Welcoming changes in the educational path
A wave of changes announced in Parliament on Monday will give further impetus to ongoing moves to shift the focus of education from the rigors of academic tests and grades to creating an environment that gives students more time and space to develop their studies and academic co-interests. Perhaps the most welcome immediate step is that mid-year exams for all primary and secondary students will be scrapped by next year. It is a landmark decision taken following policy changes that have seen mid-year exams for Primary 3, Primary 5, Secondary 1 and Secondary 3 students scrapped over the past three years. As of 2019, students in Primary 1 and Primary 2 have also not taken any tests or exams and receive no grades in those years. The abolition of mid-year exams should alleviate the stress of the school year and thus give students time to focus more on their learning and without having to worry about their grades. There is no danger of lowering academic standards as continuous assessments are available to test students on what they have learned.
Another milestone is the decision to phase out streaming altogether from 2024, which would lead to students being grouped into mixed classes in secondary school. The move is an extension of the comprehensive subject grouping system in which students taking different courses come together in mixed classes. The results of a pilot project show that students gain new perspectives and thus establish better relationships with their peers from different backgrounds. Streaming’s removal of academic stratification also serves an important social purpose – which is to ensure that even as students compete with each other, as they should, they learn to understand and cooperate, as they should.