The 3 Cs that will determine S’pore’s continued success in an uncertain world


Continual learning; connections and collaboration for value creation; and confidence building are the three Cs that will determine Singapore’s continued success amidst a fast moving and increasingly fragmented world, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.

And Singapore’s universities, as one part of the wider education system, can help Singaporeans achieve the three Cs. He was speaking about the evolving roles of universities at The Straits Times Education Forum on Feb 10.

Continual Learning – Learning for Life; Learning Through Life

As the pace of acquiring skills and knowledge must keep up with the pace of technology and evolving job demands, the local education system must evolve.

“If we need to top up the knowledge and skills of our people as they take on new jobs every four to five years, that means upgrading 20 to 25% of our roughly 3 million local workforce each year: or about half a million adult workers every year!” he said.

The definition of the local education system is therefore not just about producing a cohort of 30,000 to 40,000 students each year for the job market but to do all that plus retraining and upgrading about 500,000 adult learners each year, he said.

To achieve this goal, he outlined four ways the education system must change.

  1. Jettison the concept that we can ever be done with learning
  2. Relook how we view success as there’s no pre-defined pathway to success
  3. Combine relevant skills and knowledge to create new value propositions for the evolving market
  4. Shorten the time-to-market for skills and knowledge 

Connections and Collaboration for Value Creation

The Institutes of higher learning – or continuous learning – should not just transmit knowledge but also connect students with the world, industry and community, he said.

“In a world that is becoming more fast-paced, more divided, and yet more interconnected, we will need a strong network of connections to keep us current, keep us together, and keep us open.”

To connect with the world, he encouraged universities to continue with exchange and internship programmes, even as the pandemic wears on.

Connecting with the industry, for instance, will allow faculty to have the necessary expertise to ensure that our students are ready for the future.

Confidence in Ourselves and Our Contributions

Although Singaporeans are often admired for our values and competencies on the international stage, many have also commented that we can better help our students express themselves so that their talents are better appreciated, said Minister Chan.

“In a world of contesting ideas, ideology, and values, we must have the confidence to chart our own destiny based on a pragmatic and disciplined search for what works best for our people in context, rather than be prisoners of ideology; and define our way of life based on our own set of values.”

While we can learn from the world, we must have the confidence to develop our own solutions to our own unique challenges, while understanding that we can never stop learning and improving.

“Our universities have a responsibility to nurture such values in our people – young and old.”

You can read his full speech here.

Cover photo credit: Chan Chun Sing Facebook page