Posted by: angiefm | January 28, 2009

Primary School Revamp Article – Reads Like Benefits of HOMESCHOOLING!

In the Straits Times today (front page no less) is an article titled BIG REVAMP OF PRIMARY EDUCATION ON THE CARDS (article reproduced at the end of this post).

Of course being a homeschool mom and therefore in the education “business” myself, I had to put everything aside to read it.  Here are some excerpts:

“nurture pupils who love learning” … “exposed to a wide variety of experiences” … “equipped with the skills to tackle life’s challenges” … “doing away with semestral assessments” … “the aim is to produce independent, confident and adaptable children for the future” … “effective learning tools where they will enjoy the process of learning” … “mathematics will be more activity based” … “use more engaging learning approaches (for science)” … “all-round character building” … “shape character to become more confident and resilient and better learners at the end of the education system” … “non-academic areas like a child’s ability to work with others or to speak up in class” …

I especially liked the start of the article … “AN AMBITIOUS OVERHAUL“.  I just had to smile.  So much of the article sounded like my usual pitch to people about the benefits of homeschooling!  😀 

Now if only we can only get a slice of that 4.5 billion Sing dollar pie to continue doing all these things at The Domus Academy!

BIG REVAMP OF PRIMARY EDUCATION ON THE CARDS

by Jane Ng (janeng@sph.com.sg)

AN AMBITIOUS overhaul is being planned for primary education, to nurture pupils who love learning, are exposed to a wide variety of experiences and equipped with the skills to tackle life’s challenges.

Changes recommended by a panel tasked to review the system include doing away with semestral assessments for Primary 1 and 2 pupils.

It is a key sign of the shift away from a system that has emphasised exams despite complaints from parents and students that this has led to undue stress.

At a press conference last Friday to release the Primary Education Review preliminary report, Senior Minister of State for Education Grace Fu laid out her committee’s key recommendations, which will cost about $4.8 billion to implement over 10 years.

Some concrete proposals are that all government schools go single session by 2016, 18 new schools be built and another 80 upgraded, and that by 2015, all teaching recruits will be graduates.

The aim is to produce independent, confident and adaptable children for the future, she said.

‘To prepare them better, we have to build in effective learning tools where they will enjoy the process of learning,’ she said.

The way subjects are taught will have to be changed, especially in the first two years of primary school.

Language teaching will see more emphasis placed on a pupil’s ability to speak well, honed, for instance through speech and drama, songs or recitations.

Mathematics will be more activity- based, with investigative tasks to give more accurate feedback to pupils, teachers and parents so that they truly understand the concepts.

Teachers will be given the flexibility to pace the science curriculum and use more engaging learning approaches.

Another new focus of the curriculum is all-round character building.

A Programme for Active Learning will expose all Primary 1 and 2 pupils to sports and outdoor education, and the performing and visual arts.

Pupils in the upper levels will be encouraged to have a co-curricular activity or take part in non-academic electives.

‘We believe that by giving children the opportunity to be exposed to learn new skills, it will shape their character. They will become more confident and resilient, and better learners at the end of the education system,’ said Ms Fu.

With the new emphasis on all aspects of learning, it made sense to replace the two big exams a year for Primary 1 and 2 pupils with mini-tests after each topic is taught.

This way, children can ease into school and learn to enjoy it, she said.

To provide a more holistic picture of how a child is faring, teachers will be asked to give parents feedback on progress, strenghts and weaknesses, rather than just test scores.

Ms Fu said that while the Primary School Leaving Examination remains important, parents should know about non-academic areas like a child’s ability to work with others or to speak up in class.

Some schools have taken it upon themselves to abolish exams at the lower levels.  One of them is Telok Kurau Primary.

Principal Wilbur Wong said his intention was to make it less stressful for the pupils.  His teachers have replaced the exams with regular feedback on how the child is doing.

“For an area like confidence, teachers assess the child on things like eye contact or voice projection.

“So not having exams doesn’t mean we don’t watch over the children,” he said.

Parents like sales manager Cristin Tan already see the benefits of some of the proposals.  She has three children in Primary 1 to 5 at Anderson Primary, which has done away with midyear exams in Primary 1 and 2.

Mrs Tan, 40, said: “it has worked well for my children.  They do not have to be so stressed and there is more time to teach them to love learning.”

For Madam Celia Lau, 36, a financial planner who has two daughters aged four and six, the changes come just in time for her children when they enter primary school. 

“There are so many education changes every few years, I’m happy they are finally doing something which focuses less on academics and more on character building and life skills,” she said.

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Responses

  1. I thought it was quite funny that they actually quoted one of the mothers saying that there would now be more time to teach the children to love learning…. Now, children, answer this question. Is learning fun? a. Yes b. No… All those who answered b, please stay back after school to write your lines “Learning is fun and I love learning…”

  2. That’s hysterical! 😀

  3. So nice to know that the educational climate will be so much improved for kids in.. oh, give-or-take 10 years. That about puts it right for little Evan when he’s ready for P4.


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