In his response, Mr Chan noted several issues MOE considered. “First, who gets to go to the through-train programme?” he added.
At Primary 1, it is difficult to know the abilities and interests of children, said the Education Minister.
“If the through-train programme is to a very popular school, and you know which one I’m talking about, I’m sure there is no shortage of takers for this through-train programme,” he added.
“But what about those who develop a bit later and want the chance to go to some of these schools?”
This could also affect the social mixing in schools, said Mr Chan.
If parents decide that their children should go through a through-train programme, they might realise later on that their child is not suitable for it, he added.
“If we have no checkpoint at all, then how do we help our students to get into the correct educational setting?”
This leads to another issue – every secondary school that has a through-train programme must be able to cater to the diversity of learners, said the Education Minister.
“How do we resource these schools with a complete suite of programmes for the students that we have taken in at P1 with the promise that regardless of their abilities … that we will be able to provide them with the full pathways?”
Adding that MOE is not “ideologically closed” to good ideas, Mr Chan said: “We have considered this, and we are still considering this. And we have to step through the issues, non-trivial issues, systematically.”
Mr Chan shared with Channel 5’s News Tonight the need for everyone, including industry partners, to play a part to improve Singapore’s education system.
“The basic message is that I didn’t want people to think that one education minister by changing some policies or processes, we can change the education system,” he added.
“To change the education system, to evolve the education system, to bring about the results that we want, we need everybody to play their part.”
There is a need to catalyse a change, said Mr Chan. “Not just in process and structures but importantly, to catalyse a change in our mindsets – how we see education, how we define success for the education system, how do we define success for our children not just in schools for the first 15 years, but also in their lives for the next 50 years beyond school.”
He urged industry partners to step up and share with schools the future skillsets that are needed.
“So we shorten the learning loop from frontier industry and business practices and bring it into the schools,” he added.
“Our students will be able to get ready for the future market in a much shorter time.”