Subjects Taken in Primary School
Pupils in all primary schools would embark on similar studies, with compulsory subjects that they must take up. Pupils in the lower primary levels would have to take up core foundation subjects English Language, Mother Tongue Language and Mathematics while the subject range would be slightly more diversified as the pupil advances to his upper primary studies.
In the upper primary years, Science would be a compulsory examinable subject for all pupils. There are also a couple of optional subjects that pupils in the upper primary levels can choose to take up depending on their stream. These subjects include Higher Mother Tongue and Social Studies.
Primary school pupils are also required to take up compulsory non-examinable subjects. These subjects include Civic and Moral Education, Health Education, Physical Education, Music and Art.
Compulsory Examinable Subjects
The English Language is the essential language of communication and thus, is a compulsory examinable subject starting from as early as Primary 1. The ability to read, write, listen and converse in English Language effectively is an essential skill that is vital to any workplace.
In the lower primary levels, more emphasis is placed on teaching pupils to master the basics of speaking, writing, listening and reading. Pupils would be taught to read simple texts and may be asked to dramatise stories so as to further raise their interests in the subject. Pupils would also be taught to listen attentively and understand that the use of stress, tone and volume is for conveying meanings. Pupils would also be taught how to speak fluently and use intonation to express their intentions. Writing legibly is also a focus of foundation English Language; pupils would be taught how to write clearly and penmanship classes may be held to ensure that pupils write legibly.
In the upper primary levels, pupils would be expected to be able to write coherently in paragraphs, conveying their ideas through effective use of vocabulary and grammar. Pupils are also expected to recognize text types and understand passages, make predictions from they comprehend and answer questions logically. Pupils are also expected to be well-equipped in oratorical skills such they would be able to give a speech should there be a need to do so.
The studies of the English Language in primary school culminates in a Primary School Leaving Examinations paper, which would test the pupils in all four core aspects of the English Language – reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Mother Tongue Language
The Mother Tongue Language comprises the core of our heritage roots. As we are Asians with roots firmly entrenched in our rich cultural heritage, we should not forget this Asian identity of ours and should work on this identity and passed on our traditions and culture to the new generations of Singaporeans.
In Singapore, three main Mother Tongue Languages are offered – Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Other minority Mother Tongue Languages are also offered. These Languages include Bengali, Gujarati and Hindi amongst others.
In the lower primary levels, more emphasis would be placed on speaking and listening as compared to writing and reading previously. This is a change that the Ministry of Education has recently implemented in an attempt to raise Singaporean pupils’ interests in the Mother Tongue Language. Undoubtedly, fundamental aspects of reading and writing would also be taught in the lower primary levels. Students would be taught to converse in their Mother Tongue and to write legibly in the language.
In the upper primary levels, emphasis would usually be placed equally on all aspects of learning a language – reading, writing, speaking and listening. Students in upper primary are expected to be able to write coherently, composing an essay and recall how to write words. Speaking and listening would not be neglected as well and pupils would be expected to be able to speak well and fluently in their Mother Tongue.
The Primary School Leaving Examinations paper would also conclude the foundation primary levels of Mother Tongue Language studies. In this examination, pupils would be tested on their ability to read, write, speak and listen.
Mathematics is yet another essential subject that all pupils would require in their future, regardless of their work. Mathematics is involved in our daily life, from telling the time to counting money. As we can see, Mathematics is important to our day-to-day activities, and hence the need for Mathematics to be taught from a young age.
In the lower primary levels, the basics of foundation Mathematics would be taught. Essential skills such as telling time and calculating money would be taught in Primary 1 as pupils would need the skills from a young age. Other topics that lower primary pupils would cover include addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The pupils would need to know the multiplication tables as well. Mensuration would also be taught to pupils such that they know how to convert between units (centimeter to meters and such). Pupils would be taught to recognize basic shapes as well and would be introduced to the concept of angles.
In the upper primary levels, higher level Mathematics would be taught. Pupils would be taught to recognize more complex shapes such as rhombus and trapezium while knowing the properties of three-dimensional shapes such as the cube and sphere. Pupils would also be introduced to statistics, with graphical models, such as pie charts and bar graphs, being emphasized on. Calculation with fractions and decimals would also be taught in the upper primary levels.
In the Primary School Leaving Examinations, an assorted range of topics would be tested for the examinations. Pupils would need to know the various different mathematical concepts in order to score well.
Science is a subject that would be of great importance in secondary education and beyond. Therefore, Science has been structured into the curriculum from the Primary 3 level to inculcate in pupils the need for a curious scientific mind and desire to explore into the depths of scientific knowledge.
In primary school Science, the subject incorporates the various sub-categories, namely Physics, Chemistry and Biology. All three subjects are combined to form the General Science subject.
In Science, pupils would learn about important biological knowledge such as the food web and ecosystem. Basic physics would also be taught to upper primary pupils. Topics covered include electricity and heat, where pupils would recognize the fundamental concepts behind the various topics. Basic Chemistry would be taught to the primary school pupils as well. The pupils would be taught to recognize solids, liquids and gases and identify the characteristics and properties of each of these states of matter.
In the Science Primary School Leaving Examinations, concepts that have been taught would be tested in the papers. The paper would be largely application-based instead of knowledge-based. Thus, a clear understanding of scientific concepts is required and expected of students.