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How Singapore's Education System Affects Your Child's Future

In a place like Singapore where the education system is structured, deemed competitive and where children are streamed according to their grades, how does this limit a child’s ability to excel? We speak to Sebastien Barnard, Regional Communications & Marketing Manager, APAC at International Baccalaureate to learn more.

“The arguments for and against streaming in education have been a long and on-going debate. However, there’s been a growing weight of academic research warning of the issues associated with streaming students according to their ability, especially at an early age,” says Sebastien.

So how does this Singapore’s stringent education system affects your child?

What are the different types of education?

Sebastien: For simplicity’s sake, let’s put them down to two basic categories: Teacher-centric and student-centred.

Most traditional education types tend to focus on teacher-centric approaches. These are more authoritarian and conservative, and emphasise the values of knowledge, content and the curriculum. Student-centred philosophies like the International Baccalaureate programmes focus on inquiry-based and concept-based learning.

This prepares students for an uncertain and ever changing future. As the learner is at the centre of the educational process, encouraging both personal and academic achievement while being motivated to become active and responsible members of their community.

Girl learning

Are tuitions and enrichment classes the only way to improve a child’s academic results?

S: Different children require different motivations and learning strategies. Some students take to tuition well and find it helpful and useful, while others may be disinterested, tired, unmotivated.

In my experience, tuition can be a double-edged sword that motivates some and negatively affects others. As a parent, I find it important to balance my kids learning and revising with down time, relaxation, social and physical activities. I always encourage my children to take their studies very seriously but also not to neglect rest, reflection and revitalisation. Socialising with peers and participating in sports or cultural activities are important in ensuring a student is well-rounded in their experiences and social capabilities.

What are some common mistakes that parents make?

S: I think it is very important for a parent to take the time to understand what sort of student their child is. Different strategies work for different students. I think parents often resort to lecturing and learning through repetition, when perhaps what the student needs is coaching, guiding, explanation and inquiry. An IB education for example stresses learning how to learn, and very often this method of inquiry based learning motivates a student and provides them with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in their learning.

Boy Dressed As A Doctor

How important is it for children to have a goal or future career in mind? 

S: Understanding where you are going and how to get there is a very powerful tool and motivator. It helps students focus and gives them purpose for learning. My daughter for example very early on decided that she wanted to be a teacher. This, I think, helped in her studies and gave her a direction that motivated her.

However not everybody is like that. Many students have no idea what they would like to do after their academic pursuits and that is still ok. Some students need to explore the world around them taking in many different experiences before they settle on something they enjoy and/or are good at.

 And besides how many of us ended up in careers we planned for when still at school, let alone careers related to our university degrees?