Case Study of Singapore
Schools in Singapore
|Ngee Ann Polytechnic
About the Singapore Education System
Education is believed to form the bedrock of society in Singapore, and is taken very seriously. This is so much so that a law implemented in 2000 made it a criminal offence for parents to fail to enroll their children in school and ensure their regular attendance. In Singapore, English is the language of instruction for most subjects, especially mathematics and the natural sciences.
Most importantly Singapore’s political ideology is based on meritocracy. This principle is used in the education system to identify and groom and young students for positions of leadership. The education system places a great emphasis on academic performance in grading students and granting their admission to special programs and universities, though this has raised concerns about breeding elitism. A student’s ability and effort is measured based on academic grades, and does not factor in their social background. Thus, students' career prospects in the job market and their future economic status are highly dependent on having good academic credentials.
Singapore’s education policy aims to ensure that every child gets an education, even if their family is faced with financial difficulty. For that reason, school fees in public schools are heavily subsidized, so that students pay as little as SGD 13. Besides, many financial schemes and possible sources of assistance are available to help students deal with financial issues during their education.
Co-curricular activities (CCA)
One major component of the education system is "Co-Curricular Activities" (CCA) which are compulsory at the secondary level. All pupils must participate in at least one core activity, and participation is graded together with other achievements throughout the four years in a scoring system known as LEAPS ("Leadership, Enrichment, Achievement, Participation, Service"). The CCA’s can be Uniform Groups, Sports or Arts to name a few. Competitions and performances are regularly organized so students have opportunities to achieve awards and showcase their talents. Each student will be judged based on their commitment as members of the CCA as well as whether they represented their school in the competitions.
|National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC), a common CCA in Singapore
IT masterplan for education
Enhance linkages between the school and the world around it
Through the increased connectivity, teachers and pupils will be able to tap into a growing wealth of educational resources outside the school. New opportunities to communicate and collaborate with other educational institutions, local and foreign, and the community at large will be opened. These new learning connections will assist pupils development of multiple perspectives required to work and live in an increasingly borderless world.
Encourage creative thinking, lifelong learning and social responsibility.
The plan aims to develop pupils’ competencies in accessing, analyzing and applying information, and develop habits of independent learning. IT-based learning strategies will also seek to develop pupils' ability to think innovatively, to cooperate with one another and to make sound value judgments.
Generate innovative processes in education.
New teaching and learning strategies or new methods of assessment may be created as a result of amalgamation of IT in education. New possibilities will be opened up with the use of IT-based teaching and learning strategies. New curricula and methods of assessment may be designed to meet the educational objectives. School designs will also be transformed to maximize the potential for using IT to enhance learning and school administration.
Promote administrative and management excellence in the education system.
More efficient communication within the school, amongst schools and between MOE Head quarters (HQ) and schools will be made possible by the use of IT. This will increase the effectiveness of educational administration. Online data and information will be readily accessible and available supporting effective decision-making at all levels.
Benefits of Singapore education system
Opportunity to climb up the social ladder
Since Singapore's education system is based on meritocracy, it enables those from the lower income group and of lower social status to rise up and improve their status. Though this requires a lot of effort and determination on the student's part, it is made possible by financial assistance schemes and the principle of meritocracy. This means students of lower social and income status can be selected for high status jobs as long as their academic credentials meet the criteria.
Stellar achievements in Mathematics and Science
In addition, the system has produced students who achieve excellent results in international mathematics and science competitions and assessments. Singapore primary school students have been consistently ranked top when competing in international Science and Mathematics competition. Singapore students took first place in the 1995,1999 and 2003 TIMSS Trends in Mathematics and Science Study.
Problems with Singapore Education System
Singapore’s education system has been criticized for being too specialized, rigid and elitist. Its lack of emphasis on creative thinking has also been condemned, especially when compared to other education systems in other societies like those in the United States. Critics also point out that the achievement of students in international competitions is merely an indication of students' skills in using rote to prepare for a certain style of competition than of their ability to think critically.