MOE will “dial back the overemphasis” on exam results: Ong Ye Kung

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Education Minister Ong Ye Kung announced in Parliament today that the Ministry will continue to “dial back the overemphasis” on examination results. The Ministry will undertake a number of measures to achieve this, including revising Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring and enhancing Applied and Experiential Learning in schools.

Ong, who was recently promoted to take full control of the Ministry of Education (MOE) in the latest Cabinet reshuffle, announced this as part of MOE’s addendum to the President’s address.

The Minister, who one of three frontrunners tipped to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said that reducing the overemphasis on exam scores will increase the joy of learning and inspire a passion for lifelong learning: “As an Asian society, we put strong focus on academic excellence, but we need to continue to dial back the overemphasis on examination results, which can dampen the enthusiasm for learning.”

Besides being “on track” to transforming PSLE scoring, the Minister added that Applied and Experiential Learning in schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) will encourage students to learn by doing. This will “cultivate an innovative spirit” in students and help them apply their knowledge and skills when they leave school.

On top of this, MOE is planning on enhancing outdoor learning and activities. Besides focusing on making the learning of languages “encouraging and fun”, MOE also has plans to deepen students’ understanding of the nation, society, the region and the world.

MOE will also continue to build “smart schools” that will help students better prepare for the future and will further develop the Singapore Student Learning Space platform that will allow students to learn “anytime, anywhere and at their own pace.”

Additionally, teachers will be positioned as “designers of learning experiences” and take advantage of technology to enhance learning experiences.

The efforts of the MOE, especially that seen in programmes like the Institute of Technical Education’s (ITE) Work-Learn Technical Diploma, the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn and Work-Study Degree programmes, will help recognise talents beyond solely academic strengths.

This will help uncover and develop students’ talents by making multiple pathways available to them across the education system. Ong added: “Through initiatives such as Direct School Admission in schools and aptitude-based admission in IHLs, we recognise the interests and non-academic abilities of students in our admission systems.”

Ong said that IHLs will also undergo a “major change” and expand its offerings of industry-relevant and modular training courses that will build a “vibrant and high-quality lifelong learning industry that enables continual up-skilling and re-skilling of the workforce”.

He elaborated: “All these efforts are anchored on the philosophy of SkillsFuture, which is to support all Singaporeans, regardless of their starting points, to uncover their strengths and interests, and learn throughout life through multiple pathways to develop skills mastery…Over time, our society will embrace a broad meritocracy of skills.”