The Singapore education system has been noted for the high stress of participating students. The education system, with its unique characteristics and unique needs, had led to the establishment of the streaming system in 1984.
The implementation of streaming was to cater to the needs of each student according to his or her academic ability. Streaming sought to prevent the occasion where academically inclined students become insufficiently challenged with the educational curriculum and weaker students struggle to keep afloat. Hence, by streaming students, it allowed for the academically stronger students to be categorized and placed in a more rigorous course, whereas weaker students are given more time and guidance in their learning.
However, this system has instilled high stress levels in the students as individuals strive to get into the top stream to be given a more challenging education. To be able to cope with a challenging and rigorous course curriculum is tied in together with an individual’s pride, where being enrolled in the top stream meant that an individual is more ‘intellectual’ than others in a lower stream. Stress comes not only in the form of academics. Students also compete on the basis of who can ‘do it all’, excelling both in co-curricular activities as well as academics. A successful student, in this case, not only excels academically, but also participates actively in co-curricular activities, community service projects and holds leadership positions in school. http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~han20a/classweb/challenges.html
Anybody who has gone through 15 to 20 years of studies in Singapore will tell you the same thing. There is an overbearing focus on grades and paper qualifications are elevated to unholy heights and worshipped. Students are taught to be risk-averse in our rigid and conformist education environment. Plenty of precious energy and attention is diverted to practicing answering questions correctly. The school curriculum runs on a syllabus with answers to questions that are either right or wrong. And there is limited upside to being too creative when taking exams. Students are reduced to giving textbook answers to textbook questions. Walk into any Popular bookstore and tell me it doesn’t make good money selling 10-year series textbooks and assessment guides providing model answers. Eventually, it is difficult to unlearn the bad habits instilled by education. http://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/the-flipside/lack-drive-due-singapore-education-system-015701542.html
Due to Singapore’s lack of natural resources, there is a heavy emphasis put on human capital, and therefore this has resulted in a fiercely competitive education system. Furthermore, schools also offer children the first brush with the fight for economic survival in a country vulnerable to the winds of regional stability. It is also true that with emerging markets from China, India and other parts of Asia, Singapore has to continually step up our game, and we simply cannot loosen up in the pursuit to produce scholars who will in turn drive the future economy of Singapore. This mindset of wanting to remain competitive, has caused negative changes in the education system as compared to the past, and this ultimately, has ingrained a certain kind of mindset in the minds of students in Singapore now.
The truth is that Singapore’s education system has been skewed to become more and more academic-based instead of being learning-based. It places extreme emphasis on results at all costs and of course, there would be the stress that goes along with securing them. Singapore’s education system is always labeled as an “overheated pressure cooker”, where society’s demands cause them to strive for success, even from a tender age. Examples could be that increasingly more primary 1 students are attending tuition classes and enrichment classes outside of school. Even from 7 years old, they have to deal with external pressure apart from the stress the school had already placed on them. There is an overbearing focus on grades, and paper qualifications are elevated to a standard where people have to struggle and be under immense pressure in order to achieve them. This results in students becoming more and more risk-aversed in this rigid and conformist education environment, where most of our energy and attention are diverted to practicing answering questions correctly.