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Holistic Education

Published Date: 08 July 2019 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Christopher de Souza, Holland-Bukit Timah GRC


To ask the Minister for Education (a) what is being done to reduce the emphasis on exam-centered grading and what has been the effect of these changes thus far; and (b) what is being done to emphasise character development, life skills and the joy of learning through interest-based learning, learning through fun or outside-classroom learning instead.


1. Examinations continue to be important as it inculcates hard work and discipline amongst our students. However, it cannot be over-emphasized to the extent that it undermines the holistic development of children, and douses their curiosity to learn.

2. This is why MOE undertook significant efforts to change the scoring system of PSLE, reduce school-based assessment load and modify the format of the school report card to move away from an over-emphasis on academic results.

3. By 2021, schools will be removing the mid-year examinations at P3, P5, S1 and S3. This reduces assessment load at those levels by 25% and provides more time and space for engaged learning to take place.

4. Starting from this year, we have also removed all tests and examinations for P1 and P2, and require schools to conduct no more than one test per subject per school term for P3 to S5. School report cards will no longer indicate class and level positions to reduce over-emphasis on peer comparison.

5. Some schools have decided to implement these changes earlier than scheduled. By 2020, more than half of our primary schools would have removed P3 and P5 mid-year examinations, and more than 90% of secondary schools would be removing their S3 mid-year examinations, one year ahead of schedule.

6. It is too early to conclude on their impact. The feedback we received is that educators and parents see the value of such adjustments, and support the direction of the move.

7. These changes to school-based assessment load complement a broader set of efforts to develop our students more holistically. Character and Citizenship Education continues to be a big part of a student’s school life. Co-Curricular Activities remain integral to the school programme. In addition, the Applied Learning Programme and Learning for Life Programme in schools enable our students to apply learning in real-world settings, and develop stronger life skills and socio-emotional competencies. Values in Action programme and outdoor adventure camps are also important platforms for character development and nurturing of 21st century competences.

8. Add together, these programmes ensure that a large part of the curriculum is devoted to authentic learning opportunities to discover new interests and develop character in our students.