16 June 2019
A frequently raised question is whether the Ministry of Education would consider reducing class sizes from 40 to 25 students to allow teachers to give more attention to the students within their charge.
But Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has pointed out that the oft-quoted 1:40 teacher-student ratio within a single classroom is in fact an inaccurate perception, and in fact, the ratio should be 1:12 or 1:13 for secondary schools in terms of the overall numbers of teachers and students in a school, and 1:11 for junior colleges.
These ratios are considered healthy by OECD standards.
Pointing out a lesson Mr Ong himself gleaned from studying Finland’s education system, he said: “The moment the government does the popular thing to say, ‘I legislate class size to 20’, the (extra) resources disappear. The weaker students are deprived of teachers. Hence, this would be something I will be extremely reluctant to do.”
Member of Parliament Louis Ng recently called for the Government to stop streaming in secondary schools because it contributes to the social divide.
Schools can explicitly address the issue of socio-economic status in the national education curriculum so that students understand from young that one’s level of conventional achievement (for example, academic results) may be constricted by one’s access to opportunities that exist alongside one’s socio-economic background.
Teachers can also receive training on how to foster an inclusive environment, to engage students of different backgrounds in open conversations to enhance understanding among them. Additionally, streaming outcomes can be complemented with assessment tools that are proven to be less biased by one’s socioeconomic backgrounds, such as measures of conscientiousness, motivation and resilience.