Knowledge Universe operates more than 3,000 preschools globally employing over 30,000 passionate educators and staff supported by world-class educational resources and well-researched curricula. Read more.
Speech (in Chinese) by Ms Sim Ann at the Singapore Chinese Language Theatre: Engagement, Observation and Reflection
Singapore’s 15-year-olds possess a range of knowledge and skills that are valued in the 21st Century, according to the 2012 results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial international benchmarking study organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The strong performance of our students reflects the efforts put in by our students with the support of our schools and parents.
Our students demonstrated the ability to inquire, reason, and communicate clearly in solving unfamiliar real-life problems. These problem-solving competencies are highly valued and would place our students on a strong footing to participate effectively in, and embrace the challenges of the 21st Century.
Our education system has become more broad and inclusive in providing opportunities for every child even as we maintain high standards and rigour. PISA 2012 shows that Singapore has made significant progress in levelling up the academically-weaker students, whilst sustaining the strong performance of the academically-stronger students. PISA 2012 also shows that our students possess high levels of motivation, engagement and confidence in learning.
The strong performance and positive attitudes toward learning of our students reflects the efforts put in by our students, the professionalism and dedication of our teachers, and the strong support of parents and the community.Key Findings Ability to Apply Knowledge and Skills in Unfamiliar Real-life Situations
Of the 65 participating education systems, Singapore students have again ranked among the top performers in paper-based Mathematics, Reading and Science literacies. Singapore was also among the top performers among the 32 education systems which opted to participate in the computer-based assessments of Mathematics and Reading1.
Our strong performance across the different areas of assessments shows that most of our students were adept at applying their knowledge and skills in novel ways. They were able to navigate in a computer-based environment and deal with ambiguous information, explore indirect relationships and work with less structured real-world data and representations. They demonstrated skills in evaluating different text sources for quality and credibility and in integrating information. They displayed higher-order cognitive thinking skills in resolving problem situations where a solution was not obvious.
This is in part due to the efforts of our teachers who encourage students to learn more actively and independently, and help them to develop an inquiring mind and a love for learning.High Level of Motivation to Learn Mathematics
PISA 2012 shows that Singapore students are highly motivated to learn Mathematics and are confident about performing a range of Mathematics tasks. They also enjoy and look forward to their Mathematics lessons. This could be attributed to the more learner-centred approaches to learning Mathematics which we have introduced to better cater to a wider range of learning styles.Improved Performance by Academically-Weaker Students
Compared to 2009, our academically-weaker students performed better, with less than 10 per cent of low performers2 in each of the domains.
These results affirm our ongoing efforts to support academically-weaker students, including customised lessons to suit different learning needs, the use of learner-centred teaching strategies and customised remediation programmes. With the gradual roll-out of the comprehensive suite of levelling-up programmes announced by MOE in 2013, we aim to further improve the performance of our academically-weaker students.Improved Performance by Academically-Stronger Students
Singapore’s high proportion of top performers indicates that our education system enables our academically-stronger students to maximise their potential. The proportion of top performers in Singapore has increased compared to 2009 - from 36 to 40 per cent in Mathematics, 16 to 21 per cent in Reading and 20 to 23 per cent in Science.
High-performing students were able to evaluate problem-solving strategies for dealing with complex problems, and worked strategically using broad, well-developed thinking and reasoning skills. They could organise multiple pieces of deeply embedded information and evaluate unfamiliar content. In Science, they demonstrated well-developed inquiry abilities, and were able to bring critical insights to situations and construct arguments based on evidence and analysis.
On our students’ strong and broad-ranging performance in PISA 2012, Ms Ho Peng, Director-General of Education said, “The findings show that MOE is on the right track in developing in our students competencies needed for the future workplace, while maintaining our strong fundamentals in literacy, numeracy and science. The findings are heartening in showing how we have levelled up our academically-weaker students and given them a strong foundation. At the same time, we continue to stretch high-performing students. We will continue to build on our strengths. We thank all teachers and school leaders for their dedication towards nurturing our students, and parents for working closely with schools to prepare our young for a fast-changing world.”Background
PISA is a triennial OECD study that examines and compares how well education systems are helping their students acquire the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. It assesses the capacity of 15-year-old students to apply knowledge and skills in Mathematics, Reading and Science, and to analyse, reason and communicate effectively as they solve problems in a variety of real-life situations. Each cycle provides information on all three domains but focuses on one major domain. Mathematics was the major domain in PISA 2012, with 65 education systems participating.
