The government has been taking several steps to mitigate the pressure put on its students, including a recent decision to stop releasing the names of top performers to the media, which publicizes them widely.
Last month, the Singapore Ministry of Education decided to stop releasing the names of high scorers on the primary school graduation exams. These students often receive significant coverage in the news media, and some even end up on advertising for various study services. This follows additional changes made by the government to help tone down pressure on the country’s students, including a reduction in the number of awards given to schools based on its educational achievements. Some are now calling for the end of the primary school graduation exam itself, which determines a student’s path through high school.
What’s the Big Idea?
Singapore’s education system regularly ranks at or near the top of global evaluation lists for success, but is also often criticized for placing too much stress on students. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Hoong says the goal is to find the right balance: “Where there is [excessive pressure], we have to make adjustments, tone it down.” Interestingly, some parents aren’t happy with the changes: Lacking information about the top scorers, they went to a popular online forum, KiasuParents, to compare their children’s scores and discuss their reactions. In the local Chinese dialect, Kiasu means “afraid to lose.”