Ministry of Education (MOE) must take a life course approach to education, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing in his Committee of Supply speech on Mar 7.
“‘MOE for schools’, must become ‘MOE for life’,” he reiterated.
With forces such as shorter business cycles, an increasingly fragmented world and a changing social fabric, MOE’s vision for Singapore’s education system is to develop confident Singaporeans; build a competitive Singapore; and forge a cohesive society, he said in his speech.
A life course approach to education is therefore needed to realise the vision.
Developing Confident Singaporeans
Developing confident Singaporeans starts from school, where students start to understand their own strengths and interests, said Minister Chan.
For instance, the move to remove mid-year exams for all levels allow teachers to better pace and deepen students’ learning. Rather than using a mid-year exam, schools use ongoing assessments to identify what students have mastered and what they have difficulties in.
“Students also focus more on their learning and less on marks… This frees up more time across all levels for self-directed learning and developing 21st Century Competencies,” he said.
MOE is also reviewing curriculum content and assessment demand as one standard curriculum will necessarily not be able to meet the diverse learning needs and capabilities of students.
“Any ‘average curriculum’ will necessarily mean that many students will be overstretched while others are under-stretched. Hence, we must have a range of options to cater to our students’ diverse abilities and needs,” he explained.
Instead, teachers must have the ability to pick and choose “from a menu of options” to suit the needs of students.
Full Subject-Based Banding will also replace streaming into Express and Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical) streams. MOE will remove streaming totally from 2024 onwards, he added.
Building a competitive Singapore
The speed of evolution and superior connectivity will make Singapore competitive.
And how fast the evolution speed goes depends on Singaporeans’ ability to quickly learn, unlearn and relearn, he said.
To do that, working adults will be given avenues to participate in lifelong learning.
With more job opportunities for degree holders, MOE will also study increasing the “lifetime cohort participation rate”, he added. This means more opportunities for working adults to pursue a degree at a suitable point in their life.
A new SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme (SCTP) will be also be introduced to be a permanent feature that supports the career transition needs of Singaporeans with industry-relevant training involving potential employers and employment facilitation into sectors with good job prospects.
Furthermore, MOE, MTI, MOM and MOF are studying how to enhance structural support for Singaporeans in their 40s and 50s who may need significant reskilling to provide a second wind in their careers, said Minister Chan.
Institutes for higher learning (IHLs) must also become institutes for continual learning and he urged IHLs to review their programmes as adult learners’ needs, commitments, and prior experiences differ from younger learners.
Forging a cohesive society
Singapore’s diversity unites, rather than divides and has been a hallmark of the nation.
Minister Chan then went on to say that Singapore must continue to preserve education as an uplifting force for all Singaporeans, reflecting the ethos of the Party.
He added that no student should be held back from their dreams and aspirations because of his or her circumstances and that MOE will continue with with UPLIFT (Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce) in schools, ITE, and the polytechnics, to support students with Special Educational Needs, and to support the mental well-being of students.
“This is our social compact. To invest in our people, enable every Singaporean to develop to their fullest potential regardless of their starting point, and partake in the fruits of the country’s growth, so that we can strive towards a fairer and more inclusive society,” he said.