Education Minister Heng Swee Keat congratulated local teenagers for doing well in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) in a Facebook posting on Wednesday.
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Here is Mr Heng's Facebook post in full:
Once every 3 years, 15-year-olds from around the world are tested on how well they know their reading, math, and science. Do they grasp these skills enough to use them effectively in solving real world problems? This is called the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA for short. It is run by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and this year 65 education systems took part. How do you think Singapore's 15-year-olds did?
I am very happy to share that our 15-year-olds have done very, very well, coming in amongst the top five in every area. And when it comes to computer-based math and science, Singapore students were the best performers. Actually, the really important thing behind the numbers is that our students are improving. Regardless of how they rank relative to students from elsewhere, our students' own scores are better this time than when we first took part in PISA in 2009. This means we are moving in the right direction. Even more important -- and this is a point of pride for me -- our weaker students also did better this year, so we know that the improvement is across the board.
But let's take a step back from the numbers for a moment, and understand why we should feel encouraged by our students' excellent performance. PISA tests critical thinking in these areas. To do well, a student can't get by with just memorisation; he must have real knowledge and the wits to apply that knowledge to unpredictable real-life problems. This is exactly what we want our students to learn in school -- the real skills to think critically and creatively so they can succeed in the 21st Century. The improvement shows that our teaching strategies to expose our students to real-life issues, and to challenge them to apply what they learn to the world outside the classroom, are working. Of course, this wouldn't be possible without the high motivation of our students, and the strong guidance and care from parents.
Very proud of our students, and of our teachers and schools for the good work. Let's keep it up, everyone. Not to chase a rank, but to give our students the skills to face real life with confidence and excellence.