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Speech (in Chinese) by Ms Sim Ann at the Singapore Chinese Language Theatre: Engagement, Observation and Reflection
I am delighted to join you this evening to celebrate the 47th Anniversary of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore.Education and Engineering - the past and present
A couple of months ago, I addressed several hundred school leaders and teachers at our annual Ministry of Education Work Plan Seminar. It is an important yearly occasion when we come together to affirm the direction for our education system. You may know that my colleagues and I have been focusing on Every School, A Good School. Our aim is to give our children a broad and deep foundation for a lifelong journey of life and learning.
What does this mean? We are doing more to conflate the classroom and the real world at an early stage in the student’s learning journey, with strong guidance, to reflect the dynamics of the real world, where problems, and opportunities, know no boundaries. The important part of education is to help our children acquire knowledge, integrate different strands of knowledge, and apply this to solve real world problems.
This is an approach that many in the engineering world know well. Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comics, says, “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.” It is a joke, of course, but hits on a truth about engineers - that you are trained to tackle problems systematically, and don’t shy away from challenges. Well, there is no shortage of handily available problems today. The inaugural World Engineers Summit, that was just held in Singapore in September, focused engineers’ minds on one of our most urgent challenges today: to find innovative and sustainable solutions to climate change.
Climate change, and other challenges, like the societal and healthcare stresses of an ageing population or the social effects of disruptive new technologies, will only get more urgent and more complex. In this dynamic and evolving landscape, we need our engineers to be on the leading edge of society’s needs and pressures, to continue to recognise and solve problems in a systematic way.
Many of Singapore’s early survival challenges benefitted from the engineer’s touch, be it in the design of our low-cost public housing, or the delivery of robust public transport and communications systems, or the development of our critical industry clusters such as electronics, petrochemicals, manufacturing, construction and services. From our early years, Singapore has placed a heavy emphasis on education in engineering and technical expertise. Our school curricula give students a deep foundation in sciences and mathematics from a young age. We established institutions that emphasise both academic and technical training so that Singaporeans enter the workforce with the skills to succeed. It is this kind of attention to engineering in education that bolsters our workforce to be ranked best in the world by Business Environment Risk Intelligence (BERI) yearly. It also allows us to anchor important industries in Singapore and create good opportunities for our people.Education and Engineering - the future
Engineering permeates almost every sector. The comforts of life would be unimaginable without it. The URA’s draft Master Plan released recently, and its plans for sustainable and green living, have stirred up much excitement. It is engineers, working with respect and understanding with architects, urban planners, and other experts, who help make possible exciting new visions like the Boulevard District in Tampines North and the Marina South district.
Singapore will continue to place strong emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (or STEM) Education. And we will do so with a sharpened perspective, as we know that what worked in the past may not suffice for the future. On the global front, the world is facing challenges such as climate change and global warming; as well as increasing demands for clean energy, drinking water and air. New engineering disciplines, such as bio-engineering, nanotechnology, aerospace, and renewable energy, among others, have emerged. Our economy is undergoing restructuring and diversification to maintain its vibrancy. These changes, known and unknown, call for a new breed of engineers with new mindsets and skills. Increasingly, solving real life challenges calls for an inter-disciplinary approach. Much innovation happens at the intersection of disciplines. A wider range of skills is also needed, such as creativity, interpersonal and collaborative skills.Engineering Education - going beyond the traditional
Hence, engineering education has to go beyond the traditional. Our schools and Institutions of Higher Learning no longer just focus on developing students who are proficient in technical knowledge, but on nurturing a spirit of curiosity and inquiry, and prompting them to think creatively and entrepreneurially. Our institutions emphasise the development of innovative course programmes and collaborations with foreign counterparts to give our students a competitive edge in the international playing field. They also work continuously with local industry players to ensure that education stays relevant and is able to meet tomorrow’s needs. Many of you here tonight are familiar with and active in these programmes. Thank you for your partnership.
Allow me to share a few examples that show our commitment to engineering education, and how we are evolving and changing in this. The Nanyang Technological University has introduced the Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP), an integrated, rigorous and fully-residential programme with a curriculum that covers a broad spectrum of multi-disciplinary subjects bridging Engineering, Business and the Liberal Arts. At the National University of Singapore, a Design-Centric Curriculum was launched in 2009 to bring students from different engineering disciplines to work together on projects to solve problems and develop new technologies. I met a group of these students who invited me to an event. They had put up quite an exhibition, and the way they approached it was impressive. They linked together the different strands of knowledge to look at real world needs, and apply engineering skills to solve the needs. The Singapore University of Technology and Design, set up in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and China’s Zhejiang University, offers a novel, multi-disciplinary curriculum, with design thinking as a strong horizontal that serves to integrate its four pillars of undergraduate study. Next year, the Singapore Institute of Technology will also start to offer its own applied engineering degree programmes which include the Integrated Work Study Programme. This will allow students to gain real work experience in the course of their studies and later apply classroom learning in their immediate work environments.
