Curriculum should go beyond academic subjects: Our Singapore Conversation

Education should not focus so much on academic subjects, that there is no room for the non-academic aspects.

This was a view shared by many participants at an Our Singapore Conversation dialogue on education on Thursday evening. Some 120 of them - one quarter of whom were parents - turned up for the three-hour session at the Institute of Technical Education College West campus at Choa Chu Kang.

Many participants felt there is a need for a broader curriculum, one that would help students discover their non-academic strengths and talents. One way to do this would be to adopt a "buffet-style" subject approach in children's early school years, a parent suggested. This would allow them to "sample" and cultivate interest in a range of subjects, like music, art and sports.

Participants also suggested ways to broaden the scope of assessment methods like the Primary School Leaving Examination, and reduce the emphasis on rote learning and heavy content. They also voiced concerns about the lack of social mixing in schools, adding that stronger pupils should help those who are weaker.

"These are also questions that we are exploring very seriously, and having very intense conversations in the schools and in the ministry's headquarters (about)," said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information, and Education, Sim Ann, as she closed the session. Also present at the dialogue was Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Hawazi Daipi.

Organised by the Ministry of Education, Thursday's session is the third in the second phase of dialogues aimed at delving deeper into education issues.