Monday, 2 September 2013

Tweaks in Our SG education

Highlights of PM Lee's speech - Education System

At the Institute of Technical Education College Central last night, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said shifts to social policies in housing, health care and education will be needed

The Government will add 20,000 childcare places in the next five years. It will also contribute to the Edusave accounts of every student aged seven to 16, including homeschoolers, and madrasah and overseas students. From next year, at least 40 places, or 10 to 15 per cent of enrolment, will be set aside at every primary school for children with no prior connection to the school.

The current Primary 1 admission process, which gives priority to siblings and children of alumni, will be preserved. This helps each school develop unique traditions, history and identities. A different scoring system in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be created, based on wider bands like in the O and A levels. The Education Ministry will provide more flexibility and choice in secondary schools for students to tailor their education to their abilities and development. For example, Secondary 1 students in all streams will be able to take a subject at a higher level if they have done well in that subject in PSLE.

To keep admission to top secondary schools open, the Direct School Admissions categories will be broadened to admit outstanding students with special qualities, such as character, resilience, drive and leadership.

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ND Rally: Primary 1 registration exercise to be tweaked

The government plans to tweak the Primary 1 registration exercise, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally Speech on Sunday.

From next year, each primary school will set aside at least 40 places for children with no prior connection with the school. This is likely to be in Phases 2B and 2C. This translates to about 10 to 15 per cent of enrolment for each school. Mr Lee said the move will give every child the chance to enter the primary school of their choice.

Phases 1 to 2A of the Primary 1 registration exercise are for children who have prior connection to the school of choice.

ND Rally: PSLE scoring system to be overhauled

ND Rally: Top secondary schools must stay open to all, says PM Lee

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said top secondary schools must remain open to talents from all backgrounds and produce graduates who become assets to Singapore.

Many top secondary schools in Singapore have long history and traditions -- some even longer than Singapore's.

Mr Lee said these schools have very high standards and have produced many leaders -- in the private sector, social services and government.

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PSLE: Wider bands instead of aggregate score

THE Ministry of Education plans to change the way it scores the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and use wider bands for grades, like in the "O" and "A' level examinations.

Speaking at the annual National Day Rally speech on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the intent is to reduce excessive competition from pupils chasing every last point.

He noted that a one-point margin in PSLE scores today can make a difference in the secondary school one is eventually posted to. With the proposed change, which he said would take several years to take effect, an A* will still be an A* whether one scores 91 or 99 marks. This will provide the space to educate and develop students in a more holistic manner, he said.

EDUCATION: Primary woes over registration, PSLE

PANIC, anguish, relief and sometimes anger. These are the emotions that recur each year - during the annual Primary 1 registration season.

And as soon as it ends, students and parents of another age group face a second perennial high-stress exercise - the PSLE. The parents and students are different each year, but they all experience the same roller coaster of emotions.

These two annual events have become symbols of an education system that many believe needs reform, as income inequality widens, social mobility slows, and aspirations evolve and alter the expectations of what an education should provide.

National Day Rally 2013: Wider bands for PSLE grading, changes to P1 school admission

Starting from next year, the Ministry of Education will reserve 40 places in every primary school for applicants in phase 2B and 2C of the Primary One Registration Exercise.

This means that in addition to the number of vacancies left over after phase 2A2, another mandatory 40 places will be split equally between phases 2B and 2C.

The follow-up announcement comes after Prime Minister Lee said in his National Day Rally speech that Singapore's education system is set to undergo several changes to become a more open, holistic and less over-competitive one.

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National Day Rally

Education was one of the topic given a heavy focus by PM Lee in his National Day Rally Speech.

Highlighting the importance of education, PM Lee said that the government will be contributing to the EduSave accounts of all children aged 7 to 16. This includes home schoolers, madrasah and those studying overseas. 

Mr Lee highlighted that the school system needs to be recalibrated  to put more emphasis on actual learning rather than exam performance. In his speech about education, the PM kept emphasizing the need to have an open system: an open system which allows outstanding students to make it to the top and to open up the system to focus on more than just grades.