Our focus on STEM education is not just limited to the Universities. Apart from our Universities, our Polytechnics and ITE provide exciting opportunities for students who are interested in and have an aptitude for these subjects. In fact, more than half of the courses offered in our polytechnics and ITE are STEM-related, with a strong emphasis on the acquisition of skills and on applied learning. Our Polytechnic and ITE system is known for its offerings of rigorous and applied courses, and we want to continue to expand opportunities for our Polytechnic and ITE students. Hence, the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE REview (ASPIRE) Committee, chaired by SMS Indranee, will look at expanding and strengthening these applied pathways, and in particular, at creating exciting learning and career opportunities for students who enter STEM-related areas.
We are also trying to establish a stronger foundation for students who may eventually take up engineering and STEM subjects by introducing the concept of applied learning at an earlier age. All our secondary schools will have, within the next few years, Applied Learning programmes to help students connect knowledge across disciplines, stretch their imagination and apply their lessons in authentic settings. The engineering discipline is an ideal fit for this kind of applied learning. These are just a few examples of what we are doing. We must continue to try new and different approaches to make applied learning and engineering attractive to our students, to stimulate their interest from young, and to help them learn in a way that matches real world conditions. I hope that IES will be able to work hand in hand with the schools at all levels, to explore how we can better facilitate the learning of engineering and STEM-related subjects, and make it an exciting and enjoyable experience for our students.
In particular, let’s start getting our children excited about, and comfortable with, applied learning from an early age. Our schools have worked with our universities and industry partners to develop programmes, such as the Robotics Programme in Hai Sing Catholic School. So I hope that industry partners will work with our schools to set up a range of “tech labs” and “tinker labs” where students can play and tinker, to build gadgets and prototypes. Applied learning works very well too in fields beyond science and technology, like the humanities, and I also welcome the collaboration of partners to join us to bring all subjects to life and greater relevance. The two MOUs to be signed tonight - between IES and the Singapore Institute of Technology, and between IES and the Singapore University of Technology and Design - to link the engineering students of these universities with the wider engineering community in Singapore, and I heartily encourage you to pursue this.
The pioneering engineers deserve our respect for shaping our home and lives in significant ways. While we continually innovate in our teaching and our facilities to give our children the best exposure possible to engineering, I hope to preserve your pioneering spirit - the spirit of wonder to question how things work, the spirit of daring to make things happen, and the spirit of restlessness to make things work even better. Thanks to the feedback from many of you, my colleagues and I work hard to prepare our students better, so that successive batches can surpass the achievements of the last. I look forward to your continual active partnership in sparking the passion of our would-be engineers, to inspire them and to shape the future members of IES.Honouring the contributions of the engineering community
I commend IES for your outstanding work over almost 5 decades as the voice of engineers, advancing the profession and providing valuable feedback on professional matters to the Government. Your training arm - the IES Academy - complements the engineering education in our schools, inspiring our students and helping them keep pace with the evolving needs of the industry.
Congratulations too on the launch of IES’ four new professional chapters this evening, which, I am sure, will help to raise the profile of engineers in these disciplines locally and internationally.
Tonight, I am delighted to join you to pay tribute to our most accomplished engineers, including the 270 engineers in the second edition of “Who’s Who in Engineering, Singapore”, who have made notable achievements in the academic, industry and political fields. I thank all of you for your contributions to making Singapore the modern city and best home it is today.
We celebrate too tonight’s winners of several prestigious honours, including the 6th IES/IEEE Joint Medal of Excellence Award, the IES Gold Medal, and the IES-Yayasan Mendaki Scholarship. Congratulations and keep up the good work. I hope the students will continue to pursue engineering as a career and go far in this exciting profession.
Last but not least, may I congratulate the four veterans who will be conferred the IES Honorary Fellow title for their vital contributions to the profession and IES: Engineer Ong Ser Huan, IES Past President; Engineer Professor Chew Yong Tian; Mr Choo Chiau Beng, CEO, Keppel Corporation; and, Engineer Tang Kin Fei, Group President, Sembcorp Industries. I hope that your accomplishments will spur your peers and the younger generation to strive for excellence.
Once again, congratulations to IES for the significant progress you have made over the past 47 years. I wish you many successful years ahead. Thank you.
