Singapore: Math Curriculum in Primary Education
The Importance of Math Education in Singapore
Singapore is very aware that math learning is a fundamental part of any education system with the objective to prepare citizens for the twenty-first century. This is reflected in the document describing the education reform that was first implemented in 2013.
The nation knows that the development of a highly qualified workforce and with a solid base in math is crucial for supporting an economy rooted in innovation and technology.
Math is key in many aspects of our everyday lives, from interpreting the information that we read in a newspaper to making decisions about our personal accountability. Furthermore, many disciplines—in both the science field and the business field—are supported by math.
On the other hand, the study of math is an excellent training for the mind, and for developing the ability to think logically, abstractly, critically, and creatively. These are important competencies that twenty-first century students must learn.
A Curriculum Adapted to Students’ Skills and Interests
In Singapore, they are conscious that not all students are the same, and not all of them have the same interest or skills in math. For some, studying math is pleasant, while for others it is challenging. To some, formulas, rules, and theorems are intriguing while others find them to be confusing. Therefore, the Singaporean curriculum stems from different starting points and offers different options for supporting each student with the objective of maximizing their potential.
Additionally, they are highly aware of the need to create a curriculum that is adapted to digital natives, in which the use of new technologies is very present.
Education in Singapore guarantees that all students achieve a proficiency level in math that can help them throughout their lives; and for those that have the highest abilities or interest, it guarantees they will reach the maximum level possible. Math is a very important subject in Singapore’s national curriculum. Students begin to learn math from the day that they start their formal education and continue on through the end of secondary education at minimum (for at least 10 years).
Singapore’s Attention Toward International Tests TIMSS and PISA
The objective of the last curriculum review was to update it, so it can continue satisfying students’ needs, constructing a solid base in math, and improving math education in schools. In order to carry out this review, the analysis of students’ performance on national exams was taken into account, as well as the international studies derived from TIMSS and PISA. Of course, it is also consistent with the general objectives of Singapore’s global curriculum: search for the ideal balance between content and skills, create opportunities to develop twenty-first century competencies, foster self-directed and collaborative learning through lessons based on ICT, and develop evaluations to support learning.
A Curriculum Centered Around Skills and Competencies
This last review, instead of focusing on the content of the curriculum, was centered around the skills and competencies that students must acquire: the process of learning becomes more important than what must be taught and remembered. Therefore, in the Singaporean curriculum we find information that is not only about what must be taught, but also about the manner in which teachers teach and students learn. In the curriculum we will find descriptions of experiences and learning results, which provides valuable guidance to teachers.
Implementation of the Singapore Curriculum Review
Another major action to highlight is the manner in which Singaporeans introduce the curriculum review: by implementing it year by year starting with the first year of primary school.
- Mathematics Syllabus: Primary One to Five. Ministry of Education, Singapore
- Smartick lands in Singapore, a country with one of the most challenging education systems in the world
- Foundations of the Singapore Method in Math Instruction