With top-ranking institutions, a reputation for academic excellence, and a systemic move towards a more holistic approach to education, Singapore boasts some of the best education offerings in the world.

Shortly after Singapore’s Education Minister Heng Swee Keat took over the education portfolio in 2011, he outlined a need for Singapore’s public school system to incorporate more character-based education. This was to provide a better balance within Singapore’s education system, which is already renowned for its academic excellence – yet often criticised for being excessively fixated on examination scores.

Beneath this impetus to excel is a culture of competition bordering on the unhealthy as it tends to result in overloaded and overstressed students. And so there were cheers from various quarters when a year later, the Education Minister made headlines when he rolled out several systemic changes. This included abolishing the system of banding secondary schools based on academic results, which had been a key benchmark for almost a decade.

Singapore’s Ministry of Education has also scrapped some of the awards that schools receive for academic achievement. Instead, it intends to recognise schools that do well in promoting all-round learning, and imbuing character and citizenship values in students.
To encourage students to develop their interests and become more well-rounded, public schools will also receive S$55 million over the next five years to develop their own programmes in non-academic areas that can include anything
from martial arts to dancesport. It is indeed heartening to witness that such positive change is afoot.