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No More Mid-Year Exams: A Big Step in the Right Direction

March 8, 2022

#Community Future of EducationMOE

This just in from the Ministry of Education – by 2023, mid-year exams for all primary and secondary school levels will be removed.
This is a huge step in the right direction. For me, the biggest benefit this brings about (and as pointed out by the ministry) is the curriculum time freed up for teachers and students to explore areas of interest and learn new skills.

As an employer, investor and entrepreneur, it’s absolutely clear to me what matters in life is what you can do with what you know.

Forget the old cliche about who you know. An old boy/girl network helps, but it’s not going to get your very far if you don’t have the work ethic and resourcefulness to make things happen. And the integrity to do right by people.
But I digress. The problem with mainstream education all around the world (not just in Singapore) is the emphasis on knowledge acquisition. Google has done a remarkable job of organising the world’s information.

Human beings cannot out google Google. What we can do that search engines can’t is to build on existing knowledge to create new knowledge/products/inventions. Push the boundaries of science. This requires skills. Knowledge is not enough.

With a lighter curriculum, I’m hopeful that teachers will use that time to help kids learn 21st century skills like critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, communication etc. Help young people become confident, global citizens. Show them the endless possibilities the world has to offer and help them find their place in the world.

A friend pointed out that many parents are not happy with this change because they want to know where their kids are at in terms of understanding and also in comparison with their peers.
My advice to these parents is to put on a different lens.

Elon Musk did not revolutionise the space, automobile and energy industries by being better than his classmates at answering exam questions.

He did it through reasoning from first principles and imagining what might be possible with the laws of physics being the only constraint. There’s no textbook for that.

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