Singapore’s Educational Triumph: PISA 2022 Highlights Resilience and Excellence Amidst Pandemic Challenges”

The recent release of the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results affirms Singapore’s educational prowess, showcasing the resilience and excellence of its education system even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Singapore’s 15-year-old students demonstrated remarkable abilities in applying critical thinking and reasoning to solve real-world problems, securing the top position in Reading, Mathematics, and Science among the 81 participating systems (refer to Table A1 in Annex A for detailed mean scores).

These results, coupled with earlier findings from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2021, underscore the robustness of Singapore’s education system. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the consistent improvement in reading literacy among Primary 4 students reflects the dedicated efforts of schools and teachers in ensuring students’ learning and well-being.

Maintaining a trend of exceptional performance across PISA cycles, a representative sample of 6,606 15-year-old students from 149 secondary schools and 15 private schools participated in the study from April to May 2022. Compared to PISA 2018, students maintained their performance in Mathematics, substantially improved in Science, and experienced a slight decline in Reading, aligning with global shifts in reading habits.

Singapore boasted the highest proportions of top performers, achieving proficiency levels 5 or 6, in Reading (23%), Mathematics (41%), and Science (24%), surpassing all participating education systems. Furthermore, Singapore’s academic all-rounders, students excelling in all three domains, comprised 15% of the cohort, the highest among participating systems.

Importantly, even amidst the challenges, students from lower socio-economic status (SES) homes showcased strong performance. In PISA 2022, these students outperformed their similar-SES peers in the OECD and exceeded the OECD average across all three domains. Additionally, 43% of these students demonstrated “core-skills resilience,” the second-highest proportion among participating systems, emphasizing the commitment to supporting students from lower-SES backgrounds through initiatives like UPLIFT.

The PISA 2022 results shed light on Singaporean students’ proficiency in applying critical thinking and reasoning skills to non-routine scenarios. Notably, these skills, including mathematical reasoning, differentiating between relevant and irrelevant information, and employing computational thinking, prepare students for the challenges posed by global changes such as digitalization and emerging technologies.

Despite disruptions caused by the pandemic, Singaporean students reported strong teacher support across all socio-economic groups. The majority felt they belonged at school, and their teachers were dedicated to their well-being, providing extra help when needed. This underscores the commitment of educators to fostering positive relationships with students, essential for a supportive learning environment.

However, the PISA 2022 findings highlighted areas for improvement, indicating a need for stronger ties at home and increased physical activity. Singaporean students perceived their families as less supportive compared to OECD countries. Initiatives to enhance parental involvement, including discussions about school-related matters, will be a focus for the Ministry of Education (MOE) and schools. Additionally, efforts to encourage physical activity, both in and out of school, will continue to be a priority.

In conclusion, the Director-General of Education, Ms Liew Wei Li, emphasized that Singapore’s consistent success in PISA cycles and the demonstrated ability of students to think critically affirm the Ministry of Education’s shift towards preparing students for life beyond school. Acknowledging the unwavering dedication of schools, teachers, and strong partnerships with parents, the focus remains on holistic development and helping students reach their full potential. As Singapore navigates the evolving landscape of education, the commitment to excellence and resilience remains paramount.

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