Tweaks needed for new system to avoid pitfalls of streaming

With the new subject bands (G1, G2, and G3) being pegged to existing streams, students and parents alike may simply shift their priorities to taking as many G3 subjects as possible.
With the new subject bands (G1, G2, and G3) being pegged to existing streams, students and parents alike may simply shift their priorities to taking as many G3 subjects as possible.PHOTO: ST FILE

The Government's decision to replace streaming in schools with subject-based banding is laudable (Subject-based banding to replace streaming in schools, March 6).

As many commentators have observed, it will go some way towards alleviating social stratification in Singapore, and avoiding the pigeonholing of students into self-fulfilling prophecies.

However, this should only be the start of changes to reduce the social divide in our education system.

With the new subject bands (G1, G2, and G3) being pegged to existing streams, students and parents alike may simply shift their priorities to taking as many G3 subjects as possible.

This may create greater competition for subjects at the G3 level, and students who take more G3 subjects may be viewed more favourably than those who take fewer G3 subjects.

Further tweaks can be made to the entry requirements for post-secondary educational institutions such as junior colleges and polytechnics to avoid such a situation.

Institutions can, for example, have a wider range of entry requirements to reduce the focus on taking G3 subjects, and focus more on taking in students with different subject combinations and different strengths.

Educational pathways need not determine sense of self-worth, but to achieve such a societal mindset, we must ensure that we do not over-privilege certain types of students.

Only then can students truly believe that they can reach their full potential no matter what path they take.

Isaac Neo Yi Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2019, with the headline 'Tweaks needed for new system to avoid pitfalls of streaming'. Print Edition | Subscribe