At end 2018, the Singaporean educational system announced its decision to shift away from the old age grade system to a more relaxed grading system, impacting both local and international schools in Singapore. There will be no more examination rankings in primary and secondary schools – something numerous international schools in Singapore are doing. This is done in a bid to prevent students from comparing grades but instead, focus on self-improvement. It is of the opinion that, in the long run, this method will be more beneficial to the future of Singapore’s students as opposed to viewing grades as the determinant of success in life, though this belief is entrenched in the current Asian culture.
Singapore’s Ministry of Education stated that it will no longer be indicated in report cards whether a child finishes first or last in a class in order to stop children likening themselves in what can be perceived as a form of competition. Information concerning the details of the student’s grades such as the minimum and maximum remarks, average subject grades, and the total score obtained by the student will not be included as well. As a directive, the remark stating if a student “fail or pass” should be removed together with the highlighting of below passing grade marks.
Learning is not a competition but self-discipline
Ye Kung Ong – Singapore’s Minister of Education argued: “I know that ‘coming in first or second’, in class or level, has traditionally been a proud recognition of a student’s achievement. But removing these indicators is for (a) good reason so that the child understands from young that learning is not a competition but self-discipline they need to master for life.” The “pressure-cooker-like” atmosphere that encapsulates schools in Singapore – not leaving out the international schools – is seen as too much for children (at an early stage in life they are subjected to intense pressure) and is detrimental to their creativity and productivity.
However, teachers and parents alike will still be able to track the progress of their students or child respectively. This will be via homework, quizzes, forums or debates. Instead of marks and grades, the use of what is called qualitative descriptors will be used as markers for indicating, albeit subtly, the progress students have made over the course of the academic year at the primary level. Students at secondary school levels will have their grade point rounded up into whole integers instead of putting them out in raw decimal figures that place emphasis on the minute details of the student’s score. The rationale for all these changes is to take the focus away from such a high academic emphasis.
Parents will, however, be updated with their child’s progress during parent-teacher meetings.
Positive influence of International Schools system
This new reform influenced by international schools in Singapore is a big move away from the old system still in use around the world by educational bodies. Singapore is trying to set the pace as regards to educational reforms. They’ve been at the forefront of educational excellence for quite some time now, so it bodes well if they decide to breathe a new life to the sector and shake things up. It remains to be seen if fellow education hubs will follow suit. Whether they do so, however, depends on the authorities of such nations.