The Integrated Programme (IP), an unconventional and radical approach to post-primary education, was first proposed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) in 2004. The keystone of this programme is to provide opportunities to the top ranking students to develop their intellectual capabilities to the maximum possible extent.
Singapore’s system of compulsory education consists of six years of primary school following which students take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) to enter secondary school. After four years of secondary school, which is also compulsory, students take the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (O-level). Students attend two years of post-secondary education following which they take the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (A-level) to get into a university. In an Integrated Programme, a student will attend six years of post-primary education and attempt the A-levels to enter university. The O levels are skipped in this educational approach.
Owing to the absence of the O-levels, students who enrol in the Integrated Programme have much more time available, which they can use to learn a variety of useful skills. Only those students who rank in the top 10% of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) are allowed to choose this programme. Given the brilliance of this approach to education, it is crucial to evaluate the benefits as well as the pitfalls in this programme.
The positive aspects of this educational strategy are obvious. A substantial amount of time is spent by secondary students in Singapore preparing for their O-levels. Integrated Programme students have close to 20% more time available as they skip the O-levels. During this extra period of time, academically gifted students can learn not only a variety of useful life skills but also a significant number of innovative methods optimising their talents. After seeing the benefits of the Integrated Programme, the possible flaws should be identified and strategies should be devised to prevent the potential damage caused by these flaws.
The most important risk in the Integrated Programme is that the student misses out on the structure of the O levels that builds a strong academic foundation. As Integrated Programme students take their A-levels without taking their O-levels, a significant amount of self-discipline is required to develop a strong academic foundation. It is crucial for parents to take a decision whether their child has a learning style that is suited to the Integrated Programme. For students struggling to cope with the Integrated Programme, it is necessary to consider extra tuition as an option. There are a variety of tuition centres offering IP English tuition, IP maths tuition and IP science tuition