SDP: Our Education System in Dire Need of Reform; Shows How to Do It

Our education system is outmoded and does not prepare our students for the future. It is in dire need of reform.

This case was made by the SDP at the launch of its education policy Educating for Creativity and Equality: An Agenda For Transformation. SDP Chairman Paul Tambyah and Mr Ben Pwee, who joined the SDP earlier this year, presented the party’s case.

Mr Pwee highlighted the system’s dependence on exams and rote-learning. In this day and age, such an approach does not prepare our students for a world that emphasizes creativity and innovation.

Mr Pwee also pointed out that the current system contributed to the growing inequality in Singapore. Because of the intense syllabi, teachers are under pressure to complete the list of required topics regardless of whether the students understand the material or not.

Parents then seek private tuition, a billion-dollar industry, to help their children cope. Richer families can afford such expensive tutoring, leaving poorer families at a disadvantage. This exacerbates the growing divide in socio-economic class in our society.

To remedy these problems, Prof Tambyah listed a series of proposals to revamp the education system.

Among some of them are to foster students’ independent and critical thinking. Dependence on memorisation is a thing of the past as information is readily available at one’s fingertips. “We must teach our students how to think, not what to think,” Prof Tambyah said.

The SDP also proposes to abolish the PSLE, and this should be complemented by broadening the curricula and reducing the workload. He added: “Such an approach will enrich our students’ educational experience and prepare them for a future that will require them to be well-rounded, intelligent individuals.”

He also said that class-size should be reduced to no more than 20 students per teacher. This will enhance teacher-pupil interaction.

On using education to reduce inequality, Prof Tambyah pointed out that school- and class-ranking be scrapped. Schools will not segregate pupils according to their examination results.

“This is because education is not about competition with one’s classmates but learning through collaboration and teamwork with one’s peers,” he noted. Competition for top-ranked schools is unhealthy and has inflicted serious psychological damage, according to mental health professionals, on our children.

The SDP believes that education must be the process where an individual learns to discover oneself and, in doing so, endeavour to improve the human condition. For the sake of our nation’s future, it is important that we teach our children that reading and learning can be enjoyable and intrinsically rewarding.


We must let our children be children. They should be encouraged to read, play, discover themselves and for themselves, and develop a love for books.

The goal should be to lead our students to learn, not push them to study. The former will open up their naturally enquiring minds; the latter will kill curiosity.

If we are able to achieve this goal, we will reap the benefits of not just a talented workforce but also, and more importantly, a thinking and caring people.

The full SDP’s education policy paper, Educating for Creativity and Equality: An Agenda For Transformation can be found here.

Singapore Democrats

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22 Responses to “SDP: Our Education System in Dire Need of Reform; Shows How to Do It”

  • PAP will copy SDP education:

    PAP education minister Mr Ong will copy SDP education policy. He did before and will do it again becos he is useless and does not know how to wprk his work. He is M$ salary but is a useless man. He is better off wearing skirt, bras and panties.

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  • don't know how to ask why?:

    When our reward system is based solely on exam scores, learning becomes robotic. It will be about acing the exams. Rote learning. Tuition. Scholarship. And a bed of roses after that, in SG.

    Outside of SG, such minds are unable to compete.

    Ask yourselves: In the international arena of ideas and thoughts, why do you find a dearth of SG raised minds that shine? Not the minds of our dumb multi-million dollar Ministers. Nor those of our scientists or technologists, if they could truly be deemed to be such.

    Heck, none of them can even speak. With literally millions of videos out there, can anyone upload one which shows a SG raised mind impressed? Zilch!

    Yet those in charge don’t even know how to ask why?

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  • Harder Truths:

    $G education system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.

    Making sure only the ‘scholars’ are taken into the government to keep the Ponzi scheme going.

    While the remains – sorry – remainder – are made into slave labour to pay off their lifelong debt and give the ‘scholars’ their lifestyles.

    Why would they change this wonderful system?

