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Arkansas Governor Signs Measure Expanding Computer Science Classes - Education Week

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday signed into law a measure requiring all public high schools to offer computer science courses, handing the first pen he used to the 12-year-old granddaughter he says inspired the initiative.

Release of 2014 Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE A-Level) Examination Results on 2 March 2015

Ministry Of Education Feed - 25 February 2015

The results of the 2014 Singapore-Cambridge GCE A-Level Examination will be released on Monday, 2 March 2015.

School candidates may collect their result slips from their respective schools from 2.00 pm on 2 March 2015.

Private candidates will be notified of their individual results by post. They will also be able to access their results online (using the password provided to them) via the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board website at http://www.seab.gov.sg from 2.00 pm on 2 March 2015.

Speech by Ms Sim Ann at the Certificate Presentation Ceremony for Young Sikh Association (Singapore)’s Project Khwaish XIV

Ministry Of Education Feed - 24 February 2015

I am delighted to join you this evening for the certificate presentation ceremony for the participants of Project Khwaish 14, the latest in the Khwaish series of annual community service expeditions, organised by the Young Sikh Association (Singapore).

I understand that 15 young Singaporeans spent the better part of your December holidays last year in Mehma village in Punjab, in service of the local community.

During the expedition, your team converted two bare rooms into libraries for the village primary and secondary school, installed bookshelves, and shelved and catalogued the 2,000 books you had spent months collecting while in Singapore. You also put in place key processes like a library card system for students to borrow books and trained the teachers on the system.

Along with village craftsmen, you worked on the school compound. I was told you cleaned, refurbished and painted the compound, and with the help of local contractors, evened out the assembly ground. Further, with help, you built a walkway for rainy seasons by laying tiles on the ground so that the students and teachers would not have to worry about muddied shoes. The team also helped to lay underground pipes so as to prevent flooding and clogging of the sewage and water borne diseases. You also helped install two new gates, a signboard, fans and lights in the school.

Beyond looking after the physical needs of the school, you spent time bonding with the children and the local community, and distributed clothes to the needy. You were ambassadors of goodwill for Singapore.

And I am confident that even as you served others, you would also have benefited from the experience. You would have learnt about the different challenges faced by other communities, experienced living in an unfamiliar environment, and developed empathy, confidence, teamwork and leadership.

I note also that the team comprised a multicultural Singaporean team with seven Sikhs, six Indians, a Chinese and a Malay/Muslim. In addition, the team comprised students from different institutions. There is a National Serviceman, as well as working adults, and our youngest participant is 16 years old! I commend the efforts by YSA to enhance understanding and teamwork between groups of young people drawn from diverse backgrounds.

Conclusion

As you all know, this year marks a milestone for Singapore and Singaporeans. Our country turns 50! It is time for reflection on our journey as one people. And it is fitting that YSA will publish a book on the contributions of Sikhs in Singapore’s nation-building over the last 50 years, supported by MCCY and the SG50 Celebration Fund. This book will give the community and the nation an opportunity to recognise the contributions of an important group in our community. And I personally am looking forward to reading the book.

Once again, congratulations to the participants, your families and YSA on a successful trip, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Thank you.

Director-General of Education Retires After 36 Years of Service

Ministry Of Education Feed - 24 February 2015

Ms Ho Peng, 60, Director-General of Education (DGE), will be retiring from the Education Service on 31 March 2015. Ms Ho joined the Education Service in 1979. Starting as a teacher in National Junior College, she has contributed in various capacities both at MOE HQ and in school during her meritorious career spanning 36 years. Ms Ho was appointed as Director-General of Education in April 2009.

As DGE, Ms Ho has put in place many initiatives that have a lasting impact on education in Singapore. In 2009, she oversaw the launch of the 21st Century Competencies Framework which has underpinned our approach to holistic education to better prepare our students to thrive in a fast-changing and highly-connected world.

Ms Ho was instrumental in anchoring MOE’s focus on values and character development, as well as placing greater emphasis on Physical, Art and Music Education. This has enabled students to develop physical robustness, enhance their creative and expressive capacities, as well as shape their personal, cultural and social identity.

An advocate of bilingualism, Ms Ho was instrumental in securing the Stellar Programme to provide all primary school pupils a strong foundation in the English Language. She was also a champion of Mother Tongue Language (MTL) Education, and led the MTL Review Committee in 2010. Arising from the review, greater emphasis has been placed to help students enjoy learning their MTLs and become proficient in using them in a variety of real-life settings.