Speech by Ms Sim Ann at the Early Childhood Education Centre of Jamiyah Singapore’s Graduation Concert and Exhibition 2013
I am happy to be here today at Jamiyah Singapore’s Graduation Concert and Exhibition.
This is indeed a memorable event for each child who will be graduating today from the three Early Childhood Education centres of Jamiyah Singapore, namely, Jamiyah Kindergarten, Jamiyah Childcare Centre and Global Child Development Centre. I was told that about 65 students from the K2 classes from the three centres will be receiving their certificates today.
I applaud Jamiyah Singapore, a well-known charity organisation, for your commitment in carrying out various programmes and services, including providing early childhood education services, to benefit fellow Singaporeans, regardless of race or religion.
Children are precious and the foundation of our future. Hence, we have to provide them with the best of opportunities; such as making available conducive and happy learning environments to enable them to receive a quality education, and to allow them the space and freedom to explore their interests and passion. In this way, our children can grow into confident, capable persons able to face the challenges of the future.
I am happy to see that Jamiyah’s educational services have continued to grow in terms of student population and quality. This is due in part to the pool of professionally qualified and dedicated teachers who are in charge of delivering the programmes at Jamiyah’s Early Childhood Education Centres.
These educators often take the opportunity to network and interact with their counterparts in other early childhood education centres, both local and international, to learn and share best practices. I would like to commend the teachers for their initiative as such a healthy practice will certainly help raise the professionalism of the teaching community in the early childhood education industry in Singapore.
Children studying in these centres are indeed fortunate to have such passionate teachers, with a penchant for innovation and adopting good practices and standards in the industry. I am sure the positive traits displayed by these teachers would rub off on their students and help to contribute to their positive development, as well as shape their attitudes towards their own learning. I understand that Jamiyah Singapore is taking steps to upgrade the educational services of these early childhood education centres by enhancing their facilities and equipment; as well as providing opportunities for the teachers to develop themselves professionally through further education and training, both locally and abroad. I am heartened by Jamiyah Singapore’s initiatives as the quality of teachers is indeed critical to the quality of education provided at our centres.
Recently, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) announced various support schemes to benefit kindergartens and childcare centres. I am sure that your centres will make use of these schemes to enhance the quality of your educational services and expand them to benefit even more children.
My congratulations to all our young friends today, who are moving onto the next stage of their education journey. To the parents present here, please continue supporting and guiding your children in their learning as you have done these past few years. There is still a long way ahead for your children, and it is important that parents help to guide them along, not only in helping them with their educational choices, but also in the process of growing up.
I wish Jamiyah every success and may your teachers continue to nurture the children under your charge with passion and commitment.
Students collected their Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results from their respective primary schools today.Performance of 2013 Primary 6 Cohort1
A total of 43,047 Primary 6 students sat for the PSLE this year. Among these students, 41,974 students (or 97.5%) are assessed suitable to proceed to secondary school. 66.7% are eligible for the Express, 19.9% for the Normal (Academic) and 10.9% for the Normal (Technical) courses.
There are 1,073 students (or 2.5%) who are assessed to be not ready for secondary school. Of these, students who have attempted PSLE once may, based on the recommendations of their primary school principals, re-attempt the PSLE in the coming year or apply to Assumption Pathway School (APS) or NorthLight School (NLS). The remaining students who have more than one attempt at PSLE will be offered a place in APS or NLS.2013 Secondary One Posting Exercise
Students eligible to progress to secondary school received their Secondary One (S1) Option Form from their respective primary schools today. Students are required to discuss with their parents as they complete the option forms. Parents may submit their child’s S1 Options online via the Secondary One Internet System (S1-IS). The S1-IS will be available from 11.00 am today until 3.00 pm on 28 November 2013 through the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) S1 Posting website at http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/secondary-one-posting/.
Alternatively, parents may submit their child’s S1 options through their child’s primary school. Submission at the primary schools started today from 11.00 am to 3.00 pm; and will continue between 25 and 28 November 2013 from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm.
When choosing secondary schools with their child, parents are advised to consider the proximity of the school from home, the suitability of the learning environment given their child’s learning needs and interests (e.g. school programmes, niches and CCAs offered by the school), and the previous posting aggregate ranges of the school, amongst other factors. The previous year’s posting aggregate range can serve as a guide, but the eventual range may vary depending on demand patterns and cohort size for that year.
