Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Sacred Cow is slayed at last

Sacred cow killed? - http://www.homeeconomiser.com/Singapore's discretionary policy of putting its students along different educational paths according to ability has been slayed. Many would say that this has been long overdue. I am referring to the educational policy of streaming Primary school students from level 4 onwards (Primary 4) into EM 1, 2 and 3 where the poorest students are put into EM3 as a group to follow a specific (read dumbed-down) curriculum. The assumption that mediocre students, when put together and taught at their appropriate level, will learn better together and at the right pace has now been acknowledged officially as flawed. Of course, many who have been affected by the policy, such as students and their parents, have known it all along. Local film maker, Mr Jack Neo, has even made a movie, 'I not stupid', that addresses the practical problems and issues with the implementation of this educational policy. That it took so long to change this policy (Primary school streaming has been around for more than 10 years) is a marvel in country where change is a constant way of life.

The new received wisdom is called ability-driven education where there is more opportunity for students of different abilities studying differently to interact, thereby enriching the learning environment and experience. In this way, weaker students will no longer feel ostracized by being identified as belonging exclusively to a certain group. I think this new policy can only be a good thing but we need good people to implement not only the letter of the policy but, more importantly, the spirit of the policy. Let us not want to abolish anything 10 years hence because the implementation has not been well carried through.

Image source: http://www.homeeconomiser.com/

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