In Singapore, education is no longer a matter of sending our children to school but about their right to learn.
For instance, how can we make learning more holistic? What kind of support can we provide to ensure learning is meaningful for the future?
As the Committee of Supply debate rages on, our MPs shared several ideas on reinventing education in Singapore to make it more inclusive, diverse and relevant on Feb 28, 2023.
Mariam Jaafar: Expanding the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP)
Since its inception, the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) has been a success.
It has taken away stress, opened doors and given students the flexibility to choose a pathway based on their aptitudes and interests, shared Ms Mariam Jaafar (Sembawang GRC).
Furthermore, it prepares students for the different learning styles and discipline required to succeed in polytechnics, added Ms Mariam.
Therefore, Ms Mariam asked whether the ministry consider expanding the PFP scheme to allow more students to benefit.
Now, for a program that has generated so much positive impact, we definitely hope so.
Carrie Tan: Promoting outdoor and nature-based learning
There are innumerable benefits to outdoor-based learning, shared Ms Carrie Tan (Nee Soon GRC) as she urged the ministry to make outdoor education the main approach in early and primary education.
According to Ms Tan, outdoor-based learning can help children in their physical and mental well-being and help them to develop higher intuitive intelligence.
Many parents and children alike probably have had enough of home-based learning in the past two years, and an outdoor-based curriculum is indeed refreshing.
Of course, there are also economic realities underlying this suggestion.
As Ms Tan said: “We cannot be playing catch up in preparing our young for future jobs in the green economy. We must equip our young to be nature natives, not just digital natives.”
Denise Phua: Providing more support to SEN students
Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) has always been the voice for children with special education needs (SEN).
This time, she called for additional support for SEN students studying in mainstream schools who might need more help with life skills.
Ideally, she said, there should be an assessment framework to regularly evaluate if the current approach is providing SEN students with the support they need.
In addition, she also advocated that formal education in SPED schools be extended from 18 to 21 years old for all students, not just those working towards a vocational certification.
“SPED students need a longer learning runway to build vocational and other life skills for survival, especially in this rapidly fast-paced world.
“I urge MOE to continue their progress to meet the lifelong learning needs of the SEN community so they will thrive and not be left behind.”
Wan Rizal: Developing a flexible curriculum
With the job landscape evolving rapidly, Dr Wan Rizal (Jalan Besar GRC) believes schools should help students develop more skills.
To achieve that, he suggested that ITEs and polytechnics can consider more flexibility within their curriculum so that students may pursue elective modules outside their area of specialisation.
All universities require their students to take interdisciplinary modules to expand their horizons, so why not extend the same approach to students in Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs)?
“It may increase their employment opportunities and allow them to remain agile in a dynamic job space.
“But my greatest hope is that it will address the increasing income disparity between graduates and non-graduates,” he said.
Lim Biow Chuan: Reducing curriculum content
With so much information readily available on the internet and the rise of ChatGPT, Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten SMC) feels that there is less of a need for students to acquire a copious amount of knowledge.
Instead, he called for a reduction to the school curriculum so that students have more time to develop their interests during their formative years and cultivate a growth mindset.
Students ought to enjoy learning to acquire knowledge rather than do so to pass exams or gain good grades, said Mr Lim.
Hopefully, encouraging a culture of intrinsic learning can turn life-long learning into a new national pastime and habit.
Photo Sources: MCI via YouTube/Nanyang Poly/MOE/ITE