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  • oxygen:

    ON EDUCATION, PAPpypolitics is a COMPLETE FAILURE. To teach our kids how to THINK OUT OF THE BOX, they have to FIRST comprehend all the political/economic modeling lies and falsehoods taught in the box.

    How is this going to happen when schools attendance starts with INDOCTRINATION of national pledge which PAST TENSE, now gone to TERN SUA never to return to CONFESS & apologise, told the HOUSE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE BUT USELESS DECORATIONS, that the pledge is TO HIS FULL AWARENESS AND KNOWLEDGE AS HIGHFALUTIN.

    WTF!!!

    OUR KIDS GOT OF THIS HIGHFALUTIN EDUCATION NOT TO THINK EVEN OF THE LIES, FANTASY AND PROPAGANDA taught to them INSIDE THAT TOXIC BOX OF EDUCATION all through their school lives.

    OUR KIDS ARE ALL BRAIN-DAMAGED BEYOND REPAIR.

    In a jungle survival world now, it is either you disrupt or be disrupted.

    OUR KIDS ARE TAUGHT TO OBEY ONLY AND OUR DISSENTING ADULT OPPRESSED WITH VAGUEDLY DEFINED LAW AND FAILING THAT, SILENCED WITH POFMA FAKE LAW!!.

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  • oxygen:

    IT IS CORRECT TO TEACH OUR KIDS NEVER TO MOLEST or F before they are 17 but it is perfectly OK to F but never to follow PAPpypolitics/PAPpynomics (in social studies) up the trajectory of lies, fantasy and propaganda.

    POFMA can’t separate truth and falsity of invasion and liberation as BOTH TRUTH AND FALSE AT THE SAME TIME. The architects/engineers of POFMA law must be totally lost in the nether world m*sturbating to fiction when they construct POFMA which is FAKE of its own intent and outcome.

    Our kids have to discover the world and learn to survive as adult WITHOUT THE HAUNTING GHOST OF PAPpypolitics gnawing down their back.

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  • Fair Comment:

    Don’t follow the U.S. system where graduates like AOC are aplenty. Schools need exams to know how these students’ interest and abilities in the various subjects are. Studying 11 years without exams and producing graduates who could not understand the past 11 years is not the answer.

    If Singapore children does not grind and excel in the world, they would be replaced by the Chinese in all sectors. Singapore’s education system is well respected throughout the world. There could be fine tuning to improve with the advances in science and technology but to not go on to produce thousands of AOCs please.

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  • Dean of MasterBed:

    Has the Singapura Republic Education System produced a LKY ?
    No.

    So is it great?
    Great at mucking books?

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  • don't know how to ask why?:

    Fair Comment:
    Schools need exams to know how these students’ interest and abilities in the various subjects are. Studying 11 years without exams and producing graduates who could not understand the past 11 years is not the answer.

    Agreed. You need some kind of assessment to gauge the progress of the learning process. You do that by grading them on the level of understanding, not to make assessment into a competition for the best (exam) grades as in the SG education system.

    When the exam grades become the be-all and end-all, learning becomes mechanical. You want to stimulate the mind and curiosity, and encourage true learning and understanding. Not in SG where schooling is about the cramping of knowledge and where excelling in the exams becomes a high-pressured rat race.

    Fair Comment:
    Don’t follow the U.S. system where graduates like AOC are aplenty.

    Yet, no SG raised mind can out-think or out-speak or be out-creative than an US raised mind (speaking in broad generalization, of course).

    Do a search on Youtube on any topic and you can find literally millions of videos that showed how a US-raised mind impressed yet not a single one from a SG raised mind.

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  • TruBlu:

    ‘thinking out of the box’ is important.
    but,i humbly think society needs scholars who understand the WISDOM OF THINKING HOW TO HELP THE WEAK.

    A SOCIETY THAT BILLIES THE WEAK WILL BREAK DOWN IN A MATTER OF TIME.