The S1 posting results will be released on Friday, 20 December 2013. Students are to report to the secondary schools they are posted to on Monday, 23 December 2013 at 8.30 am.Footnote
- For information on children exempted from the Compulsory Education Act, please refer to the attached “Information Sheet on the 2013 PSLE Results of Students Exempted from Compulsory Education”.↩
Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah at the First Session of the Singapore Institute of Technology’s Graduation Ceremony
Thank you for inviting me here today to share in this very special occasion. Together, you represent over 500 graduands from seven overseas universities:
- Technical University of Munich;
- University of Glasgow;
- University of Manchester;
- Newcastle University;
- Trinity College Dublin;
- DigiPen Institute of Technology; and
- The Culinary Institute of America.
I enjoy attending graduation ceremonies, not only because it is a celebration of our youth’s achievements, but also because these are occasions for families and friends to gather and share in a timeless moment that marks the beginning of a new stage in young lives.
Many will commemorate this day with pictures taken with your smartphones. You will share your joy and excitement through new social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And although these ways of capturing the moment have become almost second nature, they clearly reflect the rapid pace of technological change we have seen over the years.
In the early 2000s, graduands would whip out their Nokias, to send text messages to congratulate each other, or if they were bored, play two-dimensional games like Snake or Tetris. Digital cameras only started becoming popular after that. And you could run the risk of shooting overexposed photos with zero hope of recovery.
Fast forward about five years, and Blackberry was then the norm. Graduands became expert “blind typists” in punching their physical keyboards to send a message through Blackberry Messenger to their peers. There were more digital Single Lens Reflex cameras, or more commonly known as SLRs, around the necks of more family members who were eager to capture this special occasion.
Today, amongst the audience here, the phone and camera is in one. There is no need to send individual messages - the Whatsapp group works fine. You don’t have to worry about bad photos - Instagram filters and a little Photoshop can work wonders.Value of a Skills-Based Education
You can see just from this example that the world is changing so quickly. What remains constant is our young people’s adaptability. It never ceases to amaze me how you are so quickly able to pick up new trends and technology, and integrate it in your daily lives. And as our youths attain diplomas and university degrees, employers are also becoming savvier. They look at the hard skills you have learnt, rather than paper qualifications, when hiring.
The theme of this graduation ceremony, “The Start of New Connections”, is an appropriate one. As you start work in your industry, whether it is in engineering, nursing, animation or the culinary arts, you will appreciate the crucial link between theory and practice. Beyond paper qualifications, the practical skills that you have developed in your education with SIT will allow you to be better specialists in your fields. This will stand you in good stead for the jobs that you want.SIT’s role in developing best-in-class, hands-on specialists
The Government recognises the importance of emphasising skills in education and to achieve this aim, SIT and UniSIM are pioneering the new applied degree pathway. The pathway will feature longer and more structured work attachments, as well as a stronger integration between classroom learning and practical experience at work. There will also be a strong focus on applied projects so that students can hone the skills they have learnt in school and at work.
There will be various programmes offered, with one common thread running through all of them - a clear emphasis on industry-relevant skills, and the integration of theory and practice. SIT has announced its slate of programmes to be launched next year. What distinguishes SIT is its clear focus on developing specialist talent by building deep technical expertise in its students. This is well aligned with the increasing emphasis on skills, and that is what employers look for.
The applied degree pathway will add to the diversity of higher education options for our students and there is a recognition of the different strengths, interests, and learning preferences of our students. This pathway will provide more opportunities for our students to develop their expertise and fulfil their professional aspirations.
Coming from the polytechnics, many of you have already decided on your specialisation and choice of career early on. Take for example Mr Lee Chang Sheng, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Mechatronics from the University of Glasgow. He enrolled into the Diploma in Mechatronics programme from Temasek Polytechnic after being captivated by how mechanical and electrical systems could be integrated to create a humanoid robot. From there, it was a natural progression to SIT, where the Mechatronics programme offered by University of Glasgow has broadened his perspective on engineering and honed his hands-on and collaborative skills with fellow engineers.
SIT will offer more programmes so that more people like Chang Sheng can further develop skills in their areas of interest. I am confident that SIT, together with its overseas university partners, will become a quality institution recognised for training our next generation of best-in-class specialists.Enhancing Applied Education at the ITE and Polytechnics
The Government remains committed to strengthening our focus on applied learning and skills-centred training at all levels within our education system, and for each student to develop deep skills and expertise in their chosen fields. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the formation of the Applied Study in the Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) Committee, which I will be chairing.
The ITE and polytechnics have done well and their graduates are well regarded by employers. Our technical and vocational education training system is respected by other countries too, and many visit Singapore to learn from us.
