone’s ability. Encouragement should be provided to the students to love lifelong learning.

Summary

Education is closely linked to employability. In 2014, after the release of the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) Committee’s report, an announcement was made that the non-graduates in the civil service who showed good performance and are ready to take on the greater responsibilities will be able to make faster progress in their careers that are based on their performance at work instead o the academic performance.

Sudipto Das

Sudipto writes educational content periodically for MyPrivateTutor Singapore and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got more than 5 years of experience in digital marketing, SEO and graphic designing.

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