SINGAPORE (Mar 11): By his own admission, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung would have benefitted from the changes to the secondary education system that he announced in Parliament on March 5. He came from a Chinese-speaking family, entered primary school unable to read or write English and had to work hard to catch up. It would have been better for him to have been placed in a “less demanding band for English, which would give me time to pick up the basics, and then upgrade to a more demanding band if I could meet the standard”, he says.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is removing streaming for secondary school by 2024. In five years, students entering Secondary One will no longer be labelled as “Normal” or “Express” and their abilities will not be termed “academic” or “technical”. Instead, they will be able to take subjects at the level of difficulty suited to them — a level of individual customisation new to the Singapore education system.

Instead of parking students into streams that strictly define what subjects they take and the depth at which those subjects is studied, the new system allows students to take each subject at a level suited to their needs and abilities. If one was stronger in Math, Literature and English, but less so at Chemistry, he could take Math, Literature and English at the G3 level and Chemistry at G1 or G2.

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