As has already been announced earlier, we will look at enhancing applied learning at the ITE and polytechnics, as well as promoting lifelong learning, so that our ITE and polytechnic graduates are better equipped to leverage on the opportunities in the new economy. Apart from studying how applied education in the ITE and polytechnics can be strengthened in terms of partnerships with industry, and other pedagogical enhancements, we will also be paying attention to the issue of education and career guidance, and how this can be strengthened.Early career and education guidance
Gen Y workers are often characterised as being not so able to take some of the hard knocks in life. Just consider these numbers:
- In a Singapore Human Resources Institute study done in 2010, 71% of Gen Y respondents agreed or strongly agreed that it was “normal” for Gen Y workers to job hop.
- In 2011, HR firm Kelly Services found that 63% of Gen Y respondents felt that they were likely to switch jobs within the next five years.
- In 2013, career portal STJobs reported that almost 61% of employees who plan to leave their jobs after collecting their year-end bonus are Gen Y workers.
This is just reflective of the way this generation thinks, not just in Singapore but worldwide. The truth of the matter is that change happens very quickly in the workplace as well. The reality is that many only find their calling, or at least a good job fit for the longer haul, after some trial and error and after they had obtained some work experience. Indeed, the most recent Straits Times survey done this August found that 67% of employees in their 20s would give up a high-paying job for one with more meaning and purpose.
Therefore, an important aspect of our review will be to explore how we can better help students discover their passion and their calling in life, and how we can maximise their chances of choosing academic courses and career tracks which match their strengths and interests.
We hope too that parents will get more involved in helping our children discover their passion early and support their interest and decisions.
In the Gen Y world, it is no longer about the iron rice bowl. There was a time when parents used to ask their children to pick from things like a calculator, a book, and a thermometer, as an indication of their aspirations, as accountants, teachers, and doctors, which have traditionally been regarded as stable and respected jobs. They still are, but you will find that Gen Y’s range of interest and options are much broader than that. They also look for the personal meaning of their jobs, and the ability to make a difference, and they don’t also choose a traditional path.
It is heart-warming to hear stories like Mr Toh Song Choon’s, who is graduating from the Trinity College Dublin’s Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy programme. After graduating from Meridian Junior College, Song Choon did attachments in the hospitals to find out about the day-to-day work of being a doctor and dentist. But both professions were not his cup of tea. He then chanced upon a physiotherapy session and the idea of treating and empowering patients not through medicine, but physical exercise. This impressed him greatly and convinced him to enrol into Nanyang Polytechnic’s diploma programme in physiotherapy.
It is even more encouraging to hear of his parents’ support for his decision to specialise early in physiotherapy, even if it may not be the first career track within the healthcare sector that immediately comes to our minds. It is important because it is his choice and also an area in which there is a need.
Following his passion has done Song Choon well, and he was fortunate to have his parents’ full support. He was the graduate speaker for his cohort during his NYP graduation ceremony, and today he graduates with First Class Honours.Lifelong Learning for the 21st Century
As you begin the next chapter of your lives, remember that this ceremony marks a milestone. It is the beginning and not the end of your education journey. I hope that you will continue to have the desire to learn. As Professor Tan Thiam Soon has said, one must be prepared to “learn, unlearn, and relearn”, especially with the rapid pace of change in technology and industry.
I can already see this aspect of the SIT DNA in some of the graduands here today. Take for example, Ms Maxim Tan, who is graduating from the University of Manchester’s Bachelor of Science (with Honours) in Nursing programme. After graduating with a Diploma in Nursing from Nanyang Polytechnic, she worked as a staff nurse in Changi General Hospital (CGH) for two years. She was then sponsored by CGH to go for an Advanced Diploma in Medical and Surgical Nursing to equip her with specialist skills in her area.
Maxim did not stop there. After two years, she recognised that our local healthcare sector was facing a different set of challenges due to our aging population. Thus, she left CGH to take up the Nursing programme, so that she could learn more about palliative and long-term care. She is now back in CGH as a Senior Staff Nurse and is eager to put her newfound knowledge into practice and to impart it to junior nurses.
MOE will continue to ensure that there are adequate education opportunities for continual learning and re-learning as part of lifelong learning, so that our graduates can continue to meet the challenges of the new economy. As fresh graduates, I hope that you will embrace this spirit of learning and continual improvement and development, so that you can make a greater difference not just in your own lives, but also in contributing back to society and helping others.Relevance of skills to the community
I am heartened to hear that despite being such a young institution, SIT students have already organised two overseas community projects to Vietnam and Cambodia to impart their skills and uplift the livelihoods of youths-at-risk. Through both projects, students from the Nursing, Allied Health, Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Early Childhood Education programmes taught young employees in social enterprises employable skills by conducting workshops on first aid, food hygiene, as well as customer service.
