Yesterday, Education minister Ong Ye Kung announced that the current system of streaming in secondary schools will be replaced by subject-based banding. A new 2024 Singapore Common national examination and certification framework will ensure that all secondary school students end up sitting for the same exam and end up with one type of certificate.
Currently, after PSLE, students are streamed into 4 kinds of programmes. These programmes are summarised in the table below.
The Current Streaming System
|PSLSE aggregate range in 2017||Stream||Programme (duration)|
|250 and above (approximate)||(1) Integrated Programme (IP)||(a) Through-train A-Level exams (6 years)|
(b) Through-train International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme (6 years)
|188 and above||(2) Express||O-Level Programme (4 years)|
|152 – 199||(3) Normal (Academic)||N-Level Programme (5 years)|
|159 and below||(4) Normal (Technical)||N(T)-Level Programme (4 years)|
The New Subject-based Banding System
From 2020 onwards, with the exception of IP (Integrated Programme) schools, 25 schools will do away with streaming. All schools in Singapore will adopt the new subject-based banding by 2024. Under this new scheme, all students will eventually graduate with one common certificate. All Sec 1 students will be allowed to take all subjects at one of these 3 levels – G1, G2 and G3 – based on their PSLE results. As the students progress through secondary school, they will be able to move up the 3 levels if they do well in the respective subject or subjects.
|PSLE aggregate in 2017||Programme|
|250 and above (approximate)||Current and future||Integrated Programme (IP)|
(a) Through-train A-Level exams
(b) Through-train International Baccalaureate (IB) exams
|Below 188 (approximate)||Implemented in 2020 and completed by 2024||New Common 2024 national examination (replacing the current O-Level, N-Level and N(T)-Level exams)|
A Positive Move
This move is good for secondary students as it removes the stigma of being labelled as a Normal or Technical student. It also encourages Singaporean students to concentrate on the subjects they are really passionate about instead of feeling that they are pigeon-holed as ‘weak’ students.
The Impact On Primary School Education
While the subject-based banding will do away with the Normal-Express divide in secondary school, it is important to recognise that the Singapore O-Levels is one of the world’s most prestigious and challenging exams for 16 year olds. As such, it is still very important that students have a very strong foundation in primary school. While there will be a new common exam for all non-IP students in their last year of secondary school, the grades of each student will still (and rightly so) reflect their achievement level in comparison with the cohort. Last but not least, for students vying for Singapore’s ‘top’ secondary (IP) schools, this major shift in the MOE school streaming system will not have an impact on them. That is unless, the students prefer to focus on a few favourite subjects and choose to go for the new 2024 Singapore Common national examination and certification framework .