Big drop in number of students taking literature

The decline in the number of students taking literature as a subject in school has to do with new subjects that have been introduced over the years, said Ms Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Education and Law.

She was responding to questions from Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh who asked for the main reasons for the decline.

There are currently only about 3,000 students taking literature, compared to 16,970 in 1992.

"The decline in the 'O' level candidature for full literature over the last 20 years needs to be understood in the context of an education system responsive to a changing social context, and which has offered increasingly more curricular choices for students over time," she said.

Ms Indranee said the main factor for the decline has to do with the introduction of Combined Humanities at the upper secondary levels, where students take social studies as a compulsory component and an elective which can be either geography, history or literature.

She added that another factor for the decrease is that there is a "common perception that it was difficult to obtain a good grade for the subject".

Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Yee Jenn Jong also asked if the decline would lead to a shortage of literature teachers.

Ms Indranee said resources are sufficient.

"But as I indicated earlier, if there is a greater need, we would be happy to increase that pool," she said.

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