More recently, Ms Ho provided guidance in pre-school education, and oversaw the opening of pilot MOE Kindergartens in 2014. Under Ms Ho’s leadership, the Singapore national examinations and assessment system was strengthened, and the assessment literacy and competencies of our teachers deepened.

As a firm believer that teachers are at the heart of quality education, Ms Ho oversaw the establishment of the Academy of Singapore Teachers, five academies and centres which spearheaded professional development and pedagogical excellence in the areas of sports, arts, and the languages.

Acknowledging Ms Ho’s invaluable contributions, Permanent Secretary for Education Ms Chan Lai Fung shares: “Ms Ho Peng will be remembered for her commitment, sound professional judgement, action-orientation and people-centeredness. Under her strong leadership, she has led a quiet transformation of what and how we need to teach our children, to ready them for the future. The Ministry is deeply appreciative of Ms Ho’s dedication to the education service.”

Ms Ho will continue to contribute to MOE in the capacity of an advisor with effect from 1 April 2015.

Mr Wong Siew Hoong, 55, will succeed as Director-General of Education on 1 April 2015, and will concurrently hold his position of Deputy Director-General (Curriculum). Mr Wong joined the Education Service in 1984 as a teacher at Victoria Junior College. Since then, he has held a number of principal-ships and senior appointments in MOE HQ. Mr Wong was appointed as Director of Schools in 2004, and to his current appointment as Deputy Director-General of Education (Curriculum) at end 2011.

Reflecting on her 36 years of service, Ms Ho said: “I have been fortunate to have found my calling in education. This has led to a deeply fulfilling life. It has been a great honour and privilege to serve with dedicated and professional colleagues, both in schools and HQ. Our education system has come a long way in the last 50 years. I am proud of the people we have serving in the education system.”

Three U.S. Teachers Are Finalists for $1 Million Prize - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 24 February 2015
Nancie Atwell of Edgecomb, Maine; Naomi Volain of Springfield, Mass.; and Stephen Ritz of New York City join seven other educators from around the world as finalists.
Topic: Teachers

Merit Pay - Education Week

Education Week - Teachers - 24 February 2015
A report by the Center for American Progress outlines the differing features of 10 districts that have restructured their entire teacher-compensation systems.
Topic: Teachers

NCLB Waiver States Share in New SIG Flexibility - Education Week

School Improvement Grant rules out this month give more leeway on turnaround strategies to states with waivers, not just to SIG recipients.

Teachers' Unions Push Congress on NCLB Rewrite - Education Week

The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers step up lobbying efforts, targeting lawmakers in their districts.

Some States Put Parents in Charge of Student Spending - Education Week

Education savings accounts—which allow parents to use public funds to customize schooling for their children—are the newest frontier in school choice.

Lab Schools Search for New Roles - Education Week

Some have become training grounds for teachers or researchers, some share best practices, and many are now private schools.

States Fueling Recall of New Framework for AP History Course - Education Week

The debate over the new Advanced Placement U.S. History framework is rolling through the states.

Common Core Seen Falling Short in High School Math - Education Week

Even some of the most ardent supporters of the standards say they have weaknesses and should be revisited.

Rural Education - Education Week

Only about half the nation's rural school districts have students enrolled in college-level Advanced Placement courses, and those students have lower AP success rates than their nonrural peers, according to a report.

West Virginia Cuts Testing of Science, Social Studies - Education Week

The West Virginia board of education has approved a measure to eliminate testing in social studies and reduce examinations in science.

Rising Graduation Rates: Trend or Blip? - Education Week

The latest signs from the U.S. Department of Education point to another year of record-breaking graduation rates but experts differ on the reasons why.

As Common-Core Test Season Begins, Teachers Feel Pressure - Education Week

A combination of earlier testing times and interruptions in instruction due to snow days is putting pressure on teachers to cover as much content as they can to get students ready.

In Calif. District, Blended-Learning Approach Turns Teachers Into Facilitators - Education Week Teacher

Education Week - Technology - 18 February 2015
Some teachers say that blended-learning environments, designed to leverage technology and individualize student instruction, can create new roles for teachers as well.
Topic: Technology

Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah at the Building & Construction Authority (BCA) Built Environment Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Scholarship Award Ceremony

Ministry Of Education Feed - 17 February 2015

I am happy to be here this afternoon at the BCA Industry Built Environment ITE Scholarship Award Ceremony. I want to congratulate 122 ITE scholarship recipients who have worked hard to get to where you are. I am glad you have decided to take up exciting opportunities in the Built Environment sector. I wish you all the best in your studies, and look forward to your contributions in the coming future.

Skills for a Changing Future

To all of you who are on the threshold of embarking on your chosen career, the working world that you will be going to join soon will be vastly different from what it was a mere decade or two ago. Many of you know that our present and future is being vastly changed by new technology and global economic shifts, and we have to prepare ourselves to not only survive but thrive.

What can we do? Through the SkillsFuture movement, we are starting to work towards a future where everyone has the opportunity to build on their strengths, develop skills that enable them to maximise their potential, and contribute to society, regardless of their starting point. We all need to move beyond being just competent in our current jobs, towards mastering deep skills, especially the right skills to remain relevant and take on jobs of the future. Simply put, skills are the key to our future.

What are these skills? Broadly, skills mean more than just knowledge. What matters is not just what you know, but how you use what you know: applying it in different situations and conditions, and gaining valuable experience along the way. Skills are not just ‘hard’ skills, like technical or work know-how; not simply applying mathematics or understanding the principles of engineering and the sciences, which are often associated with the Built Environment sector. Skills also include ‘soft’ skills, such as attitude, leadership, communication skills, teamwork, ability to work across cultures, deal with people, solve problems, and achieve desired outcomes. These are all equally important, and are in high demand across all sectors, including the Built Environment sector. To thrive, you will find that learning over a lifetime, and making structured learning a part of your career, is crucial to mastering skills in the Built Environment and elsewhere.

A Transforming Built Environment Sector

Mention the Built Environment Sector, and images of construction sites come readily to mind. But the sector has moved far beyond brick and mortar. It encompasses buildings and places, and everything else that is found in between. Drawing on varied disciplines like design, construction, engineering, maintenance and project management, the sector is getting to be more knowledge-driven, skills-based and technologically-advanced. While they rely on their training to think, innovate and make-create, Built Environment professionals also need to constantly adapt to changing needs and norms, and they will have to learn, unlearn and relearn new knowledge and skills. Through their willingness to pick up and excel at new skills, we get to enjoy a truly modern built environment: high living standards, where we can live, work and play in a safe, sustainable, inclusive and high quality built environment.

What has changed? Did you know that Built Environment professionals are using technology to create and share information on the job through innovative new technologies? Information on what was required and what was satisfactory is crucial in ensuring that the finished project matches what was planned. Previously, pen-and-paper plans and drawings were in widespread use until they were replaced by two-dimensional computer aided design. Recently, many companies have adopted three-dimensional Building Information Modelling (BIM), and employees are picking up new BIM skills to keep pace with the changing work processes. The technology allows building professionals of various disciplines to design and explore the building project digitally through an integrated process, even before it is built. BIM facilitates coordination among building professionals, enabling stakeholders to have a clearer understanding of the project and it enhances their ability to make better informed decisions throughout the building’s lifecycle. The sharing of information along a project life-cycle and beyond can also help all parties resolve issues early, reduce work errors, and improve efficiency and productivity.

Good Career Prospects in the Built Environment Sector

With the current transformation of the Built Environment sector, there is now even greater demand for Built Environment professionals with the right technical knowledge and skills. Based on BCA’s bi-annual employment survey 2014, about half of the firms surveyed are planning to hire this year. Together, they will play a significant role in Singapore’s economy and national development, as construction activities are vital to our economic growth. Coupled with sustained developments locally and in regional markets, there are many bright career prospects. Jobs available in the sector run the gamut from professional, managerial and executive (PME) types, to technical and associate professional (TAP) types, to supervisory and foremen types. Besides training to be a BIM modeller or specialist, those wishing to enter the sector can also train to become an architect, energy consultant, engineer, surveyor, project manager, supervisor, to name a few.

Multiple pathways are available for students wishing to deepen their skills and progress in their career. High quality pre-employment training offered by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnics and universities provides a good head-start for those wishing to join the Built Environment sector. Upon graduation, the sector also provides Continuing Education and Training (CET) support for those planning to develop specialisations through workplace learning and industry-certified courses and specialist diplomas, all of which translate to industry recognition of competency and skills mastery.

