The latest changes to the education system will see fewer examinations and a reduced emphasis on grades. In a radical move, mid-year exams for Primary 3 and 5 pupils, as well as for Secondary 1 and 3 students, will be scrapped over the next three years. The first two years of primary school will also be test-free from next year. Report books will no longer include the class and level rankings at both primary and secondary levels, and even aggregate scores, used for post O-level postings, will not be reflected at the lower secondary level. These measures reflect a bold attempt to redress what some have viewed as rigidity that has crept into the education system, perhaps unavoidably, during an earlier period of national development.
Then, the emphasis on competition, grades and streaming turned education into a relentless race for excellence that mirrored the struggle for existence in which the fledgling nation was engaged. The competitive rigour justified itself in producing students confident of their abilities in English, their mother tongue, mathematics, science and other subjects that were the staples of academic survival in a knowledge-driven world.