As you can see, the skills that you have picked up are not only relevant in your careers, but are also significant in giving disadvantaged youths a chance to break out of their poverty cycle. As you begin your careers, you will realise that personal time is a premium compared to the days when you were in school. However, I encourage all of you to consider how you can put your skills to good use in giving back to society. There is no greater satisfaction than shaping the society of tomorrow, with the expertise you have today.The Start of New Connections
The start of new connections - It also means that as you graduate from SIT and step out to the working world, your relationship with SIT, employers, and the community will be different. You will no longer be SIT students, but its flagbearers. Employers will look at you as the type and quality of graduates they expect from SIT. SIT will also be measured by the impact that its alumni will bring to the community.
I hope that you will wear the SIT mantle with pride and continue to do the university proud. As an SIT alumnus, I also hope that you will come back to contribute in whatever way you can, and shape the fledging institution.
Congratulations once again on your achievements, and thank you very much.
It is a pleasure to be here at the inaugural Early Childhood Conference. For the first time, the early childhood sector in Singapore stands together as one community to provide a strong start for every child. The vision of excellence for the sector was the focus of the conference yesterday and I believe that the discussions you have had with each other will have affirmed the importance of high quality early childhood care and education for our children.
This journey towards excellence in the early childhood sector requires the partnership and commitment of everyone in this fraternity. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is committed to work with all of you on this journey to uplift the quality of early childhood education in Singapore. We want to continue to build the quality of our partnerships within the fraternity, with families and communities.Supporting Early Childhood Educators in Singapore
In the past year, we have seen significant policy developments and changes in the early childhood sector in Singapore. The formation of the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) was a significant step towards an integrated eco-system of early childhood care and education in Singapore. Early childhood professionals, leaders and educators, play a central role in facilitating enriching learning experiences and implementing a quality curriculum. To support you in your teaching, MOE has developed a suite of curriculum resources for the sector over the years, and we will continue to do so in close partnership with ECDA.
MOE has been developing the Nurturing Early Learners (NEL in short) Curriculum, a comprehensive tool kit for educators who are responsible for nurturing and developing children aged four to six years. This tool kit comprises three components: (a) the Nurturing Early Learners or NEL Framework, (b) the Educators’ Guide, and (c) teaching and learning resources. The Nurturing Early Learners’ philosophy underscores the importance of holistic development, and is guided by our belief that children are curious, active and competent learners.
Earlier this year, we shared a refreshed version of the NEL Framework to every pre-school centre in Singapore. Together with ECDA and the National Institute of Education, we have organised workshops to train early childhood educators to better understand how the Framework can be translated into practice. I note that some 2000 educators have attended these workshops to date.
Today, I am pleased to announce that the Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Educators’ Guide and NEL Framework for Mother Tongue Languages are ready to be shared with the sector.Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Educators’ Guide
The NEL Educators’ Guide is the first complement to the Framework and is designed to support early childhood educators to create quality learning experiences and rich learning environments for children. The guide will help you put into practice the teaching and learning principles articulated in the Framework, provide ways to organise the learning environment, and ideas to observe and assess learning. Examples of learning activities that will support children’s attainment of the learning goals at the end of Kindergarten 2 are also provided to illustrate the links between principles, practice and outcomes. The guide will be distributed to all kindergartens and childcare centres.
The NEL Framework and NEL Educators’ Guide provide early childhood educators with a shared language and set of tools to inspire reflective practice. We hope that the NEL Curriculum will help enhance your professional growth and build your knowledge and confidence to support children’s learning and development in your respective roles. We encourage you to refer to the NEL Educators’ Guide, apply the principles, try out the ideas and build on your current knowledge and practice to develop a curriculum that meets the interests, needs and diverse abilities of the children. We also encourage you to experiment and explore other strategies and activities that will help children learn. More importantly, we encourage you to share your ideas with other early childhood educators so that more educators and children can benefit, and so that partnerships within the fraternity will be strengthened. MOE will continue to partner ECDA in the development of training and professional development programmes to support you in the use of the NEL Educators’ Guide.Nurturing Early Learners Framework for Mother Tongue Languages
The learning of Mother Tongue Languages is important. It is important because it strengthens and affirms our cultural identity, it reinforces the values, traditions and customs of our culture, and maintains Singapore’s edge in an increasingly competitive and globalised economy.
A growing body of research indicates that there are cognitive benefits of bilingual language learning and that the golden period for children to pick up language learning is in the early childhood years. The NEL Framework for Mother Tongue Languages launched today provides a guide to the teaching and learning of our Mother Tongue Languages for pre-school centres.
