An international study released in August 2017 suggests that Singapore students, known worldwide for their academic excellence also experience high levels of anxiety.
The findings emerged in a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which conducts triennial tests called the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa). The study polled 540,000 students from 72 countries and economies to look at the connection between well-being and achievement in the Pisa tests.
The 5,825 Singapore students polled were asked to respond to statements such as: “I often worry that it will be difficult for me to take a test”; “I worry I will get poor grades at school”; “I feel very anxious even if I am well prepared for a test”; “I get very tense when I study for a test”; and “I get nervous when I do not know how to solve a task at school”.
It emerged that their anxiety levels were significantly higher than the OECD average for all five questions. For example, 66 percent of students across all OECD countries said they were worried about poor grades at school, but among Singapore students, it was 86 percent.
When asked to comment on these findings, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said the 15-year-olds in Singapore who were surveyed comprised largely of Secondary 4 students preparing for their N- and O-level examinations. “Hence… it is understandable that our students are likely to be more anxious about doing well,” said the MOE, noting that in the same survey, more than eight in 10 of Singapore’s 15-year-olds also said they enjoyed learning science. “So, we recognise that while our students are anxious about doing well in examinations, their enjoyment in learning science has not been dampened.”
If you’re looking for help, take a page from these schools’ supportive tactics.
We teach students about the importance of resilience, gratitude and to develop a growth mindset. These are tools that will support them as they travel through the ups and downs of life. Of course, when things do go wrong, we have a wonderful network of teachers and counsellors charged with supporting our students through the challenges that they may confront. – Andre Casson, Head of School, Australian International School
“At ISS International School, student well-being is a primary focus. We are one of very few international schools in Singapore with a range of counsellors that reflect the diversity of our student body. Japanese-, Korean- and Chinese-speaking counsellors support students and their families throughout their years at ISS. Our counsellors ensure that the stress of living overseas or changing schools does not stop our students from reaching their full potential.” – Dr. Margaret Alvarez, Head of School, ISS International School
“Each class has two Class Mentors, who students can approach when they face issues. Teachers also conduct Supplementary Learning Programme (SLP) sessions for students to provide support to better prepare students for test conditions and alleviate test anxiety. Where required, SIM IA works with both in-house and external pastoral counsellors, who are able to help students learn to cope with such matters.”
– Suriyani Rahamat, Assistant Principal (Academics), SIM International Academy
By Hazel Vincent De Paul, The Finder Kids Vol. 22
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