Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

MOE to reduce scope of exams in 2021, hire more school counsellors among moves to ensure students’ mental well-being

SINGAPORE 一 With the widespread disruption to lives caused by Covid-19, a set of topics taught last by schools to graduating cohorts, known as "common last" topics, will be removed from the N-, O- and A-level examinations this year, as part of moves to promote mental well-being among students here.

The Ministry of Education will work with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social and Family Development to develop an overarching national strategy and action plan on mental health and well-being.

The Ministry of Education will work with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social and Family Development to develop an overarching national strategy and action plan on mental health and well-being.

  • MOE will be removing common last topics from N-, O- and A-level examinations in 2021
  • It will also reduce the scope of final-year examinations for non-graduating students this year
  • MOE will hire more school counsellors and re-institute CCAs over the next few weeks
  • Students who seek psychological support should not be stigmatised, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said 
  • He also called for more frank discussions about the definition of success 

 

SINGAPORE 一 With the widespread disruption to lives caused by Covid-19, a set of topics taught last by schools to graduating cohorts, known as "common last" topics, will be removed from the N-, O- and A-level examinations this year, as part of moves to promote mental well-being among students here. 

This is an expansion from an announcement by the Ministry of Education (MOE) last month that common last topics would be removed from the Primary School Leaving Examination this year. 

Schools will also reduce the scope of final-year examinations for non-graduating students this year to alleviate their revision load, and more school counsellors will be trained and hired in the next few years, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said. 

He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (July 27) about mental health among students after a recent incident at River Valley High School, in which a 16-year-old student allegedly killed a 13-year-old fellow student with an axe. 

The 16-year-old was charged with murder the next day and has been remanded for psychiatric assessment. 

Mr Chan encouraged River Valley High School students who have been struggling after this incident to reach out for help, and appealed to the rest of society not to stigmatise those who come forward to seek help 一 be they students, educators or families. 

“Reaching out for help is a sign of strength and not weakness,” Mr Chan said. “Let this incident motivate all of us to take down our barriers and treat struggling individuals who step forward with care and compassion.”

With the measures that the authorities have planned, he said that his ministry hopes to work with parents and community groups to build “a caring and enabling society that gives greater attention to the well-being of our young”. 

Besides reducing the scope of examinations, other measures MOE will undertake in the near term include:

  • Increasing the number of teacher-counsellors from 700 now to 1,000 in the next few years

  • Recruiting more school counsellors 

  • Having teachers check in on their students at the start of every school term 

  • Re-instituting co-curricular activities (CCAs) for secondary schools and pre-universities within the next few weeks

  • Providing teachers with enhanced professional development on mental health literacy as a baseline

Mr Chan said that MOE also aims to strengthen its partnership with parents through parent support groups in schools, and encouraged each one to form a sub-group focusing on the mental well-being of children and families. 

He noted that safe distancing rules in schools due to the pandemic meant that many interactive and community activities, such as CCAs, which serve as an avenue for students to build bonds and grow emotionally, have been suspended. 

“Covid-19 has compounded the challenges our young people face. Much of their usual social support networks and routines have been disrupted, leading to prolonged periods of uncertainty, anxiety and loneliness for many.  

“We want to create more time and space for students to pursue experiences that broaden their emotional and psychological horizons and strengthen their resilience.” 

Besides these, Mr Chan also said that a “whole-of-government” approach is needed. 

A new task force tackling mental wellness by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social and Family Development aims to develop an overarching national strategy and action plan on mental health and well-being.

He said that MOE will work with these two ministries to give focus to the youth segment. 

As students are also influenced by factors beyond school, Mr Chan noted that the tragic incident at River Valley High could have happened outside a school setting. 

Society as a whole thus has a role to play in building a caring and nurturing culture, so that everyone, especially the youth, will know that they need not go through life’s toughest moments alone, he said. 

This could start within people’s own social circles, he added. For example, parents could spend more time listening to their children’s thoughts and feelings, understand what they find stressful, and give them space to process their emotions.

“We can have more frank conversations with our children and families on the definition of success. As a parent myself, I have come to realise that success must be defined by helping my children to realise their own potential, develop their own strengths and ultimately, be confident with themselves,” Mr Chan said. 

“Success cannot, should not and must not be the constant need to be compared with someone else and having to live up to somebody else’s image.”   He also said that parents' greatest gift to their children is to accept and love them unconditionally, and help them be at ease with who they are, and they should be affirmed and given the confidence to find their own way.   “Do our actions and choice of words build people up or tear people down? As adults, let us set the right tone and example,” he said. 

“Let us break the vicious circles of negativity by standing up for others and responding with grace and compassion. We can stop toxic conversations online and amplify messages of strength, care and positivity through our online networks instead. All of us can be kind to each other. All of us can look out for one another, no matter how tough the competition might be or how intense the pressures can be.”

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

Related topics

River Valley High School death mental health Chan Chun Sing MOE education

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.