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Singapore needs to re-evaluate teaching, testing in schools to allow greater self-learning and discovery: Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE — How students are taught and tested in school will need to be re-evaluated, so that both students and their teachers will have sufficient space for self-learning and discovery.

Singapore needs to re-evaluate teaching, testing in schools to allow greater self-learning and discovery: Chan Chun Sing

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that students in Singapore need diverse perspectives and experiences so that they can “understand the dynamics and realities of the world”.

  • Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said Singapore needs a culture that encourages students to discover strengths beyond what is tested in school
  • Diverse perspectives and experiences can help students “understand the dynamics and realities of the world”, he added 
  • One way to achieve this is to allow teachers to take sabbaticals or a stint in the private, public or people sector
  • This is so they can bring fresh perspectives back to students

 

SINGAPORE — How students are taught and tested in school will need to be re-evaluated, so that both students and their teachers will have sufficient space for self-learning and discovery.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, who said this on Monday (Aug 16), adding that teaching and testing more “does not necessarily equate to learning more”. 

“What matters is not how much our students know, but how fast they learn, how able they are to adapt to an ever-changing environment.”

Mr Chan, who is also the Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, was speaking at the Social-Economic Nexus Speaking Engagement Forum, which was organised by the Public Service Division and the Civil Service College Singapore and attended by more than 1,500 public officers.

He also said that to keep students adaptable, Singapore needs a culture that encourages students to discover and develop their strengths beyond what is tested in school.

What the students need are diverse perspectives and experiences so that they can “understand the dynamics and realities of the world”, he added.  

One way of exposing them to diverse views and experience is through their teachers.  

Therefore, educators need to be given more “white space” or more room to engage in their own learning.

“We should also explore giving them more exposure beyond school — by supporting them in taking sabbaticals or short stints in the private, public or people sector to refresh their perspectives and renew their skill sets,” he said. 

“When our teachers are enriched and refreshed, our students will also benefit.”

Mr Chan, who also spoke broadly about Singapore’s economy during his 40-minute speech and later elaborated during a dialogue that stints in the private sector, for example, will give teachers a fresh perspective of how industries look at certain issues.

This will then allow them to speak to their students about such topics with authority. 

Beyond that, they will also have made connections within these industries that can “expose their students to a greater diversity of yardsticks for success”.

Another way of exposing students to different perspectives is through collaboration with other students from around the world.

While Covid-19 has disrupted travel, Mr Chan said that the Ministry of Education is trying to find ways to “re-establish and strengthen our students’ exposure to the world” so that they will not lose that opportunity.

DIVERSITY OF PATHWAYS

Aside from the need to have a diversity of perspectives and experiences, Mr Chan said that Singapore’s education system must also continue to provide a diversity of schools, education pathways and skill sets for students.

There are some students, for example, who prefer or are more suited to an applied education pathway. 

Currently, about 70 per cent of pupils in a Primary 1 cohort progress to either a polytechnic or an Institute of Technical Education.

“We must continue to ensure that their education and training provide a good foundation for them to remain competitive in the job market,” he said.

To that end, the Government is reviewing how to help these graduates obtain the relevant skills needed by employers.

Mr Chan also said that “in a world driven by new technologies and science”, there will be a need to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) learning in schools.

The goal is to nurture a lifelong interest in Stem and its applications, so that more students can join the science and technology sector. 

Beyond knowledge, there will also be a need to “nurture soft skills that endure”, such as curiosity and confidence, because this will enable students to appreciate diversity, innovate and not shrink away from the unknown, he added.

“Above all, our students must be equipped with a sense of purpose for the wider community.” 

TAKING CARE OF THE DISADVANTAGED

Mr Chan said a group that is of “utmost importance” are students from disadvantaged and vulnerable backgrounds who have felt most acutely the disruptive effects of technological developments and globalisation, accentuated by Covid-19.

“In such times, education must remain an uplifting force and beacon of hope for them,” he said.

While details will be given in the coming months, Mr Chan said that the Government will roll out plans to help underprivileged students and their families and support them across various life stages beyond school, including before birth.

In the meantime, existing initiatives such as the Uplift Community Pilot, which helps low-income students attend school more regularly, will also be strengthened.

Beyond the foundational schooling years, the Government will partner with institutes of higher learning and the community to help disadvantaged students in areas such as career guidance and mentoring, he added.

Related topics

Chan Chun Sing MOE schools teachers education

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