Singapore Ministry of Education has announced major changes to the country’s primary and secondary education system, cutting down on traditional school tests by almost a quarter as it looks to urge students to “Learn for Life” rather than learn for exams.

The new changes are in line with Singapore’s vision of educating pupils for the 21st century. Per the changes, students in early years of education will face fewer exams. In particular, the first two primary school years will have no exams at all or tests.

In a statement, the ministry said the focus was to make learning fun. “To meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world, our students need to be lifelong learners.” The ministry said that in order to nurture lifelong learners, the ministry “needed to help students discover more joy and develop stronger intrinsic motivation in learning”.

According to proposals that are to be implemented by 2021, there will be no more mid-year examinations for the ‘transition years’ that are primary 3, primary 5, secondary 1 and secondary 3. This will aid students to adapt to new subjects.

And since there will be lesser exams, the system will have an estimated additional three weeks in every two years, teachers will be encouraged “explore more meaningful learning”.

Per reports, from 2019 onward, the report book will no longer present certain academic indicators such as class and level positions of the students enabling each student to focus on their learning progress, and discourage excessive peer comparisons. Marks will also be rounded off to whole numbers.

The Singapore Ministry of Education also plans to remove weighted assessment at the primary 1 and primary 2 levels, a put a qualitative description of the students’ learning instead.

The move will hopefully reduce the stress on children enrolled in Singapore’s schools. The island country has one of the best education systems in the world and Singaporean students are known to excel in all and every stream of education around the world.

Singapore Ministry of Education Director General Wong Siew Hoong said the changes had been a result of 20 years of analysis and not just a sudden change of plans.

He said that besides assessments, curriculum and pedagogy also fell in the ‘triangle’ of teaching and learning. Hoong added that the ministry had made key shifts in the areas as well over the years, such as reducing subject content and removing school rankings.

 

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