The Ministry of Education (MOE) is taking steps to "loosen up" the education system and introduce more flexibility to reduce stress on students, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday.
It is already returning to the original aim of recognising non-academic abilities through the Direct School Admission, and adopting aptitude-based entry to higher institutions, and will move away from a rigid T-score in the Primary School Leaving Examination to a wider grade band system.
"We must remove that do-or-die mentality for every checkpoint, so that even if you don't do so well, it's okay," Mr Ong said at the opening ceremony of the pre-university seminar at Nanyang Technological University.
"We have a pretty good system, well regarded around the world... but one thing we need to improve is to reduce that stress in the system."
He said that MOE will do its part to take care of students' well-being.
"MOE will make sure that the education system will evolve to help you not be too hard on yourself," he said.
He also encouraged students to look out for each other's mental health and communicate with their parents regularly.
We have a pretty good system, well regarded around the world... but one thing we need to improve is to reduce that stress in the system... MOE will make sure that the education system will evolve to help you not be too hard on yourself.
EDUCATION MINISTER ONG YE KUNG
Mr Ong noted that the stress level has gone down among lower primary pupils, with no examinations till the end of Primary 2 and the curriculum being streamlined. But the workload at the higher levels such as secondary schools and junior colleges remains heavy, he said.
River Valley High School Year 5 student Kenneth Kwan said: "It's inevitable that exams bring stress but, as a student, I take it in a positive light."
The 17-year-old explained: "Exams teach us to do independent study, which will be useful for work in future."
The pre-university seminar from Monday to Friday brings together 550 students from 33 pre-university institutions like junior colleges and polytechnics to think of ways to transform Singapore. This year's event is co-organised by MOE and River Valley High School.
Over four days, the students were grouped into teams and tasked to come up with solutions to complex social issues, such as the ageing population and smart technology.
Republic Polytechnic student Abu Bakar's team looked at how to better integrate certain groups into society, like the elderly and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community .
Said the 18-year-old: "I really enjoy the friendships made, and having conversations about things that matter to us but which may not be in our syllabus.
"Regardless of where we came from, we all look at each other as the youth of Singapore, working to make our home better."