Forum Letter Replies

December 12, 2019

Need for shift away from over-emphasis on academic results

There has been some debate on the issue of tuition, as can be seen by the recent forum letters on this issue. As alluded to by Kenneth Lee (School teachers, tutors play complementary roles in education; Dec 12), the purpose of our education system and the intent of tuition are fundamentally different. Tuition is a service that is primarily targeted at improving academic results. Education in our schools, on the other hand, aims to develop children holistically, in partnership with parents, to enable them to maximise their potential and contribute to society. This goes well beyond academic performance.

Recognising that some students need additional support, our schools provide additional assistance to students who need help in mastering fundamentals, through initiatives such as learning support programmes. Some schools also partner volunteers and Self-Help Groups to provide affordable academic support to students in need.

In addition, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has made available a wide range of learning resources on the Student Learning Space (SLS), which all students can access online at their own time and pace. These resources are available for subjects from primary to pre-university level.

Even as we provide additional academic support to students who require it, we should avoid an over-emphasis on grades, which may lead to excessive stress and under-development of other crucial aspects, including socio-emotional competencies and soft skills. MOE has been making significant changes to our education system through our Learn for Life movement. Schools and institutes of higher learning today recognise a diversity of strengths, and a greater proportion of students are now admitted based on their aptitude.

MOE has also reduced school-based assessments to allow more time for deeper and more holistic learning. We will also be making changes to the PSLE scoring system in 2021 and introducing Full Subject-Based Banding to all secondary schools by 2024, thereby removing streaming. We will enhance our feedback to parents on their children's learning progress.

Ultimately, both parents and schools want students to do well in life, be it in securing good jobs, pursuing their passions, forging friendships or forming families. What we can and must do is support their holistic development, equipping them with the values, knowledge, skills and dispositions to succeed not just in exams but in life.


Ms Liew Wei Li
Deputy Director-General of Education (Schools)
Ministry of Education