Q5: On the Singapore education system vs. others (SUSS Ministerial Forum 2019)

I think parents pay a lot of attention to this, they can probably cool and chill a little bit. Students maybe can also cool and chill a little bit. But I would say by and large, our education system does a good job of making sure that many of the students learn important skills and master them well. Whether it is in the schools, you are talking about English, Maths, Science and other subjects, whether it is in the universities. We are looking for a more focused education. Our students may not be the rowdiest in class. I don’t know what the five-year old you met did, which impressed you, I think it’s quite good for five-year olds to run around and want to turn the world upside down. But I think our children in class, are more… I’m not sure what is the right word – ‘subdued’ probably, not ‘docile’, but 乖. And maybe therefore they hoist in more, in class. You can change that balance. I think it depends on the teacher. In the old days, we used to sit in rows, like you are sitting in rows now, listening patiently to the person in front talking, who is a teacher. But nowadays, the classrooms are not organised like that. You have got work groups, you have got clusters, they run around, they interact with one another, they explore different ways to solve problems. I cannot say that every class is like that. I have seen classes which are like that. And the test, finally, is when you go overseas, and you go into a different environment like in the overseas system, do you do good or do you do poorly? And I didn’t ask how you did when you were overseas, but I imagine you did okay. So it must mean that our system is doing something right when you go overseas, you are able to hold your own and you can say, “Well the system may be different but we are not bad after all, I think we have a chance in this world.” We will try to find the right balance going along. We are always trying to adjust our examinations to make them less book-focused. But unfortunately, the parents and the tutors, and the tuition centres are very good at making a book to teach them how to pass the latest exam.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *