Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Education Forum : Educating the Next Generation

Education Forum : Educating the Next Generation

I attended this closed door forum held on 21st February 2009. Minister Ng Eng Hen was in a good mood. There were lots of questions and he answered each and every one of them. After the forum, he stayed for tea and chatted with the participants.

I hear the personal views of the Education Minister himself. I was given insights of certain policies. I have a better understanding of our education system. The Education Minister gets feedback from the ground.

Singapore has no natural resources. How we educate our young today will be the future of Singapore. Brain power is the only asset of that. Do we have the brains?

Everyone wants a good education. Any government in the world is willing to spend on education. Every new political candidate wants to do something for education but never quite gets to doing it.

Despite what the government is willing to spend, sometimes it does not match what they wanted to achieve. Singapore spends about 3.5% GDP on education. S$8.9 billion was spent on Education. What have we achieved?

Some countries spend 5-6% of GDP. But spending more doesn’t mean it’s a better education system.

The Singapore education system is well regarded internationally. Those who studied our education system have complimented it. It is quite good compared to many countries. Our students who have gone overseas are doing very well. The Singapore system is rigorous and it prepares the students well so that they perform better when they go into the new system.

Our education system meets the needs of a competitive economy but there are social consequences. Certain core values are sacrificed, there is a lesser sense of home and Singaporean-ness.

Minister Ng Eng Hen on Streaming :

Streaming must lead to better outcomes and be matched with adequate resources to help stretch each child to his maximum. It must not erode self-confidence or the belief that they cannot go further. We must reduce stigmas and labels.

This is why MOE has refined this policy to subject-based banding, as an example in Primary school. We also created many opportunities for late bloomers to move across to more advanced levels.

Life teaches us that there are many variables beyond academic ability which determines who succeeds. Our education system should not say or teach otherwise.

Looks good on paper but this is not carried out by some educators in our schools. They want to look good in their assessment reports. They want promotions and better pay. Self-confidence is the last thing they want to give the students.

At the heart of the success of a good education system, there must be passionate, competent and caring teachers. Singapore invests heavily in teacher training. Teachers are given opportunities to upgrade themselves over time. MOE provides loans and grants to support them.

But have MOE attracted the type of teachers they require?

I still see incompetent and uncaring educators in our schools. MOE is still keeping them. Why? Because there are not enough candidates?

Teachers cannot take over the parenting role but it has to be partnership. If there is resources, it’s better to put them on teachers than parents. It might not be easy to educate parents but it's more effective to educate teachers.

We also need competent school leaders to develop each student under their care.
If MOE reduces testing, our standards will drop. Testing will not only show standards of students but which teachers or schools are not doing well. Perhaps we can reduce the dependence of testing which MOE is trying to test for Pr 1 and 2.

Beyond grades : values

For a small country, it is important for us to maintain our survival and continued prosperity, both as a nation and individually. Our education system needs to impart values and not just grades to students.

Children don’t learn from what you say, they learn from what they see.

We have a more questioning younger population. Our education system needs to evolve in response to the changing needs of our nation as well as the external environment.

How do we nurture each child to believe in himself and be self-sufficient, to care for his fellow men, and to be able to contribute to the larger society around him?


Back2Nature said...

I like the first sentence in "Testing will not only show standards of students but which teachers or schools are not doing well. Perhaps we can reduce the dependence of testing which MOE is trying to test for Pr 1 and 2."

That's why I think teachers should be more stressed than students in their results (http://back2nature.blogspot.com/2006/07/tests-and-exercises.html).

However, reducing dependence of testing is not about reducing number of tests. It should be about changes that involves more people better understand the insights of education policies, and tackle the problems and factors that cause the phenomenon of "Looks good on paper but this is not carried out by the educators in our schools."

EastCoastLife said...

Minister mentioned schools have to be accountable for what they do. Thus every school undertakes regular self-evaluation, with external reviews by MOE. Students or schools that have difficulty reaching set standards are given additional support to improve.

Yes, teachers are getting more stressed. If they are doing their job, and their principal gives them a fair assessment, they should not be too stressed.

I have friends who teach in schools and they have HODs and prinicpals who practise favouritism, so we have cases of unfair assessment of teachers too. And there is no way they can be heard. Sad.

I agree more people need a better understanding of our education policies. There has been misinterpretation.

What I heard from the Minister and what is practised in my son's school and several schools were two entirely different things.

A forum like this to engage the stakeholders about education in Singapore and providing an insight into its policies is useful.

There was active participation from those present. The Minister listened patiently, his replies were clear and concise.

No MOE officers were present so it was a friendly chit-chat session.

Anonymous said...

I am more concern of MOE's dealing with the rogues in private education sector under him.

Hopefully, he proves to be different.

EastCoastLife said...

We need to exchange/share notes.

Some of those people were former MOE staff.

I believe the death threat for me come from them.

Anonymous said...


Luckily I return for a peep or I'd miss you reply. LOL~

I don't have notes to share. LOL~ Actually, dear, even if I do have, we can't share in the open. LOL~

There are many things beyond what most can understand online or within the government. Which is why I suggest that if you must blog, just be general, try to be funny... and be discreet in certain things. ^.^

MOE... It's a... pretty sensitive ministry. With regards to the death threats... I suggest you take them easy. Let me be frank with you. Those people love their skins too much to kill prominent blogger who is in touch with the PMO. These kind of threat is only possible unless that fella is crazy.

If you want to get back at the person/s... Actually, I doubt that'd be a wise move in this case because you alone can only complain without real power. See? And if there are a traced linked to a gang... and to some sensitive people, what do you expect? LOL~

You must consider carefully of what come first and the real need to do anything. Is it really your job to do anything at all?

You know why I know somebody impersonates me? Because when I checked out ERC, I used a pretty unique callsign. I don't trust in believe. LOL~ That's not how things work. So when I see that callsign being used, I know it's linked to who. LOL~

Certain things are not as what they appear so... *.^

This ministry... is long due for a... well, remake.

Good people, bad people, in the end, it only boils to what is important to you.

Hope this helps.


Sebastian said...

Hey Eastcoastlife, what has happened? Why aren´t you stirring in the pot? Have the critics (or cowards) finally managed to silence you or is there nothing left to criticize about in lovely Singapore?

Surely there must be something on your mind to blog about.