It articulates the vision, objectives and guiding principles for Mother Tongue Language teaching and learning. Our vision is for every child to be an active learner, who enjoys using his or her Mother Tongue Language, communicates with confidence and appreciates the local ethnic culture.
The framework also sets out learning goals that every child should achieve at the end of Kindergarten 2. The learning goals were developed in consultation with pre-school teachers and leaders, professionals involved in teacher training, as well as primary school Mother Tongue Language heads of department. The learning goals will help smoothen the transition for children from pre-school to primary school.
MOE will partner ECDA to provide Mother Tongue Language teachers with training and professional development to translate the principles in the Framework into sound classroom practices. Mother Tongue Language teachers can also look forward to the NEL Educators’ Guide for Mother Tongue Languages and supporting teaching and learning resources which we will share with the sector over the next two years.Conclusion
I hope you will find the NEL Educators’ Guide and NEL Framework for Mother Tongue Languages helpful. The aim is for these resources to provide a common understanding across the sector of the principles, practices and outcomes for pre-school education. We hope these will provide practical guidance as you design quality programmes and activities in your centre. We look forward to working in partnership with you to distil good practices in teaching and learning and share them within the community so that as a fraternity, we can grow deeper in our professional expertise and uplift the quality of early childhood care and education in Singapore.
I would like to conclude by thanking you for your commitment in nurturing our children and giving them the joy of learning as you lay the foundation for their future. I wish you all a fruitful day ahead at the conference. Thank you.
MOE launched two kindergarten curricular resources at the inaugural Early Childhood Conference on 21 November 2013 to guide educators to develop children holistically and to nurture their love for learning their Mother Tongue Languages (MTLs). The resources are the NEL Educators’ Guide, and the NEL Framework for Mother Tongue Languages. These resources are part a comprehensive tool kit of kindergarten curricular resources being developed to support early childhood educators in Singapore. Please refer to the Annex for the overview of the NEL Curriculum and the newly launched resources.NEL Educators’ Guide Practical and Relevant Guide for Curriculum Design
The NEL Educators’ Guide is designed to help early childhood educators put teaching and learning principles articulated in the NEL Framework into practice. The Guide includes ideas for planning, implementing and monitoring learning to foster children’s learning and development in the six learning areas identified for children’s holistic development through an integrated approach.
The Guide also includes teaching strategies to engage children more effectively, ways to organise the learning environment, and ideas to observe and assess learning. In addition, there are examples of learning activities that will support children’s attainment of the defined learning goals at the end of K2, to illustrate the links between principles, practice and outcomes. It is a practical resource to support early childhood educators in creating quality learning experiences and rich learning environments for children.Raising Educators’ Capability
The NEL Framework and NEL Educators’ Guide provide early childhood educators with a shared language and tools to inspire reflective practice. The intent is to enhance the professional growth of early childhood educators, which in turn builds their professional knowledge and confidence to support children’s learning and development in their respective early childhood settings. MOE has worked closely with the Early Childhood Development Agency to organise workshops, conducted by the National Institute of Education, to train early childhood educators so that they can better understand how to translate the NEL Framework and Educators’ Guide into practice. Some 2,000 educators have already attended the workshops to date.
MOE strongly encourages early childhood educators to refer to the Educators’ Guide, apply the principles, try out the ideas and build on their knowledge and practice to develop a curriculum that meets the interests, needs and abilities of their children. Educators are also encouraged to explore other strategies and activities that help children learn, and share those ideas with the early childhood fraternity so that more educators and children can benefit.NEL Framework for Mother Tongue Languages
As part of the NEL Curriculum, MOE is developing a parallel set of resources to support early childhood educators in the teaching and learning of MTLs.A Guide for MTL Teaching and Learning
MOE envisions for every child to be an active learner, who enjoys using MTL, communicates with confidence and appreciates the local ethnic culture. The NEL Framework for MTLs serves as a guide to the teaching and learning of the three official MTLs in Singapore. It centres upon the belief that children are curious, active and competent learners of MTL. The Framework articulates a broad set of vision, objectives and guiding principles for MTL teaching and learning (see Annex). The guiding principles help educators translate the Framework into practice, providing support in their planning and implementation of their MTL curriculum, as well as in their observation and evaluation of children’s MTL learning.Articulation of MTL Learning Goals to lay the Foundation for future MTL learning
The Framework sets out MTL learning goals that every child should be able to achieve at the end of Kindergarten 2 when he participates in a pre-school MTL programme. The development of the learning goals was done in consultation with early childhood educators and leaders, professionals involved in teacher training as well as primary school MTL heads of department. The learning goals will help to lay the foundation for future MTL learning, and ease the transition for children from pre-school to primary school where they will be learning EL and their respective MTLs.Importance of Nurturing Bilingualism
Strengthening efforts to encourage bilingualism at the pre-school level will enable our children to build a strong foundation for language learning when they enter primary school. Learning of two languages also promotes the children’s cognitive development. This will help children in their future learning when they grow older, for instance helping them to think critically and multi-task. Hence, it is important that early childhood educators and parents foster children’s love for MTL. Early childhood educators are strongly encouraged to adopt the NEL Framework for MTLs as a core reference to guide their review, planning and implementation of their MTL curriculum.
