SINGAPORE: Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said his ministry’s move to stop releasing information on top scorers in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) is "not to address stress per se, or move away from merit".
Writing in his Facebook page on Thursday morning, Mr Heng said: "It is not possible, nor desirable, to eliminate stress completely. Nor should we be shy about achievements."
He said there are broader considerations and he believes in the pursuit of excellence in all areas of endeavour.
He said: "We must encourage our students to apply themselves and to persevere, so that they can reach their full potential in their chosen fields. When they put in the effort, we should cheer them on. When they succeed, we should recognise and celebrate their success."
Mr Heng pointed out that there are now more avenues to recognise success, such as through the Edusave Scholarships and Edusave Merit Bursary for academic achievements, the expanded EAGLES award for CCA, leadership and community service achievements, and Edusave Character Awards for exemplary display of character.
Schools also provide various forms of recognition — through sporting events, academic Olympiads and competitions in different fields.
All these, Mr Heng said, are platforms to promote excellence.
He added that in education, it is useful to bear in mind two key points — that children need to develop at their own pace and they need to develop as a whole person.
"Pulling up the shoot to accelerate its growth or distorting growth in particular areas at the expense of holistic development will set the children back," he said.
This is why, Mr Heng said, "we are putting the emphasis on a ’student—centric, values—driven’ education."
"PSLE is an important exam — but it is not the be—all and end—all. It marks the conclusion of one stage of the learning journey — and the road ahead is a long one," he added. "As adults, all of us will have to learn continually throughout our lives. It is not healthy to have such national focus at this stage of the journey.
"Rather, we should encourage them to persevere, to pursue learning along appropriate pathways, and help them succeed in the next phase. What matters is that our children grow up to have a love for learning, and to be life—long learners. It is a marathon, not a sprint."
He hopes parents will support and encourage their children in their next phase of learning and growth regardless of their examination results.
He concluded: "Our children will be more likely to succeed if they grow up to be confident and resilient, able to bounce back from setbacks; and be inventive and adventurous, able and willing to try and create new things. Let us celebrate their effort, continue to encourage excellence, and broaden our definitions of success."
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