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Gaming the education numbers

The National Day Rally topic that has got Singaporeans talking is… Education. Not universal health coverage, nor affordable HDB flats. Parents are speaking up and the tone is changing, from one which welcomed the tweaks to Primary One registration and PSLE scoring system to one which wonders if the changes actually do anything at all in terms of alleviating stress for their children – and themselves.

It shows that people are knuckling down to looking at the details of proposed changes, rather than viewing them as a whole – a point which Education Minister Heng Swee Keat lamented at a dialogue yesterday according to MSM.

But, really, that’s normal. Every parent will look at changes from the point of view of what it does for them. So you have people whose primary schools have been razed to the ground complaining that they don’t even have alumni connections to fall back on. And parents who point out that those 40 reserved slots for children with no connections are actually split into two parts, with 20 meant for those with clan or other connections and voluntary service etc.

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Why PM gave little comfort on education policies

Around this time next year, I would be looking at registering my son for primary school.
I would likely be the envy of “most” parents – I am alumni to a “branded school”, although that term probably meant very little in my time.

Ironic as it seems, I worry still. My old school runs the Gifted Education Programme (to be perfectly honest, I cannot even recall if it was offered in my time). I’m worried that in the time that my little boy spends time away from me in pressure-cooker school, he would be made to somehow feel less capable than his friends simply because he is not a GEP kid, even if he has done his best.

So I sound like an ex-delinquent expecting the same of my offspring. But I do not believe that in the heart of every parent lie a pure and unadulterated ambition of sending their children to a branded school, to the exclusion of all else. I believe all parents want one thing for their children – to be happy.

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Beware pitfalls of direct admissions

The complaints have already started coming in over the education tweaks announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last Sunday.

Parents have had much to say about the changes to the Primary 1 registration scheme and the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system, but some of the strongest reactions have been to the expansion of the Direct School Admission scheme.

Mr Lee announced last Sunday in his National Day Rally speech that top secondary schools will take in more students from different backgrounds through the scheme, which allows Primary 6 pupils to secure a place even before sitting the PSLE.

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Primary one registration 2015 : Changes and impact

With the notion of making school more accessible to the masses, especially to those living within the vicinity, PM Lee had stated during his National Day Rally that all Primary schools are to set aside 40 spaces to students with no links.

Effectively this will benefit phase 2B and below as opposed to reduce places for Phase 1, 2A (1) and 2 A (2). Under the existing framework, all spaces will be allocated on availability to Phase 1, 2 A(1) and 2 A(2), before they are divided equally into phase 2B and 2C. Under this scenerios, popular schools would have most of their spaces filled by phase 2 A (2), leaving crumbs to phase 2B and 2C.

Base on the ring fencing of 40 spaces, the following school may have balloting potential to phase 2 A (2) base on this year statistics

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Understanding our Education System

There has been a lot of chatter recently given the new PSLE grading system ect. There is a general consensus that our education system is extremely stressful. That our students  are being pushed to work too hard at the expense of a work-life balance.

First of all, I’d like to point out that this is not the result of any singular faction (namely The government, the employer, the schools or the parents). It is the result of everything together. It is the Singapore formula. Whether we were socially engineered to this state, or whether this is a result of culturally acquired attributes is debatable. But more importantly, now that we acknowledge it, should we change it? What do we (try to) change it to?

Anybody who has had the luck to experience the American education system would know that its awesome. So is the British’s. I cite these two countries because not only is their educations system really ‘relaxed’ compared to our Asian ones, they also play host to a number of the top Universities in the world, plus they have amazing economies. A formula I believe we’d love to have. So what is their secret? How can they have really fun universities, focus so much on sports.. offer so many waffly subjects like painting, photography, music as actual degrees and still come out with the best universities in the world?

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Every School A Good School. Really?

