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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 23 September 2005

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MOE opens more gates for secondary students


Greater Flexibility and Choice for Learners

The Ministry of Education (MOE) will provide greater flexibility and choice in our educational system, building on initiatives in recent years.
The enhancements are aimed at unlocking the full potential of our students, by providing more opportunities for them to pursue subjects and activities that match their interests. The key changes are as follows:
a. Provide greater flexibility and customisation in the Normal (Academic) [N(A)] Course;

i. Extend Elective Modules to N(A) students;

ii. Provide for selected N(A) students to bypass the N level examinations and progress directly to Secondary 5 to take O level examinations;

b. Encourage secondary schools to offer new O level subjects;
c. Study the feasibility of developing niche programmes in selected schools involving linkages with polytechnics.
These changes were announced by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Education, at the MOE Work Plan Seminar 2005 on 22 Sep 2005.
MOE will support schools by introducing Elective Modules (EMs) to students in the N(A) course from 2006. EMs are currently available to students in the Normal (Technical) [N(T)] course in several schools. Schools can introduce EMs that vary in depth and difficulty, and customise them to suit their students needs, in both the N(A) and N(T) courses.
Practical and hands-on learning can deepen students understanding of concepts and help them discover their interests and talents. It will also expose the more practice-oriented students to fields that they can pursue subsequently in the Polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education.
MOE will give schools the flexibility to select N(A) students at the end of Secondary 2 or Secondary 3, based on their school-based performance, to skip the N levels. For schools that are ready, they can select such students from 2006.
The first batch of selected N(A) students1 will therefore skip the N level examinations in 2007.
Currently, N(A) students sit for the N level examinations at the end of Secondary 4 for progression to Secondary 5, where they will sit for the O level examinations.
70% to 80% of the 10,000 N(A) students in each cohort proceed to Secondary 5 after the N level examinations.
About 40% of N(A) students obtain at least five O level passes. It would be educationally meaningful for some of these N(A) students to skip the N level examinations.
The time freed up from preparing for the N level examinations can be used to provide a more seamless transition between the N and O level curriculum. Students can also pace their learning better over five years. Schools may also use the time to engage students in enrichment activities and broader learning experiences.
The N level examinations will continue to be an important benchmark examination for the majority of N(A) students, who will benefit from preparing for it. It will also provide greater flexibility of choice in terms of qualifications and progression pathways.
As announced at MOEs 2004 Work Plan Seminar, secondary schools will be able to offer new O level subjects in addition to, or in place of, an elective subject not offered in the upper secondary curriculum.
This enables schools to build up their curriculum niches to cater to students who have the interest and aptitude in specific fields of study.
For a start, schools have been allowed to choose subjects offered by the Cambridge International Examinations that are currently not offered by MOE, as possible new subjects.
This phased approach allows schools to gain experience. Over time, schools could partner the Post Secondary Education Institutes to develop other new subjects.
MOE has decided to allow 12 secondary schools to offer new General Certificate of Education (GCE) & International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) O level subjects in their schools.
From 2006, the new subjects to be offered are Drama, Economics, and Computer Studies. Drama will be offered from Secondary 1 and/or Secondary 2, while Computer Studies and Economics will be offered from Secondary 3. A summary of the schools and the new subjects offered is at Annex A. More schools will be allowed to offer new subjects when they are ready to do so.
1 Selected Sec 3 N(A) students in 2006

Source:  Press Release 22 Sep 2005

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