Singapore’s game changing education system

Learning is not a competition.

Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Education Minister

When I think of the education system in Singapore I think of a system that is ranked among the best if not the best itself.

Over the past Singapore has been a tough compotator in IEA’s Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), a series of international assessments of the mathematics and science knowledge of students around the world.

The diagrams below show the top 10 countries that participated in TIMSS in the past. Grouped by subject and year.

The only year Singapore was ranked very low was in 1995 when their fourth graders performed at the bottom of the top 10 with 547 points in Science. Since then and for every year and subject, they’ve never performed outside the top 5.

According to an article by Johnny Wood for the World Economic Forum, discussions, homework and quizzes are set to replace marks and grades as the preferred method of collecting information on the performance of young primary school pupils. Starting in 2019, exams for primary years 1 and 2 students will be abolished.    

Singapore is among other countries such as Finland and Japan that have abolished exams for primary school children.

In addition, primary and secondary school report books will no longer indicate whether a pupil finishes top or bottom of the class, while subject and group averages, overall total marks and minimum and maximum grades are set to disappear. School reports will not show underlined or highlighted failing grades or record a pass or fail result at the end of year.

Shifting the focus away from exam perfection towards creating more rounded individuals represents a serious change of
direction for Singapore. Alongside academic performance the new policies aim to foster social development among pupils to
raise self awareness and build decision-making skills.

Johnny Wood , Writer, Formative Content
About Mduduzi Mbiza 110 Articles
Mduduzi Mbiza is a creator. Author of the book, ‘Human Education: The Voyage of Discovery’.