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  • KNN:

    Those with minimum working experiences are leading entire educational system.
    What they know is to ask for more budget to buy more equipment.!!
    Does buying more equipment make you smarter?!
    No. Microsoft started developing Operating System using 8086.
    Dumb Ministers keep spending and spending.!!
    Now Ong YK come up with Skill Future. You think can get jobs?!!
    KNN all PAP cronies working in GOV. No wonder all SCREWED.!!

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  • don't know how to ask why?:

    In SG, exam grades have become a passport to automatic promotion.

    It doesn’t matter if a good soldier or General or a good policeman does not depend on how well you perform in school. The Little India riot was a good testimony of that.

    Our scholar Generals have not been put to a real foreign hostility test yet. Do you honestly think their academic grades will make them perform with the skill and the courage of the Israeli Generals, none of whom would be promoted over our scholars because they are non-scholars? This is how unthinking those running our country are.

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  • don't know how to ask why?:

    When I was in OCS, there was a contingent form a friendly foreign country that gave us a training exhibition. That contingent comprised of privates, corporals and a sergeant and their performance was far more impressive than any of us designated future officers whose selection was based solely on exam grades could put up.

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    @ Fair Comment:
    You’ve got it all wrong & certainly it shows that you’re totally out of touch like the PAP govt!
    We’re concurrently over two decades deep into the Knowledge Economy. The focus should be on STEM subjects & S’pore have to channel & nurture more students into this field to at least ensure some success (by law of numbers). One consequence S’pore will have to scrap the useless Meritocracy Policy & discard the Elite School concept. And we can’t look back into the past because S’pore needs to be ready to confront the future. And the future would be machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, automation engineering, cyber-physical integration, etc. The signs are already obvious with new graduates having difficulty finding meaningful jobs in S’pore.
    The present-day educational mechanism isn’t particularly suited to the Knowledge Economy eco-system.
    Instead of exams & rote-learning, the educational mechanism should foster “out of the box thinking”, form project based collaboration; inculcate self-learning & cultivate interest in student’s particular fields of speciality.
    I don’t know what your beef is with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but she is one tough cookie inspite of her age ie. 29 years old! She is daring enough to cross swords with tyrant Donald Trump. For that, she earns my respect! S’pore has too many obedient & voiceless young ones. Too engrossed with selfie taking & social media; too apathetic with the political stagnation to even realized that they faced a genocidal future. At least the Hong Kongers realized that they had to agitate against the Status Quo. S’poreans are like lambs heading for slaughter at the abattoir!

    Fair Comment:
    Don’t follow the U.S. system where graduates like AOC are aplenty. Schools need exams to know how these students’ interest and abilities in the various subjects are. Studying 11 years without exams and producing graduates who could not understand the past 11 years is not the answer.

    If Singapore children does not grind and excel in the world, they would be replaced by the Chinese in all sectors. Singapore’s education system is well respected throughout the world. There could be fine tuning to improve with the advances in science and technology but to not go on to produce thousands of AOCs please.

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  • @Fair Comment:

    Fair Comment:

    If Singapore children does not grind and excel in the world, they would be replaced by the Chinese in all sectors.

    Singapore raised products are unable to make any headway into China or elsewhere but are already being replaced in droves by those from China, India and elsewhere on our home tuft. Won’t you question what is already wrong instead, rather than parroting those in charge who don’t understand what is going on?

    Fair Comment:

    Singapore’s education system is well respected throughout the world.

    The ruling elites like to bask in the glory with vanity and to (unthinkingly) look at things through rose-tinted glasses without questioning what those outsiders who heaped praises on us without prying deeper into our reality missed.

    Outsiders are able to see the high exam pass rates and the A grades and the high PISA scores, but missed realizing that SG raised products don’t out-think or out-speak or are less innovative or creative than those raised elsewhere outside performing mechanical tasks.

    And the msm they control has been relentlessly trumpeting our (their) ‘achievements’ out to the unquestioning minds. Now you understand why SG minds are not much different from those of the N.Koreans?