I understand that BCA also has a comprehensive suite of apprenticeship, scholarship and sponsorship programmes which provides support for progression, both upwards and laterally, across the ITE, polytechnic and university levels. In fact, BCA has shared with me that the current ITE Scholarship scheme will be enhanced to provide greater skills deepening and progression opportunities in partnership with industry firms for ITE graduates joining the Built Environment workforce, which is aligned with the national SkillsFuture movement. Designed as a post-ITE development programme, the graduate recipients will undergo structured on-the-job training under mentorship with their sponsoring firms to build up their skills competencies. The programme would also comprise part-time industry-recognised training in areas such as BIM, design or construction supervision. Through the programme, graduates will acquire valuable work experience and take on greater roles at work, possibly progressing as CoreTrade Supervisors or BIM Specialists, coupled with higher remuneration and better job prospects.

These multiple pathways offer flexibility, where the upgrading could be taken either full-time or part-time, or in small modules over a period of time. Instead of pursuing further studies immediately after your junior college, polytechnic or ITE, you may find that working first and then pursuing further studies could be better. This brings to mind the story of 28-year-old Muhammad Roszaly, who has completed BCA’s apprenticeship programme and attained a trade diploma in electrical technology. After graduating from ITE with a Higher Nitec in mechanical engineering, Roszaly first worked as a Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) technician with a private company for two years, where he learnt through his mentor the maintenance of lifts and air-conditioning. Through the apprenticeship programme, he then joined his present company, China Jingye Construction Engineering (Singapore). He steadily deepened his skills at his workplace, developing site supervisory skills under the able mentorship of his M&E co-ordinator. Roszaly is now proficient in monitoring progress of works, carrying out inspections, checking for defects and managing site staff, contributing purposefully to the Built Environment industry.

Making an Informed Education and Career Choice

Like Muhammad Roszaly, I hope all of you will also stay open to exploring the available pathways, seize opportunities, and keep up with trends and in-demand skills sets for the Built Environment sector, as well as other sectors. Consider all options to make an informed choice. It also boils down to being aware of what interests you and what you think you do best. A career in the Built Environment sector may be right for those whose aptitude lies in being creative, problem-solving, and if you enjoy design, technology, rising to challenges, contributing to making the world a better place and are computer-savvy. It would be good too if you have a keen interest or are strong in mathematics, mechanics, computing, communication, design and management, because these subjects form the core of many Built Environment sector courses. The strong skills foundation that you acquire as you undergo training will put you in high demand from employers, in Singapore and potentially elsewhere also. Since the skills sets are transferrable across sectors and countries, there are far more options available for capable individuals to progress based on their mastery of skills and experience.

A Case of Towering Inspiration

So the challenge to you is to dream big! Currently, the tallest skyscraper and structure ever constructed in the real world is the 829.8-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Back home, the 290-metre tall Tanjong Pagar Centre will be the tallest building in Singapore when it is completed in 2016. If you have played with building blocks when you were young, you would know the sense of accomplishment when you were able to stack the blocks higher and higher without them falling down. You may have intuitively recognised that behind the successful completion of buildings like Burj Khalifa, the whole team of designers and builders must have relied on their deep expertise to overcome a multitude of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Today, Burj Khalifa, as well as local awe-inspiring feats like the Marina Coastal Expressway and Marina Bay Sands, stand as monuments to the creative and productive energies of the human race, inspiring us all as they physically break away from conventional limitations in architecture to change the realm of possibilities.

Make Your Contribution to Singapore’s Built Environment

You know good buildings and places when you encounter them - not just aesthetically pleasing, but functional, user-friendly, inclusive, environmentally sustainable - in short, liveable. Singapore has had a very liveable environment, but this was not always the case. Many pioneers were living in crowded shophouses or rural kampongs, not the kind of experience we have come to expect in our modern-day residences and estates. As we celebrate Singapore’s 50th anniversary this year, it is timely to take a step back and marvel at how much our Built Environment pioneers have transformed the face of Singapore, and appreciate just how far we have come as a nation. Take not the opportunities you have been given for granted. As your forebears and pioneers have done before you, put your skills and experience you will gain to good use, and rise to the challenge of building on the legacy to carry on for the next 50 years, and shape Singapore’s built environment for the betterment of lives going forward.

Conclusion

Congratulations once again to all scholarship recipients. I wish all of you the very best as you build up a deeper level of expertise in your respective fields and I trust that you will have a rewarding and fulfilling career in the Built Environment sector. Your greatest asset will be your skills, and you will find many opportunities to sharpen them and become amazing professionals who help to build a brighter future not only for yourselves but for your loved ones, the community, and the nation.

Thank you.

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