Ever since the spread of Covid-19, many Singaporeans have asked the government to close schools. However, the Singapore authorities have refused to do so. This is despite the increase in the number of cases both in Singapore and outside Singapore. The Singapore government did state that the situation remains fluid and closing schools is one possible option. Is closing schools really the solution to stop the spread of Covid-19? Let us explore the reasons why we should or should not close schools.
2020: Full Subject Based Banding
In 2020, a few secondary schools will introduce full subject-based banding to replace streaming. This is probably the most substantive change announced in the last few years for secondary school students. Instead of students joining the usual Normal (Technical) (N(T)), Normal (Academic) (N(A)) or Express streams, they would be assigned subjects at three different levels (G1, G2 and G3). G1 is roughly pegged to Normal (Technical) standard while G3 is equivalent to the old Express standard. This allows students who are good at certain subjects to study that subject at a higher level and vice versa. Students will take a common examination at the end of the four years and the three streams would be phased out.
by Richard Leong
I have not written anything regarding the educational landscape for some time. I would like to take this opportunity to address the three biggest changes in the educational landscape from this year (2019) to 2021.
2019: Cutting Down on School Examinations and Removal of Grading from Report Cards
In September 2018, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that they were cutting down on school examinations. All students from Primary 3 to Secondary 4 or 5 would also NOT have more than one graded assessment per subject per school term.
A decision at the end of August 2014 led to a string of letters to be published in the Straits Times over the next two weeks.
These letters basically represented two camps – one advocating for universities to only offer courses pertaining to the student’s major and the other that students should take a broad-based education. Read More…
Recently, a tutor from a tuition school was told to stop advertising himself as a student of the Gifted Education Programme (GEP). MOE ran some checks in response to complaints from parents and discovered that he was neither a student nor a teacher in the GEP programme. Now, he claims to be a relief teacher who helped out in the GEP programme. But no teacher that taught in the GEP recalled such a relief teacher. I wonder how many people were fooled by him and paid top money to learn about strategies to enter the GEP.
I think the most important lesson that we can take away from this is to check the credibility of the tutors that you employ or the tuition centres that you enrol your child in. I mean, just because somebody is able to rent a place doesn’t make him automatically qualified to teach.
I always have copies of my academic certificates (my BA, MA and PDGE) at hand. And any teacher employed by RG Channel will also have copies of their certificates on , But so far, nobody who has enrolled in RG Channel or made enquiries ever asked me to produce my certificates. This makes me wonder how many children out there are taught by unqualified and unprofessional tutors.
In RG Channel, we believe that having qualified teachers is not enough. We want qualified and well-trained teachers who are also ahead of others in pedagogy knowledge. Other than planning my lessons, teaching and other business-related work, I spent a large part of my time doing research on pedagogy, consulting with my ex-colleagues, who have provided a lot of useful information so that I can continue to improve. At RG Channel, we believe that our teaching methods must always be the most effective and the most efficient.
It is going to be Primary One registration in a month’s time. Is your child due to be registered into Primary One this year and you are still confused over the phases? Let me try to help parents to clear up their doubts. The following table lists each phase:
Primary One Registration
For a child who has a sibling studying in the primary school of choice
For a child whose parent is a former student of the primary school and who has joined the alumni association as a member not later than 30 June 2011ORFor a child whose parent is a member of the School Advisory / Management Committee
For a child whose parent or sibling has studied in the primary school of choiceORFor a child whose parent is a staff member of the primary school of choice
For a child whose parent has joined the primary school as a parent volunteer not later than 1 Jul 2011 and has given at least 40 hours of voluntary service to the school by 30 Jun 2012ORFor a child whose parent is a member endorsed by the church/clan directly connected with the primary schoolORFor a child whose parent is endorsed as an active community leader
For all children who are eligible for Primary One in the following year and are not yet registered in a primary school
|Phase 2C Supplementary:
For a child who is not yet registered in a school after Phase 2C
All the above are the phases for children who are Singapore citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents. However, if there are more students then vacancies in each individual phase (for example, there 40 vacancies for Phase 2B, but there are 50 applicants), students will be enrolled based on the priorities as stated below:
- Singapore Citizen living <1km
- Singapore Citizen living between 1-2km
- Singapore Citizen living >2km
- Permanent Citizen living <1km
- Permanent Citizen living between 1-2km
- Permanent Citizen living >2km
In other words, Singapore citizens living less than 1 km will fill up all the places, followed by Singapore citizens living between 1-2 km and so on and so forth. It is very possible that Permanent Citizens might not even get a chance!
It might also be possible that after enrolling all applicants in the earlier priority, the remaining applicants cannot fit into the number of vacancies in the current priority. For example, there are 6 vacancies left, but there are 8 applicants who are Permanent Citizens living less than 1 km away from the school. In cases like this, since they have the same priority, a ballot will take place.
How does one know if the school is less than 1km or more? Go to the OneMap SchoolQuery Service managed by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to look for information.
Finally, there is Phase 3 which are meant for children who did not get into any school based on the earlier phases. Children who are foreigners are also in this phase. If parents want to read up more information, please go to MOE’s Admissions webpage for more information.
Best of luck for your Primary One registration!
We are sure by now that most people would have at least heard of Slumdog Millionaire, if not seen it. It is the most successful movie of 2008 and it is undoubtedly the most successful Indian movie internationally.
But did you know that Slumdog Millionaire was inspired by a particular educational research? The movie is based on a book, “Q & A” by Vikas Swarup. He said that he was inspired by the “Hole-in-the-Wall project”.
The project, also known as the “Minimally invasive education”, was an idea to put a computer into a slum where poor children were allowed to use the computer to surf the Internet without any supervision.
The results were astounding. According to Professor Sugata Mitra, the scientist responsible for the project, the children taught themselves to be computer literate, improved their English, Math and Science, become better at working together and was able to display higher order thinking skills.
According to this school of thought, all children are capable of learning. However, the intervention of schools has created a situation where children who fall behind are suddenly labelled as “slow”, “stupid” or “disabled”. The followers of this school of thought prescribes to the “Sudbury model school” where the students and staff are equal members of a democracy. There are no classrooms, but simply places were people gather. The students decide what to learn and are expected to be self-motivated to learn the knowledge themselves. Students mix with each other regardless of age and the older ones tend up end up mentoring the younger students.
We admit that this idea of Sudbury type of school is very alien to the Singapore education landscape. And not much research have been done on the Sudbury model. But the Sudbury Valley School, the pioneer Sudbury school boasts an university admission of 80% among their alumni.
Nevertheless, there are some learning points. Firstly, it might be worthwhile for schools to allow their students to lead their own learning. Some schools have shown some flexibility by allowing student-initiated Co-Circular Activities (CCAs). In RGC Future School, while we have a curriculum, we have no qualms of gearing our teaching towards a particular subject if the students show interest in that subject. We believe that self-motivation is really the best motivation out there.
Secondly, collaboration between students is also important. Again, we will emphasis that we believe that collaboration is also very important. This collaboration should be between the teachers, the students as well as parents. Only then, will the learning experiences of our students be enriched.