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    @ oxygen:
    Sad but very true! Many smart S’poreans who have sent their children for an overseas education & bluntly told them never to return! Because they are the ones who can see that the S’pore Mechanism is failing! Because the political sphere is too stifling, too suffocating; the elitist social order closing ranks (crony capitalism, Uniformed (elite) members seconded to GLCs) & the system getting ripe for a Cataclysmic Event down the road. Not if but when!
    The Merdeka Generation proving to be the only S’pore generation to have achieve some accumulated capital & prosperity. The next Generation (after Merdeka) from here on & the subsequent ones will have it tough! I don’t think that they are even aware of their grim future going forward! “THE LIES, FANTASY AND PROPAGANDA” that were propagated from kindergarten already too embedded within their psyche even to comprehend their dismal existence!

    oxygen: ON EDUCATION, PAPpypolitics is a COMPLETE FAILURE.
    …OUR KIDS ARE ALL BRAIN-DAMAGED BEYOND REPAIR.
    In a jungle survival world now, it is either you disrupt or be disrupted. OUR KIDS ARE TAUGHT TO OBEY ONLY…
    Our kids have to discover the world and learn to survive as adult…

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  • when will the world pin-point:

    don't know how to ask why?:

    Yet, no SG raised mind can out-think or out-speak or be out-creative than an US raised mind.

    Do a search on Youtube on any topic and you can find literally millions of videos that showed how a US-raised mind impressed yet not a single one from a SG raised mind.

    They have been tinkering with our education system for years (decades?) now and paid multimillion-dollar salaries to do so, yet we are still trying to figure out how.

    When will the world start pin-pointing out to a SG-raised mind or personality that impress?

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  • AOC: A | PAP MPs: F:

    Fair Comment:
    Don’t follow the U.S. system where graduates like AOC are aplenty.

    don't know how to ask why?:
    Yet, no SG raised mind can out-think or out-speak or be out-creative than an US raised mind (speaking in broad generalization, of course).

    Do a search on Youtube on any topic and you can find literally millions of videos that showed how a US-raised mind impressed yet not a single one from a SG raised mind.

    Yet AOC impressed more than any of the PAP MP’s.

    Which PAP MP (or any SG-raised top scholar) has his/her own mind or is able to speak his/her mind? Or can out-speak AOC?

    My grading:

    AOC: A
    PAP MP’s: F

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  • AOC vs PAP MPs/Top scholars:

    Rabble-rouser:

    @ Fair Comment:
    I don’t know what your beef is with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but she is one tough cookie inspite of her age ie. 29 years old! She is daring enough to cross swords with tyrant Donald Trump.

    Yes, which SG top scholar or PAP MP can handle that?

    Which of our top-scholar multimillion-dollar Ministers impress more than Trump or Obama?

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  • @ Fair Comment::

    Fair Comment:
    Don’t follow the U.S. system where graduates like AOC are aplenty.

    @ Fair Comment:

    Heng Swee Keat was selected to be our next PM because the PAP meticulous selection process deemed him to be best among them all.

    Watch all the speeches made by HSK and all the speeches made by Obama and tell us who you think has better ability to think.

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  • Zero from SG education system:

    Fair Comment:
    Don’t follow the U.S. system where graduates like AOC are aplenty.

    Most of the major innovations and best creative ideas still come from the US. So are the Nobel prizes. From the SG education system = zero

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  • Project Zero statement:

    Nothing could be more obvious than that we want learning that matters – that makes a difference in learners’ lives. But nothing could be LESS obvious than that we are getting it. To be sure, in the course of their schooling, students learn some skills that they put to work often — basic literacy and numeracy for example.

    However, they also do encounter ideas from history and civics that might inform citizenship; health science that might inform personal care; reading strategies (not just basic ‘decoding’) that might inform active reading-to-learn; moral precepts that might inform good conduct.
    Yet everyday experience suggests that many students DO NOT learn such content well enough and in the right ways to translate content into action.

    Learning that should matter doesn’t (seem to matter)!

    (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

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  • Eric:

    Haha, most of our present day students mostly become book smart thru tuitions. They lack thinking and creativity. Something wrong with the present education system.

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