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Topic: Singapore - Syllabi At All Levels to be Cut
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Singapore - Syllabi At All Levels to be Cut
Posted: Sep 6, 1998 5:18 PM
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[Note: Our thanks to Prof. Lee PengYee (Singapore) for sharing this
article with us ...
more to follow.]

From The Sunday Times (Singapore) - Sunday, July 19, 1998, p. 36

School syllabuses at all levels to be cut next year

By Sandra Davie

Sidebar: There is no change in the way exam papers are set but teachers
will get more time to provide computer-based learning and also infuse
thinking skills

School syllabuses will be cut across the board at all levels from next
year, giving teachers more time to provide computer-based learning, and
infuse thinking skills and national education messages into their lessons.

All primary school pupils, including those sitting for their Primary School
Leaving Examination, will be examined on the slimmed-down syllabuses at the
end of 1999.

For O-level, A-level and N-level examinations, the new reduced syllabuses
will come into play only from 2000 onwards.

But there will be no change in the way examination papers are set and
marked. The number and types of questions will remain the same, except in
five subjects -- A-level physics, chemistry, biology, further maths C and
O-level additional maths.

Reducing content in these subjects makes it difficult to keep the same exam

Education Minister Teo Chee Hean announced in March that the curriculum was
being reviewed, based on recommendations made by a committee consisting of
university and polytechnic representatives, as well as employers.

The committee considered current syllabuses too heavy and recommended that
they be cut, to allow more time for creative thinking and such activities
as project work.

MOE's director of curriculum planning and development, Mrs. Chan Jee Kun,
gave details of the cuts on Thursday. She said the content cut was an
interim measure, pending a wider overhaul of Singapore's school curriculum
and assessment system, which would be put in place in 2001.

Following the minister's announcement, MOE's curriculum specialists
reviewed 162 existing subject syllabuses and cut the content by 10 to 30
per cent for 117.

For the other 45, mostly languages, content could be cut by up to only 9
per cent because students had to acquire certain skills to be competent in
these subjects.

The cuts were made after consulting teachers as well as the institutions
that took in school leavers, namely the universities, the Institutes of
Technical Education and polytechnics.

The ministry also consulted the University of Cambridge Local Examinations
Syndicate, so that examinations could be adjusted to test students on the
reduced syllabuses.

Mrs. Chan stressed that the cuts had not compromised standards.

She said: "Our goal is to have a curriculum that will balance breadth and
depth and at the same time, maintain the same rigour and high standards
that we have built up over the years."

Generally, cuts were made where the content was not critical to
understanding the topic, inconsistent with real world practice, too
difficult or too broad. With the cuts, teachers would have the flexibility
and time to incorporate thinking skills and national education messages in
lessons, as well as make better use of computers in teaching.

She added: "Ultimately, what we hope for is that the reduction of content
will help shift the focus to a teaching and learning culture which nurtures
innovative and creative thinking, life-long learning and the ability to
work in teams."


Student levels in 1999--Curriculum--National examinations

Primary 1 to 6--New syllabus from Jan 1999--Primary 4 streaming exams and
PSLE to be based on new syllabus from 1999

Secondary 1 to 3 (all streams)--New syllabus from Jan 1999--GCE N- and O-
levels exams will be based on new syllabus from Year 2000

Secondary 4 (Special and Express)
Secondary 4 Normal
Secondary 5 Normal--Existing syllabus will be used in 1999--1999 GCE N- and
O-levels exams based on existing syllabus

JC1/Pre-U 1 and 2--New syllabus from Jan 1999--GCE A level will be based on
the new syllabus from Year 2000

JC2 and Pre-U 3--Existing syllabus will be used in 1999--1999 GCE A level
based on existing syllabus

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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