As Singapore reviews its education system, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday tried to put things in perspective.
His message: Singapore's education system is a good one that has delivered results over the years.
Mr Lee, who was the guest of honour at the anniversary celebration of Chong Boon Secondary School in his Teck Ghee ward, said the education system has been criticised for being too structured, pressured and competitive, The Straits Times reported.
He acknowledged that this has caused stress for some parents and students.
To address these concerns, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has taken steps to reduce pressure and unhealthy competition in the past year. For example, by not releasing the names of the top Primary School Leaving Examination performers and banding, instead of grading, students for co-curricular activities.
"But while we try to improve our education system further, we should not forget that we have a good system which delivers good results," he added.
This has been borne out by the consistently good performance of students in international competitions and rankings, said Mr Lee, with the most recent being the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).
Singapore's 15-year-olds came out top in problem-solving in the global ranking of student skills conducted by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
This was a test that could not be studied for, and which required common sense, creativity and judgment, noted Mr Lee.
The 1,400 students who took the test were randomly picked by Pisa and not the MOE, said Mr Lee, and had come from different schools and socio-economic backgrounds and were of different races.
"We can confidently say that our schools and our students are not faring too badly, compared to any other country," he said.
But more can be done to raise the quality of every education institution here, no matter who they cater to, he added.
This article was published on April 11 in The New Paper.
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