But What Exactly Was PM Lee's Point? "I believe we can make every school a good school, and we have done a lot of that to ensure that every school provides a good education for the students. We give them the resources. We give them the good teachers. We emphasize values. And we've made a lot of progress towards this goal"

It was good to hear this. Instead of boasting that the MOE had already reached the goal of Every School A Good School, he communicated an intention to work towards this goal. Later though... he slipped this into his speech.

"Every school is a good school…" I rolled my eyes at that point. Really? After the OSC, he's still telling us that every school is a good school? He then continued to say...

Singapore Offers Some Relief in Academic-Grade Chase

Every September, school-going 12-year-olds in Singapore undergo what is widely seen to be the most important set of examinations in their young lives.

It’s an intense ritual. At the end of it, between 40,000 and 50,000 pupils would each receive a potentially life-defining grade. For some, that two- or three-digit number sets a path toward higher education and lucrative career choices. For others, it prescribes more modest aspirations.

All of them, though, would have endured heavy stress in one of the world’s most competitive education systems. But not for long. Singapore is set to revamp the grading system for its Primary School Leaving Examinations, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Sunday, so as to help ease undue pressures on young pupils and their parents in a society obsessed with academic achievement.

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BN Special: Letters to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister... (Image by Ernest Goh)

As someone in my mid-20s, I am heartened to hear you promise that “every Singaporean family who is working can afford a HDB flat.”

At an age where the spectre of having to save enough for my marriage and a flat of my own looms ever larger, I feel reassured by the fact that for just $67 per month (in addition to my CPF monies), I can plausibly afford a new four-room flat in Punggol. And even if I can only afford a two-room flat at first, I am glad that grants are available for me to upgrade – to keep up with the Chans and the Tans. Coupled with measures such as a record number of new flats and higher income ceilings, things are indeed looking rosy for would-be first-time buyers such as me. Thank you, I can ‘ROM’

What’s new: Education
  • From next year, every Primary school will set aside 40 places at least (10-15% of enrollment) for children with no prior connection to school
  • PSLE will be scored differently – to use wider bands for grades like in ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels
  • Secondary school students to have even more flexibility of choices of study
  • Top schools to take in students with diverse talents; more financial aid to make them accessible to all
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A disillusioned Singaporean says PM Lee needs to resign: Education

YOG & Garden by the Bay were epic failures and inexcusable waste of taxpayers money, now Gardens at the Airport? They might as well transplant the iconic old Kallang Airport aka PA HQ onto Changi Airport to safe taxpayers money! Pinkie really thinks money grow on tree is it?

Education “changes” - Ok so you changed the point system to a L1R5-like band system. So what? You reserved 40 seats for non-affiliated enrollment in top schools. You allow Normal Stream students to take the O levels. Is this Change or coins in your pockets? It is hard to understand how are these going to stamp out elitism and reduce stress on Singaporean students. Band-chasing is going to put less stress on students than mark-chasing?

Going to school with non-elites will make children of your fellow PAP MPs and Ministers less elitist? When we talk about Education “changes”, nothing has been mentioned about the lack of university places and the uphill costs of tertiary education. Right when you are calling every foreigner holding a degree “talent”, you are doing nothing to help aspiring Singaporeans obtain their degrees, so please, cut the hypocrisy and keep your change.

Despite your ludicrous proposals, there are also many issues you conveniently swerved out of – foreigner population, cost of living, COE prices, public transport breakdowns, inadequacy for retirement, media control, widening income gap, increasing corruption cases, depressed salaries, unfair NS treatment, dipping standard of living resulting in growing unhappiness among the people. These are important and valid concerns raised not just yesterday, but umpteen times in nearly every feedback channel, and your apparent overlook shows that you do not care.

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Changes to Education

Four changes were announced that night in education:
  • Reserving 40 places for primary one admission for those with no connections to the school,
  • Removing PSLE T-Score, with results being reported in bands like in the O and A-levels,
  • Secondary 1 students will be allowed to take a subject at a higher level if they have done well in that subject at PSLE, and
  • Broadening of Direct School Admission categories for selection of secondary schools.
These changes were said to be made in order to move education into a more holistic form, to move away from an over-emphasis on examinations and to put focus to learning. This is something the Workers’ Party had been calling for as well (pages 30-33 of the 2011 manifesto).

