Singapore ranked seventh out of 100 participating countries at an annual mathematics competition for high school students held in Argentina in July.
In the same month, the Singapore team clinched third position in a field of 28 countries at the International Young Physicists’ Tournament in Germany.
Despite the effusive praise from Rogers, not all expatriates are convinced of the Singapore way.
There is also a growing clamor from Singaporean parents to reform the education system toward greater creativity, with less emphasis on rote learning and exam marks.
US-born expatriate Rachel Kraut, 49, moved her four children from public schools to the German school in Singapore after several unpleasant encounters.
“The main problem was many of the teachers’ attitudes, and their teaching methods are fear-based,” said Kraut, an associate professor at Nanyang Technological University’s School of Biological Sciences, who is married to a German.
She said her children worried about exams when on holiday and feared making mistakes because some teachers would humiliate students in class. Kraut said she was shocked when one of her daughters told her that she saw a boy being caned in class in fourth grade.
“The idea was not to make learning fun and interesting, it was: ‘If you don’t do this, your future is ruined,’” Kraut said.