Objective of the NEW scoring System: To encourage students to go beyond book smarts, the aggregate score for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be replaced with wider scoring bands from 2021.

Reason for Change: “Today, there is a deeply ingrained mindset that the PSLE is a very high-stakes exam. Many perceive that a child’s PSLE T-score at the age of 12 determines his or her success and pathway in life. “The main issue to address is that the way we currently score the PSLE is too precise, and differentiates our students more finely than necessary. We should therefore, in time, move away from such fine distinctions, which are not meaningful, especially at that young age.”….More details will be revealed in the next two to three months.


The above having been announced in April 2016, has had many different reactions from parents, from welcome to uneasiness. When asked by my students’ parents what I thought of the above, I realised it was too premature and even difficult to comment as no details of its implemention and model has been announced or revealed.

However on the hindsight I asked myself this question – would changing the PSLE Scoring system really make a difference? What is real the objective of this change? What is it that the Ministry of Education really want to achieve? Are they missing the forest for the trees?

In my own opinion as an Educator, the real change that should occur is not in the Scoring System but change in the entire “System of Teaching”.

From my observations, our 20th Century traditional methods of teaching no longer works and revamping is sorely needed. Equipping our children with pure knowledge is no longer feasible. Honestly many children do not enjoy School. For them, learning has become a chore. Reading is not something they enjoy too. In all the years as a teacher and subsequently as a tutor, I have learnt and become enlightened that when students’ curiousity is ignited, they will automatically learn and eventually excel. In turn they discover their own interests and strengths.

For many, School is all about homework and grades and nothing more. Many students that I am working with , are what I am calling “ Educated illiterate”.They learn but they do not understand. The subjects they learn has no meaning. They do not see relevancy. Knowledge/ subject matter has become compartmentalized. No relationship. No purpose. No joy. Our current school setups just do not cater to the differing styles of learning. Students are not inspired to be curious. In fact , they come away that there is only one correct answer or method. In fact many a time, creativity is frowned upon. Over the years, there has been much changes to curriculum content but not the methods to make learning come alive. Although we have wonderful buildings, better infrastructure etc, our teaching methods have remained relatively the same.

Rather than change the PSLE Scoring system, we should be looking at how to create Innovative and Creative schools.

Very often our Schools aim to teach much content, justified by Examination syllabus; but what use is content if there is no understanding. Rather than merely teaching content , we should excite the children to embrace learning. Once that excitement and desire is ignited , they will excel and soar. Rather than spoon feed them with knowledge and answers to remember , why do we not give them problems to solve? Please do not get me wrong I am not saying we do not teach content. Rather I am advocating that besides teaching (20%) we facilitate and guide our students to “connect their own dots”. (80%) Once they connect them , the real learning begins.

As Confucius once said – “ I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

In short, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” by William Butler Yeats.

Holistic education begins in the Classroom, during curriculum time and not “confined” to CCA etc. Unless something drastic happens now, the ideal of providing a holistic education is but a dream.

As Educators and even parents, we need to undertsand that we are NOW preparing our children for jobs that don’t exist exist using Technoligies that hasn’t been invented and solving problems that we don’t even know of yet.

It is a fact that Innovation is going to be an important ingredient in any Country’s economy and this will be the added value element to our children’s future. New Ideas will be their source of success. Just simply equipping our future generation with the 3R’s is no longer adequate.

What we need to do now is to teach the following skills to our students:

1. Critical and Problem solving skills
2. Teamwork – Learning to collaborate and leading by influence.
3. Agility and Adaptability
4. Initiative and having an Entrepreneurial Mindset
5. Effective Oral and Written Communication
6. Curiosity and Imagination
7. Ability to assess and analyze information ( To discern and decide )

To achieve this vision , schools must unlock a Student’s Creativity.

“Creativity is not only an outcome of a good education, but a means of achieving a good education” by Sir Michael Barber.

Our current World is a dynamic world evolving and constantly changing by the minute. It is no longer static. Teaching in our current climate is not teaching Teachers’ content. Teaching now is all about the students’ thinking and skills. Equip them with the necessary tools to be successful.

We should be teaching our children to fish so that they can eat for a life time not eat for one day. Since Learning is an active process, and students learn in their own way (Be it auditory, visual, tactile or experiential ), Schools should be allowed to create this vibrant learning environment.

Teach our students to be Creative and Innovative. To be problem solvers.

“Every child has the potential to learn and be creative” – Thomas Edison.

In conclusion, in my years teaching, I have concluded that Children are learning when they are interested. When they are thinking and creating , when they are solving problems, They become their own stake holders..mapping out their own future.

When in their early years (5-8 years) inculcate the love of reading…build on the oral and reading ability of our children. When older, inculcate the love of learning..Get them to enjoy the journey of self discovery, to become a concern citizen, a confident person, an active contributor. In short , a self-directed learner. A person not afraid to fail but see failure as a stepping stone to success. Be able to be a competent reader where reading is a joy and where reading opens up their world of imagination and dreams.

An example is the Education system of Finland.
Written by Marylene Oen. Dated : 22nd May 2016.

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