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Greater focus on Asean in the curriculum at secondary, tertiary levels

SINGAPORE — Students can expect to learn more about the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region in school as the Ministry of Education (MOE) seeks to bolster students’ understanding of Asia.

Greater focus on Asean in the curriculum at secondary, tertiary levels

The Ministry of Education announced that it will be enhancing the content and coverage of Asean countries in the humanities subjects at the secondary school and pre-university levels.

SINGAPORE — Students can expect to learn more about the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region in school as the Ministry of Education (MOE) seeks to bolster students’ understanding of Asia.

The move was announced by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung during the Committee of Supply debate on the ministry’s budget on Wednesday (March 4).

Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, said Mr Ong, and Singapore-based enterprises need to be able to venture outside of the region to succeed.

That is why in the next three years, MOE will be enhancing the content and coverage of Asean countries in the humanities subjects at the secondary school and pre-university level to help students better understand Singapore’s relationship with Asean in areas such as economics and geopolitics. 

This will include cohort-wide subjects such as social studies as well as elective subjects such as geography and history. 

The curriculum enhancements will be rolled out as follows:

2021:

  • Lower secondary level geography, history and social studies

2022: 

  • Upper secondary level geography, history and social studies

  • Pre-university economics

2023:

  • Pre-university history and geography

Separately, primary to pre-university students will be given more opportunities for conversational language learning that will come hand-in-hand with trips to Asean countries.

This includes a 10-hour component where students will be given the opportunity to learn about the culture and the language of the country as part of the pre-trip preparations. The programme will first start off with Thai and Vietnamese languages.

For students enrolled in institutes of higher learning, the universities and polytechnics will be increasing the opportunities available to students to gain overseas exposure, particularly to China, India or Asean.

Though overseas trips have taken a backseat due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the crisis will blow over in time, Mr Ong said.

In time to come, 70 per cent of students here enrolled in institutes of higher learning will take part in overseas exposure programmes and 70 per cent of these students will have exposure to the selected destinations in Asia.

The “70-70” target was first mentioned by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget statement last month, where he said that the programmes will seek to enable Singapore students to acquire cross-cultural skills and understand the region better.

This can come in the form of academic exchange programmes, overseas immersion programmes, internship placements and service learning trips.

Currently, about one in two university and polytechnic students take part in overseas exposure programmes and more than 50 per cent of these programmes are to India, China and Asean, MOE said.

It declined to give a breakdown by institution of the number of students who take part in these programmes and how many programmes involving trips to India, China and Asean are offered by each institution. 

Mr Ong said: “We will organise more trips to Asian countries, and encourage students to participate in them. Students from the West are flocking here to experience Asia, because it is a culturally rich and exciting region. 

“Our students should do so, too. This is our own backyard and here we have a natural competitive edge.”

Related topics

ASEAN MOE education curriculum geography history

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