Singapore is often praised for its world-class transportation system and luxurious attractions. Their educational system is worth praising, too. Singapore has one of the highest adult literacy rates in the world (97%). The average Singaporean student is ten months ahead in English and 20 in math compared to students from other well-developed countries.
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Moreover, 87.9% of Singaporean students are happy in school. They’re no stranger to the pressure of passing exams and getting high grades, but they clearly enjoy their education. And, believe it or not, their advanced math and English skills aren’t what makes them stand out the most. The government sees other skills as more valuable than those. While high grades are still rewarded, Singaporean students no longer compete for them as much. So what makes the Singaporean educational system different? Is technical learning just as commendable in their country?
Educational Trends in Singapore
The “Teach Less, Learn More” Strategy
Twenty percent of Singapore’s national budget is spent on education. The government and the Ministry of Education use this budget to rival some of the best school systems in the world. They focus the curricula on practical skills that prepare students for real-world problems. Classes are structured to enhance the problem-solving skills of students. Classrooms are highly scripted, and exams are regarded importantly.
Like many other countries, Singaporean schools also used to rank students based on their academic performances. But the government noted that this practice caused psychological problems on students. Hence, the Ministry of Education denounced the public announcement of student rankings. Report cards no longer showed the ranking of students.
To further support this change, the government adopted a strategy called “Teach Less, Learn More.” It focuses on the quality of education instead of the quantity. Under this strategy, pupils aged six to eight aren’t assessed on exams and are encouraged to undergo self-learning. Mid-year exams are removed to give students more free time. Lastly, students are encouraged to be lifelong learners so that they can overcome the challenges of a complex world.
This strategy fits today’s world and youth. The traditional learning style that heavily relies on textbooks is now outdated. Today, students need to learn about the real world as early as they can. Social media made them more practical learners. They can already access information anytime and anywhere, so teachers have become more of a mentor than a source of new knowledge.
Tuition Grant Scheme
One of the reasons for Singapore’s high literacy rate is the tuition grant scheme. It automatically awards a tuition grant — the highest level of tuition subsidy — to eligible citizens. Permanent residents may apply for it too, and so can international students.
Thanks to this scheme, economic status isn’t a hindrance to a Singaporean’s education. Members of an ethnic minority can also receive the same high-quality education as any other Singaporean. This makes their society educated, open-minded, creative, and adaptive. Their education prepares them for the future, rather than sticks them to old-school methods.
Learning doesn’t stop in college. While working, Singaporean employees can enroll in diploma courses and have their employer’s support. Singapore has gone all-out to promote life-long learning. They encourage their students to be skills-ready for the future economy.
What’s more, educational materials are also available remotely. Singaporeans of all ages can undergo online learning, not just for subjects they already have in school. Courses such as big data analysis and gamification are available online, too.
The government also incentivized educational technology to promote the use of information, communication, and technology (ICT) for education in Singapore. Indeed, the government doesn’t take shortcuts to improve the country’s educational system and adapt to the times.
Diverse Higher Education Pathways
Students in Singapore are allowed to pursue their interests. They’re not stuck in a fixed path that often disregards arts and humanities. As a result, they emerge into the real world more prepared. They’ve mastered the skills needed for their chosen field. They’re not forced into the rat race because they’re already empowered and thus no longer need to compete to feel validated.
Ahead of Its Time
Despite the exceptional trends in Singaporean education, students there can still feel pressured to be on top. Some might still struggle to get passing grades. But the system is definitely ahead of its time. Schools, colleges, universities, and vocational schools have the future in mind while teaching.
The system might not have been pandemic-proof, but at least, they developed smart and strong students who can navigate this period with more self-assurance. As such, we can expect greater things from the Singaporean educational system in the future.