Chan Chun Sing on why subject-based banding is the next step in education reform

Recently, Minister for Education Mr Chan Chun Sing participated in a panel discussion on moving beyond grades.

Organised by the Straits Times, the discussion was driven by the imminent move in secondary schools to replace the (some might say archaic) streaming system with full subject-based banding (SBB) next year. 

When implemented, there is little doubt that SBB will be one of the boldest reforms to our education system, with far-reaching effects on how we view learning as a lifelong habit rather than an intermittent chore. 

During the hour-long session, Minister Chan spoke about the need to recognise different definitions and pathways of success. He also touched on how we can support our students in realising their fullest potential and preparing them for the future.

In the words of Minister Chan, here are three reasons why SBB is the next step forward in our education reforms.

On the need to champion a system with different pathways because interests change and people develop differently

“I think it’s important for us to have a system whereby as people develop, it allows them to have different pathways to realise their dreams.

So even if you didn’t choose to take a particular subject at a higher level in Secondary One, but along the way, you find your interest and passion, then you can pursue this. Now this is quite different from the past whereby one exam determined the rest of your four or five years.

Whatever it is, we want a system that can allow you to pace your own development and learn according to your different needs.”

How SBB can reduce streaming stigma, encourage social mixing and develop empathy and respect among students  

“Nowadays you have the chance to meet more people across the entire cohort from your school…and I hope our students realise they all have their respective strengths. 

You cannot be complacent or arrogant to think you are good at everything. There are things that perhaps you are not so good at, and you can also learn from the academically weaker students. Likewise, the academically weaker students must also understand that they are not weak at every subject.

I hope that all our students grow up respecting each other as individuals. Do not pigeonhole people just according to one dimension of abilities.”

Cultivating a culture of lifelong learning to take Singapore towards SG100

“I want every child to be able to realise his or her potential in his or her own time throughout life. My yardstick for success is not how well they do in school for the first 15 years, it’s how well they live for the next 50 years beyond school.

We can always learn something from others if they are doing better than us… If we are doing better than someone else, it is our responsibility to take care of them and help them along so that success for Singapore is a team sport.

I always use the Spider Man rule to encourage all our students – To those with great abilities comes great responsibilities. We have to take care of one another. And if we can do that, you will be a beautiful Singapore towards SG100.”

Curious to find out what else Minister Chan said? Click here to watch the panel discussion in full.


Photo Source: MOE/Facebook