Following the announcement of the extended Circuit Breaker period earlier this afternoon, there has been much uncertainty surrounding subject matter of public school holidays, and how that will play out in the face of an extended Circuit Breaker. Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung has broken the silence with regards to doubts.
June holidays to be brought forward
In an official statement on Facebook, Ong Ye Kung has debunked rumours that Home-Based Learning (HBL) will be further extended as well. Instead of extending HBL and using it as a “prolonged substitute for school”, the yearly June Holidays will be brought forward, starting from 5 May 2020.
Acknowledging the hard work poured in by teachers, students, and parents alike, Ong has also stated that the challenge of HBL hasn’t been easy. In a test of the system, HBL has proved itself to be trying and demanding on all parties involved.
Stating that it is “better to let everyone have a break from this intense period,” Ong explained that the updated June Holiday period will then cover the entire extended circuit breaker until 1 June 2020.
By 1 June 2020, Ong hopes that the situation will be much better and that everyone can look forward to a safe and orderly opening of schools.
Revision of Term 3 structure
This means, however, that Term 3 will be longer than usual. As such, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will factor in an additional one week, mid-term break from 20-26 July. Term 3 will comprise 7 weeks, one week break and then 6 weeks. Most teachers will use the break to review or re-plan their lessons.
Reduction of curriculum teaching time
“As it is, the pace of HBL tends to be slower than classroom teaching”, Ong commented. The MOE will therefore also make certain topics commonly taught by all schools at the end of the academic year be non-examinable. Some of these topics are pie charts and volume for PSLE Maths, Organic chemistry and vectors for O level Chemistry and Maths respectively.
This will help reduce the curriculum load and ease the pressure off teachers and students in catching up with the curriculum. These topics will still be taught, but they will not appear as questions in the national examinations.
Two more concerns
Support for graduating cohorts
The graduating cohorts need support in preparing for their national exams. For this coming mid-year holidays, schools will have them come back to school for face-to-face consultation and coaching when the national situation improves.
Support for children of essential workers & vulnerable students
A group of heavily-affected students—children of essential workers, and vulnerable students—have not been forgotten. They have been coming back to school during the circuit breaker period and will continue to be welcome in schools throughout the mid-year holidays, to support them and their families.
With these new measures in place, I trust that all students (and teachers) will be grateful for this arrangement and that they will understand the demands of unprecedented times. As for the teachers who work tirelessly to provide support for the select group of students, still going to school despite the situation, I genuinely hope that they will nonetheless be able to receive the break that they so desperately need.
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