top of page

Let's Ask For

A future-ready education system, for every child

Is our Singapore education system really nurturing every child to their fullest? Are we building their creativity, critical thinking, mental resilience and social-emotional skills, to meet the challenges of their and Singapore’s future? We, as concerned parents, think the answer is ‘sadly, not anymore’.

The Forward SG Report calls for our approach to education to evolve to equip our children to navigate a world that will be very different in 20 to 30 years.

 

We, at EveryChild.SG, suggest 3 key changes to bring our primary education system back on track, and in line with our Forward SG vision. These are based on extensive conversations with other parents, teachers, academics and students, our own experience of other education systems, and the latest in the science of learning and child development.

 

Have your voice heard and ask for the change that our children need and deserve.

What's Wrong?

Whether you are a parent, teacher, student, or concerned citizen, please consider honestly how many of these apply to you, or someone close to you:

  • Have a child struggling to keep up with all their academic subjects?

  • Have a child who is no longer interested in school, or has lost their love of learning?

  • Have a child struggling with anxiety/ depression/ emotional issues?

  • Feel like your child could do better in school if only you had more money to send them to more or ‘better’ tuition?

  • Worry that you do not have enough time to supervise your child’s homework and revision?

  • Had to (or plan to) take time off work during your child’s PSLE year to help them with their studies?

  • Struggle with your relationship with your child, feel like you can’t connect with them or motivate them any longer, due to the burden of school/ homework/ exams?

  • Worry if you are doing enough or making the right choices, on the educational front, to set your child up for their future?

  • Know a teacher struggling with huge class sizes, torn between supporting the students with additional needs in their class or the rest of their students?

  • Know a teacher suffering from burnout, anxiety or depression?

*Our references to ‘education system’, ‘school’, ‘classroom’, ‘teacher’, ‘Principal’ and ‘MOE’ on this website and linked content refer largely to our local primary education system, unless otherwise stated.

Does Singapore’s education system* really feel like it is doing the best for every child?

Is this constant struggle as good as it can get for children, parents, and teachers? Singapore is a rich and developed country, leading the world in many areas. We can afford to do better for our children's education.

Our Children Deserve Change

Yes, our education system served us well for many decades after independence, as we emerged from Third World to First.

 

But in many ways, it is becoming increasingly outdated, putting Singapore’s economic future in danger, along with our children’s mental health, parent-child relationships, and much more:

Maximizing the learning potential and social-emotional development of each and every child.
Identifying and building up their strengths and skills to succeed in the future economy.
While keeping their mental health intact. 
While keeping their mental health intact. 

To us, it means:

All this is seeding problems that will hurt our ability to become a resilient, cohesive, inclusive, innovative and competitive economy and society.

In the age of AI, a world-class education system does not just mean topping the PISA rankings.

3 Key Changes to Get Us Back On Track

25 children or less in every primary school classroom.

A world-class education cannot be provided to every child when there are 35-40 of them in one classroom. The average primary school class size in other developed countries is about 20.

The map shows the average class size in public primary schools in the 25 countries that top the PISA rankings. Only China has larger class sizes than us.

Optional PSLE & Through-Train from primary to secondary school

The PSLE as a compulsory, high-stakes, one-off national exam at the young age of 12, is no longer an evidence-informed (science-based) way of checking children’s learning or potential. There are more accurate ways of checking learning at this age, e.g. computerised adaptive testing, regular bite-sized assessments in multiple formats, etc. (See our blog - 6 Better Ways to Assess Learning Than PSLE.)

 

Neither is PSLE required to sort children into secondary schools, especially with subject-based banding in place. We propose a Through-Train system:

  • No ‘elite’ primary schools or alumni/ volunteering based admissions;

  • Every child progresses from their neighbourhood primary school to a partner neighbourhood secondary school; and

  • Optional PSLE, only for those who want to compete for a handful of selective secondary schools. (See our blog - PSLE Optional? How Would That Work!?)

 

The graph shows the ages at which the Top 25 countries in the PISA rankings have their first high-stakes exam. All students eventually have to face one, but only Singapore has it before the age of 15.

Provide our students and teachers the professional support they need in schools.

We can’t have a world class education system without more AND better-trained counsellors, senior learning support professionals, licensed therapists and psychologists. We need these professionals to support the teachers in our schools, in light of growing mental health and learning needs. Other developed countries provide such support in their schools.

What We Stand to Gain

  • Give schools and teachers the time, space and resources to focus on each and every child. So they can truly bring out the best in our children, regardless of their family background and learning styles.

  • Create a safe and nurturing school environment that is respectful of all children. So that they feel safe and confident enough to develop their creativity, resilience and social skills - skills that are critical for the future economy.

  • Give every child the time, space and resources to discover and develop their own gifts, self-awareness and empathy. So they can face their post-secondary future with confidence and a clear idea of their strengths and talents.

  • So that we have a truly ‘universal’ education system that prepares ALL our children, regardless of their socio-economic background or learning needs, for the future economy.

These changes will also help our Teachers and Principals.

It will make their work much more rewarding, reduce excessive workload, and improve retention.

Together we can push for change.

These 3 features are widely practised in almost all developed countries. They are also practised in reputable international schools right here in Singapore. They are not unreasonable or too expensive.

 

However, the current system is so entrenched that these changes are unlikely to come by themselves. It is something all of us, as Singaporean parents, teachers, employers, voters and tax-payers, have to understand and ask for, in one voice, regardless of our political beliefs and affiliations, so that things start changing radically (not just small tweaks like reporting ‘Achievement Levels’ instead of ‘T-score’ for PSLE).

 

Let’s make this about hope and empowerment, for us parents/ citizens, and for Singapore’s future who we are raising in our homes. When Singapore sets its mind to becoming world class, we get there!

Because the future health and well-being of Singapore - our economy, politics, and citizens - depends on it. 

Over-emphasis on academics from a young age is damaging our children’s mental health.

 

It is also placing undue stress on teachers, parent-child relationships and parents’ (mostly mothers’) careers.

Under-resourcing in primary schools is worsening inequality.

Lack of attention from teachers due to large class sizes, and lack of support professionals in schools, force parents to turn to private tuition and therapy, if they can afford it.

It focuses on skillsets that are already out of date.

To be competitive in the future economy, our children have to be nurtured to be collaborative, creative, good communicators with high EQ. None of these skills is the main focus of PSLE or primary school.

Number of respondents who have filled our survey to show their support!

468

Singaporeans/PRs, of whom:

362

Parents/ guardians

127

Teachers/ educators (former & current)

01

Students - primary school

02

Students - secondary school

10

Students - post-secondary/ tertiary

What respondents are supporting:

95.6%

support having 25 Children or less in every primary school classroom

80.1%

support having a ‘through train' from each primary school to a partner secondary school (PSLE optional)

96.4%

support having enough well-trained support professionals in schools for our children and teachers

0%

do not support any of the above

I truly believe we have the resources to allocate to Education to make these very needed changes happen. As a teacher, I have found that smaller class sizes make an enormous impact on the interactions I am able to have with each child as well as a student's ability to have their voice heard in class.

Sonya Mohinani

High School English Teacher (ex-MOE)

<
<
bottom of page