Earlier this year, it was announced that Singapore will be removing mid-year examinations for secondary school students by 2024. In his March speech, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said that secondary schools will no longer follow streaming starting 2024.
This decision was done a day after 5 Parliament members pushed for subject-based banding instead of streaming.
In lieu of this campaign, the country will adopt subject-based banding to help students take on subjects based on their strengths. They will also no longer be classified as “Normal” or “Express” students.
Subjects will be taught at 3 levels, with G for “General”
– G1 – Technical subjects under the normal curriculum
– G2 – Academic subjects under the normal curriculum
– G3 – Subjects under the express curriculum
Once students enter Sec 4, they will take on a test that will replace the current O-Level and N-Level tests. If they have successfully completed the program, they will receive a standard certificate that will not show their streaming syllabus.
This certificate is recognized worldwide and will have Cambridge and Singapore written on it.
Helping students discover the “joy of learning”
The Ministry said that this move was done to help students discover the joy of learning. Before this announcement, experts have seen negative trends in students under the Normal curriculum.
Most students lose their interest in learning, especially about topics not included in the curriculum. Some are even resigned that they cannot go up a higher level because of their “Normal” classification.
Under the previous system, they can only take up to 2 advanced subjects once they reach Sec 3. They must also show consistent high marks during their Sec 1 and Sec 2 years.
Other students are also prone to burning out because of their exam results. If their scores are not high, it may affect their chances of getting to the schools they want. It is also a bad mark to their record.
Some parents are also very particular with high grades, adding to the stress felt by their children. There are also students who lose their confidence because of their curriculum.
Singapore to Adopt Subject-Based Banding
With the new policy, schools will now be able to change their curriculum and make it more interesting for students. Teachers can now adjust their fast-paced lessons and make it easy to follow.
It will also help them get time to help students understand the subject better and identify those who need extra tutoring. While it opens doors for teachers to use other mediums to teach their classes, the teachers can now expound more about the subject using their own discretion.
This means can look into mediums like online teaching, videos and interactive lessons, which can take a day or more to help kids enjoy their classes.
Students, meanwhile, will now be able to learn at their own speed and not have to fear discrimination. They can also take subjects depending on their skills and not because of their streaming curriculum. It is also a good way to reduce the stress they feel during their examinations.
With the new system, exam results will no longer be the only way students can get high marks. They will also learn a lot better under the new system since lessons are no longer rushed due to the mid-year exams.
More time means better preparations!
The Move is Welcoming
The ministry had given schools until 2021 to apply the policy changes. However, the move is now making strides according to Minister Ong in his speech at a teacher’s conference last month. He even said it will be applied ahead of schedule, stressing that it will be enforced nationwide starting next year.
According to the Straits Times report, Minister Ong updated the teachers about the policy’s application in select schools. He said that even if the initial date of the policy was set in 2024, schools are taking the initiative to apply the policy earlier than planned.
Some schools, he said, applied the policy change this year and will be felt by their current Primary 4 students. Others are also starting their transition to the new policy and looking to remove other exams for other levels, much earlier than expected.
“As for secondary schools, more than 90 per cent of secondary schools would be removing their S3 mid-year examinations in 2020, also a year ahead of schedule,” said the Minister.
Students currently in Sec 1 will no longer have their mid-year exams this year as part of the changes.
According to Minister Ong, the initiative shown by Singaporean schools is ushering a new campaign in educating and testing students. It also opens a way for students to broaden their horizon when it comes to learning and challenge themselves without fuzzing about their exam results.
Minister Ong also added that several schools have expressed their interest to join in the pilot trial next year. However, he said that only 30 schools (or less) will be selected for the pilot so they can assist schools as they enact these changes.
He also said that it will make it easier for the Ministry to see what changes can be applied to the program before it is launched nationwide.
Currently, 25 schools have been selected to begin the program ahead of the others.
Exciting Details to be Release in Next Few Months
The MOE is scheduled to release further details about the policy in the next few months. These details will include transitioning from PLSE T-scores to the new achievement levels.
This transition will start in 2021 and will be felt by this year’s batch of Primary 4 students. Teachers and principals will also be given a primer which they can use to explain the policy changes to students and their parents.
The new program presents a big change for Singaporean students because their current system is now 40 years old. It is the hope of the Ministry and its advocates that it will help improve the quality of education immensely for generations to come.
They also hope that it will be the key for students to enjoy learning even more without the extra stress presented by their exams.
Definitely good news for our students!
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