The framework will be translated into the three official MTLs in 2014, to support MTL educators in understanding and using the Framework. MOE will continue to work with ECDA to provide training for MTL educators to translate the principles articulated in the Framework into practice.Footnote
- The six learning areas are: Aesthetics & Creative Expression, Discovery of the World, Language & Literacy, Numeracy, Motor Skills Development and Social & Emotional Development. ↩
The results of the 2013 Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be released on Friday, 22 November 2013. Students may obtain their result slips1 from their respective primary schools from 11.00 am on 22 November 2013.Submission of Secondary One Option
Eligible students will also receive option forms to select secondary schools when they collect their results slips. Students are required to complete the option forms together with their parents.
In every sealed Secondary One (S1) Option Form, there will be a unique S1 Personal Identification Number (S1 PIN) which will allow parents to submit the secondary school options for their child online via the Secondary One Internet System (S1-IS). The S1-IS will be accessible from 11.00 am on 22 November 2013 to 3.00 pm on 28 November 2013 through the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) S1 Posting website at www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/secondary-one-posting/.
Parents are advised to consider carefully their child’s choices of secondary schools and complete the option form before logging on to the S1-IS, so that they can complete their online submission smoothly.
Alternatively, parents may submit their child’s secondary school options through their child’s primary school. Submission at the primary schools will be from 11.00 am to 3.00 pm on 22 November 2013; and 9.00 am to 3.00 pm between 25 and 28 November 2013.Release of Secondary One Posting Results
The S1 Posting Results will be released on Friday, 20 December 2013. Parents will be able to receive their child’s posting results through any of the following channels:
- Short Message Service (SMS) via applicant’s local mobile number (if provided by applicant during the S1 Option Phase)
- S1-IS at www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/secondary-one-posting/
- At the child’s primary school
Students are to report to the secondary schools they are posted to on Monday, 23 December 2013 at 8.30 am.
For more information on the S1 Posting Exercise and S1-IS, parents can refer to the MOE S1 Posting website (www.moe.gov.sg/education/admissions/secondary-one-posting) or the information booklet entitled “Choosing Your Secondary Schools” which was distributed earlier to the students. For enquiries, parents can call the MOE Customer Service Centre at 6872 2220 on weekdays from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm and from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm on Saturdays.Third Language
Students who are eligible to take a Third Language will receive an eligibility letter with the release of the PSLE results. A new Third Language, Spanish, will be offered at Secondary One from 2014.Spectra Secondary School to Admit Secondary One Students from 2014
Spectra Secondary School will admit students from January 2014, joining Crest Secondary School as the second specialised school for students eligible for the Normal (Technical) course. Apart from offering English Language, Mother Tongue Language and Mathematics as part of a four-year Normal (Technical) secondary school education, Spectra Secondary School students will be able to specialise in one of four ITE Skills Certificate courses at upper secondary level, namely Hospitality Services, Retail Services, Facility Services and Mechanical Servicing.
Interested students who are eligible for the Normal (Technical) course should apply directly to Crest Secondary School or Spectra Secondary School from 22 to 26 November 2013. These students should also apply for the other secondary schools in the S1 Posting Exercise. This would ensure students will be posted to another school of their choice if they are not admitted into Crest Secondary School or Spectra Secondary School. Students who are successful in gaining admission into Crest Secondary School or Spectra Secondary School will be informed by the schools via letter and SMS by 13 December 2013 and will not be posted to another school under the S1 Posting Exercise. Application forms will be available from primary schools when students receive their results, or on the schools’ websites (http://www.crestsec.edu.sg and http://www.spectra.edu.sg). More information on Crest Secondary School and Spectra Secondary School can be found in the Secondary One Information Booklet and on the schools’ websites.
- The highest and lowest PSLE aggregate scores will not be printed on the PSLE result slips from this year to allow the student to focus on his own achievement and holistic development↩