After MOE's announcement last month on reducing the number of tests, many tuition centres are stepping forward to fill the vacuum keenly felt by many parents who crave for some indicators of their kids' performance.
Students participating in a mathematics class. (File photo: TODAY)
SINGAPORE: Right after the Education Ministry's (MOE) announcement last month that it would be reducing the number of examinations for students in primary and secondary schools, tuition agency Gavin's Tuition quickly surveyed some of its students' parents to find out what they thought of the move.
Over 130 parents responded: While they appreciated the ministry's move to reduce stress on students, an overwhelming majority (90 per cent) said they were concerned this would make it harder for them to assess how their child was doing in school.
The reduction of mid-year examinations would not provide them with "a true gauge" of the child's academic performance in the earlier part of the school year, and they feared that it would lead to a "nasty surprise" at the year-end examinations, said the tuition centre's director Gavin Ng.
He added that parents whom he has spoken to were also largely in favour of keeping the centre's in-house mid-year and end-of-year examinations, which are set by its tutors, even though the schools are removing such examinations for certain levels.
And he has plans to meet the demand: Next year, the tuition centre is officially making available its in-house exams to students who are not enrolled with the centre. Anyone will be able sign up to take the exams for a fee.
He is also piloting a series of classes, known as "stress-free learning programmes" which focus "less on drilling" and more on experiential lessons, such as learning about robotics and coding.
Gavin's Tuition is not the only one which has been quick to react to the recent changes. Other tuition agencies and tutors interviewed said that in the light of reduction in examinations in schools, they planned to introduce new programmes or tweak their existing ones.
Ignite Tuition Centre, for example, is looking to introducing more enrichment classes to supplement its current tuition classes for its primary to secondary school students.
Students attending a mathematics class at a primary school. (File photo: TODAY)
Its operations manager Joy Ng said the centre will expand its enrichment programme to include courses on Chinese creative writing and science enrichment, for example, from next year.
Ignite, which has about 350 students, is also planning to roll out more "individual-learning assessments", in the form of ungraded, bi-monthly tests held during lesson time.
Such assessments focus on a student's non-academic skills, such as public speaking and presentation skills, Ms Ng said.
As part of changes to the education system, announced about two weeks ago by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, mid-year examinations for students in Primary 3, Primary 5, Secondary 1 and Sececondary 3 will be removed in phases from next year.
Primary 2 students will no longer have to sit for the year-end examinations from 2019. Currently, they do not have to take the mid-year examinations, while Primary 1 students do not have mid-year or year-end examinations.
After the announcement, Mr Ong acknowledged concerns that schools or tuition centres will undo the change by introducing other forms of assessments that are similar in nature but "are not called examinations".
Speaking earlier this month on the sidelines of the Singapore International Technical and Vocational Education and Training Conference, Mr Ong noted that some tuition centres had expressed intentions to "simulate examination-like conditions for students to make up for the lost examinations".
"I strongly urge them not to do so," he said, adding:
Doing so would just be preying on the apprehension and anxieties of parents and students.
In their defence, however, some tuition agencies say they are simply meeting a demand.