Singapore — Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on May 28, Tuesday, that over 90 percent of secondary schools and over 50 percent of primary schools will be scrapping the midyear examinations for Secondary 3 and Primary 3 and 5, respectively.
Mr Ong said that this is occurring one year ahead of schedule.
This move, along with other changes from the Ministry of Education (MOE), is aimed at lessening the stress that students feel due to the heavy emphasis on obtaining high grades, and for the students to enjoy learning.
The scrapping of the midyear exams was announced by Mr Ong in September of last year, which would be enacted in stages by 2021.
For this school year, there were actually no more midyear exams for Secondary 1, and all graded assessments and examinations for students in Primary 1 and 2 have also been done away with.
The Education Minister announced that the removal of these midyear exams is well underway at the biennial teachers’ conference at the Singapore Expo. He said that numerous schools are planning to implement changes ahead of schedule. Some schools, he added, are running two years ahead of the prescribed timetable from the MOE, and other schools are doing away with midyear exams for grade levels not indicated in MOE’s list of changes.
He said at the conference,
“So what we are seeing is that the mentality of competing for even higher scores in even more tests and examinations is giving way to a new movement, to take a balanced approach in teaching and assessments, and bring about greater joy of learning.
This shift was made possible because of the wise judgement of educators, and with the support of parents.”
Mr Ong also said that the two-year language elective programme currently available in some junior colleges will also be made available to 15 secondary schools from 2020 onwards, to encourage multilingualism.
Anderson Secondary School, Bukit Panjang Government High School, and Tanjong Katong Secondary School will be offering the Malay language elective programme.
Commonwealth Secondary School, Riverside Secondary School, and Yishun Town Secondary School will be offering the Tamil programme.
The Anglican High School, Chung Cheng High School (Main), Dunman High School, Hwa Chong Institution, Maris Stella High School, Nan Chiau High School, Nan Hua High School, Nanyang Girls’ High School and Temasek Junior College (Secondary Section) will be offering the Chinese language elective programme. Most of the schools offering Chinese are Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools, but Mr Ong said that while it is natural to start with these schools”, he acknowledged the need to “to broaden participation” by offering the Chinese language elective programme to other schools as well.
More junior colleges, such as the National Junior College, Raffles Institution and Anderson Serangoon Junior College, will be offering the language elective programme as well.
Mr Ong said that there are more pupils taking Higher Mother Tongue Language at the GCE O Level.
He emphasized how important language learning is in different countries all over the world, saying “I believe we are at a historic juncture where learning of languages has the potential to thrive.
First, our region is prospering. South-east Asia, India, and China are all growing. Singapore’s multiculturalism gives us a great economic advantage in this environment. Parents and students know that.”
The number of bilingual families in Singapore has boomed as well.
Mr Ong noted that one definite advantage of bilingualism is its “significant economic value”, and how important it is to any nation’s cultural identity.
According to the Education Minister, “We cannot just adopt someone else’s culture. We need to learn our own Mother Tongue languages to understand the cultures of our respective communities. Then, over a long period of time, we collectively draw from our respective ancestral cultures to build our own unique Singapore identity.” /TISG