The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Policy and News » mathed-news

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: Singapore - Say Hello to the New Slim Syllabus
Replies: 0  

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List  
Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Singapore - Say Hello to the New Slim Syllabus
Posted: Sep 7, 1998 5:32 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

[Note: Our thanks to Prof. LEE PengYee (Republic of Singapore) for sharing
this article with
us ... one more (longer one) to follow. Prof. Lee suggests that we can
find the latest news on content reduction at <>

From The Straits Times (Singapore), Saturday, July 25, 1998

Say hello to a new, slim school syllabus

Sidebar: School syllabuses will be trimmed by up to 30 per cent and
students will be examined on the new syllabuses starting next year. Sandra
Davie finds out how the curriculum cuts will affect your child's learning
in class.


Some topics are covered in two or even three subjects now. Such repetition
not only wastes time but makes the students bored.

For example, in lower secondary classes, students learn about classes of
food and a balanced diet in both science and home economics lessons.

From next year, these topics will be covered in home economics only.

Sometimes, topics are repeated even within the same subject. For example,
in geography, the study of forests and forestry is covered when students
study deforestation in the Amazon basin and again when they study the
timber industry in Sabah.

One will be lopped off in the slimmed-down syllabus.


Outdated topics that are not relevant now will be removed.

For example, upper secondary students spend two to four geography periods
studying the tin industry in West Malaysia.

It is a sunset industry and of little relevance today, so this topic will
be scrapped.

Singapore is not an agrarian society, so they will not need to learn about
shifting cultivation in geography.

In addition, normal-stream technical students will learn about the Internet
in their computer applications course, instead of studying Teleview.


Some hard-to-grasp concepts will get the chop.

Most lower secondary students find it difficult to understand the plate
tectonics theory on the movement of the earth's crust.

From next year, it will be taught in Secondary 3 or 4.

Grammar items that have proven too difficult have been removed from the
Primary 5 and 6 Malay language syllabus.

Mr. Lee Kah Chuen of the Ministry of Education's curriculum planning and
development division pointed out: "If a topic is too abstract, it may put
a student off the subject."

"If the teacher simplifies a topic too much, then students may go away with
a warped understanding of the topic."


Case studies will be cut back. Mr. Lee said: "Teachers sometimes give far
too many examples. It takes up too much time and students will get bored

In A-level geography, for example, teachers may give up to four case
studies on population change -- two each from developing and developed
countries. The load will be halved.


Topics not critical to a student's understanding of a subject will be scrapped.

Lower secondary science students will not have to do topics like
convergence and divergence of light. In geography, they will not have to
study topics like land and water barriers to the physical movement of man.

Mr. Lee said: "These are less fundamental concepts and students do not
have to learn these topics to understand the other topics."

Primary 1 to 4 pupils will also have fewer words and proverbs to learn when
they study Chinese. They will only have to recognise some selected
characters, and leave learning how to write them in Primary 5 and 6. Some
characters like "bear" and "swallow" have many strokes and are difficult to


With the extra time, students will have more computer-based learning, and
teachers can work into their lessons thinking skills and issues that affect

For example, teachers could use traffic statistics, after the
implementation of Electronic Road Pricing, to teach students how to
calculate median and mean, and at the same time, educate them on the need
for ERP.

Students can also be asked to think of other ways of solving traffic
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.