Forum Letter Replies

June 08, 2018

Performance, ability count in civil service

We refer to the letter by Mr Sreedharan Suresh (Civil service needs to change the way it recognises talent; May 27) who suggested that the civil service needs to move away from focusing on academic results, and change the way it identifies, recognises and promotes talent and leadership.

The public service considers other factors, beyond academic performance, in its hiring and promotion of talent. It awards scholarships to outstanding individuals who demonstrate all-round qualities, such as character, commitment to public service and leadership skills. These go beyond academic achievements.

When scholarship holders join the public service after their studies, they start work at the entry level. They are not automatically given higher potential ratings or placed on a fast track where success is guaranteed.

They, like others, must prove themselves by performing on the job and show that they are capable of taking on greater responsibilities.

An officer's potential is not assigned based on academic results, and we have seen good officers, regardless of their background and starting academic qualifications, rise to senior positions.

Over the years, the Education Ministry (MOE) has taken significant steps to move away from an overemphasis on grades.

For example, the PSLE T-scoring system will be replaced with wider scoring bands from 2021.

The Direct School Admissions scheme in schools and aptitude-based admissions in institutes of higher learning have also been expanded to encourage multiple pathways of success.

MOE will continue to focus on the all-round development of students.

In schools, we help students understand the broader goals of education beyond academic pursuits and the importance of developing character and 21st-century competencies such as collaboration and effective communication skills.

We also conduct regular reviews to keep the national curriculum and pedagogies in schools relevant and current. This ensures that our students are prepared for a fulfilling life and career.

Indeed, while academic performance can be one proxy to assess candidates with no working experience, in other cases, work experience and acquired skills would matter more. Once on the job, it is an individual's performance and ability to take on greater responsibilities that matter most.


Mr Chan Boon Fui
Senior Director, Leadership Development & HR Policy
Public Service Division

Mr Heng Yew Seng
Director, Curriculum Policy Office
Ministry of Education