SINGAPORE (Jan 14): The start of the new school year is usually abuzz with anticipation. And for many pupils, there would have been much preparation even before classes began: reading textbooks and completing assessment books, attending tuition or enrichment classes — the mental gearing-up for what is expected to be a gruelling year ahead.

This year is promising to be different, though. For one, several changes by the Ministry of Education (MOE) will take place in 2019. Chief among them is the removal of examinations at some primary and secondary levels. The ministry is also adjusting the criteria for the selection of recipients of bursaries and academic awards for pupils in lower primary levels. And, instead of being scored and ranked to a precise decimal point, students are now given a broad grade but will still be sorted into “bands”. There is now more emphasis on developing young people’s critical thinking and social awareness — nurturing “well-rounded” individuals. 

These initiatives are part of the government’s broader plan to move away from pure academic measures of intelligence and ability. In the new, and future, economy, one’s standardised test scores are unlikely to be complete indicators of success.

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