Reduce emphasis on academics as measure of success: Chan Chun Sing

The country can do so by embracing a diversity of talents and encouraging young people to pursue the path that might be less travelled, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore needs to remove artificial and incomplete yardsticks of success prescribed by others - such as in academics - and provide multiple pathways for its youth to do well in life.

The country can do so by embracing a diversity of talents and encouraging young people to pursue the path that might be less travelled, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Saturday (Dec 11).

"This is a fundamental cultural change that we need to bring about. We need to let our children know that success is not based on just how they do in examinations."

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has made "some structural shifts" in recent years to reduce the emphasis on academics as a measure of success, said Mr Chan, noting the widening of scoring bands for the Primary School Leaving Examination.

But there is still a long way to go, he said at the launch of an e-book collection of stories from young people on their mental health struggles. "Despite recent efforts, the prevailing skewed perspective remains that getting a good degree is a failproof way to secure a good future."

Making the digital world safer for youth is also key to improving their mental health while they harness the benefits of technology, said Mr Chan.

"As a start, we will need to work with social media platforms to enhance online protection mechanisms for our youths.

"This includes exploring age verification requirements and addressing the issue of social media users hiding behind anonymity to post hurtful and inappropriate comments," he added.

Citing the formation of the Interagency Taskforce on Mental Health and Well-being, Mr Chan said supporting youth mental well-being requires a whole-of-government effort.

The task force, led by Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary, was set up in August to oversee mental health efforts on a national level, focusing on issues that require inter-agency collaborations.

"Together, with the Ministry of Health and other agencies, we are working on areas such as helping youths and parents better access coordinated mental health services and empowering parents to support their child's mental well-being," said Mr Chan.

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