The right topics were touched on, but I had expected more. The anticipation was built up through the year-long exercise with the promise that there would be no sacred cows The steps taken in education seem incremental to me. They are nevertheless steps in the direction I wish to see.

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Heng Swee Keat shifts blame to parents

In the latest fiasco, we have the Education Minister who apparently appears oblivious to the stress students and parents face. Heng tells parents to moderate their expectations. Never mind that it was past PAP policies that led to the high pressure mode in the education system, expecting the best out of students, that's the cause of the high expectation among parents in the first place. What crap talking this minister now?

Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education. Tells parents to moderate expectations, but is totally oblivious to the fact that it is PAP's policies that started the high pressure cooker system in the Ed system that is the cause of the stress and expectation in the first place. Don't PAP ministers and MPs say the darnedest things?

Here is the report from the Straits Times: Parents' mindset key to education change: Heng

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Just Get Rid Of The PSLE!

In his National Day Rally speech last night, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong say that changes is coming for the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE). During his speech, the PM says that the PSLE changes will make it more open, holistic and less over-competitive as it has become excessively competitive and it is causing huge stress to young students and their parents.

I have a better suggestion. Get rid of the PLSE altogether!

As I have said many times before, I am totally against the PLSE. In Singapore, children take the PSLE at 12 and this test will basically dictate the rest of their lives. The average age of a Singapore is 77! There is just no need for Singapore to start sorting out children at 12. To me, the PSLE is a system that makes no sense when you compare it to how long a Singaporean is expected to live and the number of years students need to be in school.

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PSLE is Dead, Long Live PSLE! WTF?

PM Lee said PSLE is no more, or rather repackaged it a bit some time down in the future. When nobody knows. As PM said, as we all know already from kopitiam uncles to NUS academics, to decide a child's education path and fate at 12 on PSLE results is outright meaningless, however "meritocratic" it is.

Whether it is good or not, depends on whether you think the PSLE is similar to O Levels or not is good. The stress to students and their parents is still there, just that instead of the knee shaking T-score, it is now the nail-biting point system A1 - 1 point A2 - 2 points etc. Smokes and mirrors. LPPL

Anyway, PSLE is just a cultural Albatross around parents' necks. Parents conform to the belief that PSLE is the be all and end all in their children's education what. Even if they claim they don't believe in it, they participate in the chase nonetheless. The reason, if you speak to a friend, uncle, aunty, brother, sister who is a parent of a P6 kid, is that if they don't strive, there is a risk their boyboy or girlgirl would fall behind as other children and parents are way ahead hot housing for 4 A*.  LOL Time to run faster on the hamster wheel

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PSLE — Does Blurring the Difference Make Any Difference?

Instead of getting T-scores in the future, PSLE students will receive grades in bands, such as those used in the O and A level examinations.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the issue of how a one-point difference in T-score may make a difference to a student's secondary school posting.  It is a distinction which is meaningless, too fine to make. The change will reduce excessive competition to chase that last point — an A* is still an A*, whether one scores 91 marks or 99 marks, he said

PM Lee's reasoning is flawed.

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Of Singapore, Private Tuition, and Aung San Suu Kyi

It was a leading question posed by a journalist to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in her first visit to Singapore: what aspects of the Lion City might “The Lady” like to recreate in Myanmar? The question seemed fairly innocuous, albeit arguably loaded. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate dodged the bullet and fired a salvo of her own.

“I don’t think ‘recreate’ is the word, ‘learn’ yes,” said Ms Suu Kyi.

Singapore’s “work-oriented” education system, for example, leaves something to be desired.

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The Independent Singapore: The Education Conundrum

Every school is a good school
Our SG education
Tweaks in Our SG education
Mad About Tuition: The Singapore Dilemma
Too many graduates in Singapore