Living in Malaysia, you can probably imagine how often we are compared to Singapore. We often compare ourselves to Singapore too. When it comes to education, I don't think we differ too much.
In Malaysia there's a heavy emphasis on credentials and exam results too. Even in tertiary education, we are often still asked for our SPM (the major exam from last year of high school) results.
There's a common belief in the country that the more A's you get the smarter you are, but I don't believe in this one bit. Firstly, because our exams focus more on memorisation rather than critical thinking or actually understanding the subject matter. Secondly, why are we teaching our youth that quantity matters more than quality? If someone is interested in arts or language, why should they be shamed for getting a B in biology or physics?
Unfortunately as well, Malaysia has this mentality that "smart" people are those who take up medicine, engineering, or accounting as career paths, but those who do music, language, or arts are "not so smart". It's a terrible mentality to have and I strongly oppose it.
This happens because even as early on as high school, we are made to believe that "smart" students study science while "not so smart" students study arts. The top students are streamed into science classes while those with poorer results go into the lower classes to learn arts. It's hugely disrespectful to the arts, and very presumptuous that a student who studies arts only does so because they aren't "smart" enough. What if a student is genuinely interested in the arts?
There's a lot wrong with Malaysia's education system, but I'm not hopeful that it will improve any time soon. If at all.