The Borneo Post - Good English




Schoolchil­dren are paying a heavy price for Singapore’s success in global education rankings, with rising numbers seeking psychiatri­c help as they struggle to cope with the relentless pressure for academic excellence.

Children are reporting symptoms of anxiety and stress related to school as early as primary school, experts warn, and there have been extreme cases where pupils have been driven to suicide.

Youths often face long days at school, hours of homework, and are then pushed by parents to have private tuition, which is having an

impact on mental wellbeing – a recent report found that overall the city’s pupils reported higher levels of anxiety than average.

Now, in a bid to reduce stress in its schools, Singapore is embarking on reforms that will scrap some academic tests and change the

rigid streaming process.

“We have to balance the joy of learning and the rigour of education,” Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said as he announced some of the changes in parliament earlier this year.

The move comes at a time when more authoritie­s in Asia are being forced to assess if pupils are being overwhelme­d by pressure to perform – Hong Kong’s Child Fatality Review listed problems with schoolwork among one of the key reasons for teen suicide.

Japan reported it’s highest youth suicide rate in 30 years in 2016/17, with officials admitting there is an annual spike on Sept 1 – the start of the new school year.

Singapore has placed education at the heart of its developmen­t since independen­ce in the 1960s and now tops the PISA internatio­nal rankings – a system dubbed the world cup of education – for maths, reading, and science.

But a study by the Organisati­on for Economic Cooperatio­n and Developmen­t (OECD), which conducts the PISA assessment, found that despite academic success Singapore’s students reported higher levels of anxiety about schoolwork than other nations.

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