A flurry of changes announced in Parliament on Monday will provide further impetus to ongoing moves to shift the focus of education from the rigours of academic tests and grades to the creation of an environment that gives students more time and space to develop their academic and co-curricular interests. Perhaps the most welcome immediate step is that mid-year examinations for all primary and secondary school students will be done away with by next year. This is a decisive move adopted following policy changes that have seen mid-year examinations being scrapped for Primary 3, Primary 5, Secondary 1 and Secondary 3 students in the past three years. Since 2019, pupils in Primary 1 and Primary 2 have also not had any tests and exams, and are not given grades in those years. The move to do away with mid-year examinations should ease the stress of the academic year, and thus give students time to focus more on their learning and without having to worry about their grades. There is no danger of a lowering of academic standards because ongoing assessments are on hand to test students on what they have learnt.
Another important step is the decision to remove streaming totally from 2024, which would result in students being grouped in mixed-form classes in secondary school. The move is an expansion of the full subject-based banding scheme in which students taking different courses come together in mixed-form classes. Results of a pilot project show that students learn new perspectives and relate better to their peers from different backgrounds this way. The removal of academic stratification through streaming also serves an important social purpose - which is to ensure that even as students compete with one another, as they should, they learn to understand and cooperate, as they must.