The change to the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system must come with a systemic change in the attitudes of Singaporeans (New range of entry scores for secondary school, Nov 7).
With the objectives of reducing the emphasis on academic results and focusing more on individual performance, the changes are timely at this inflection point of the 21st century.
Yet I believe these changes are but a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Specifically, students, parents and teachers must read these changes as a call to change their attitude towards education.
We must shift the narrative in classrooms and let students see that the world outside of academics is bigger - it is the world our children must learn to navigate.
More importantly, the change reminds us that we should always aim to be the best of ourselves.
Students must learn that they excel not because they have a higher score than their peers, but rather, because they have given their best. Such learning can occur only in a climate that focuses on individual improvement and achievements.
The Singapore story also reminds us of these important lessons. From independence, Singapore has arrived at each milestone not looking at other countries. We arrived looking at how we can do better. It is this "better" that has moulded what is now our reality.
Evidently, such an attitude of personal growth and maturation has been embedded in our DNA and is something we must continue to pass on.
Even with this change to the PSLE scoring system, there remain many ways for competition and an overemphasis on academic results to occur.
We can always choose to pick up on other elements in the system to compare our students with their peers, but doing so will negate all the changes made. It will negate the hopes of our education system. It will restrict the holistic abilities of our children.
There is a limit to how much a system can change, yet there is potential in how much society can change. I hope this potential is not wasted.
A change in attitude is never easy. It takes time. But this cannot be the excuse for us to fail, or to never try.
Koon Wei Pheng