This was the second time that Singapore had participated in PISA. A total of 5,369 students, mainly from Secondary 3 and 4, from all 166 public secondary schools and 177 students from six private schools participated in PISA 2012. They were representative of the 15-year-old population in Singapore.Annex
- Table 1: Mean scores of top performing education systems in PISA 2012 paper-based assessment of Mathematics, Reading and Science literacy
- Table 2: Mean scores of top performing education systems in PISA 2012 computer-based assessment of Mathematics and Reading literacy
- Figure 1: Proportion of low performers in PISA 2009 and PISA 2012
View annex here.
It gives me great pleasure to join you today for the closing ceremony of Youth Model ASEAN Conference 2013. It is heartening to see so many young people come together, in the spirit of friendship and learning, to discuss and find solutions to the issues faced by ASEAN.
Over the past few days, you would have become more familiar with how ASEAN functions. You may have also heard about the ASEAN Anthem, entitled ‘The ASEAN WAY’. Let me read the lyrics of the Anthem. I quote:Raise our flag high, sky high
Embrace the pride in our heart
ASEAN we are bonded as one
Look’in out to the world.
For peace, our goal from the very start
And prosperity to last.
We dare to dream we care to share.
Together for ASEAN
we dare to dream,
we care to share for it’s the way of ASEAN.
Some of the lines in the anthem stand out for me. I would like to share some personal reflections on these lines, and ask you to think about how it also applies to all of you, as polytechnic students.We are Bonded as One - Balancing Individual and Collective Interests
The first line I would like to highlight is ‘ASEAN, we are bonded as one’. You would have learnt that the ASEAN seeks to establish an ASEAN Community, or more specifically, an Economic Community, Political-Security Community and Socio-Cultural Community. Collaboration towards a common goal and greater integration always requires a balancing of individual interests and the collective interest.
Over the course of this conference, you would have also become familiar with the “ASEAN way” of making decisions for the collective good: through musyawarah and mufakat, or consultation and consensus. These two processes have played a key role in village politics for centuries in our region and they are an important part of our social and cultural systems. Most of you would have also come to realise, through your committee discussions, that these processes take time. However, they are also necessary for us to arrive at decisions for the collective good with mutual respect and compromise.
This idea of balancing individual and collective interests can be applied to many other contexts in international relations, policy-making and our everyday interactions. It is easy to fight for what is beneficial to ourselves without caring for the collective good. It will even be harder when we have to trade our individual interests for the collective good. But we belong to a larger community, and there is no ASEAN without us caring for a collective good. As such, while we pursue our individual interests, I encourage you to constantly balance your individual interests with the interests of the larger community around you.Looking Out to the World - Having a Global Outlook
Apart from coming together as one ASEAN, ASEAN must also collaborate beyond our borders. Hence, the next line in the anthem about looking out to the world. As such, we can see ASEAN also collectively engaging with dialogue partners such as the United States through direct collaborations, and on integrated platforms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), which brings together 10 ASEAN member states and a further 8 participating countries.
As ASEAN citizens, we must possess a global mindset and cross-cultural skills, to interact with each other in ASEAN, and to interact with the rest of the world. The very objective of YMAC serves to develop these skills and experiences for you. I encourage you to seize the many other opportunities provided by your polytechnics for such exposure and develop these skills, as they will serve you well in the future.We Care to Share - Showing Compassion and Generosity
The line ‘we care to share’ was most recently seen in the response to the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, as the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management and ASEAN Emergency Rapid Assessment Team were activated. Individually, ASEAN countries also contributed millions of dollars in humanitarian aid. The Singapore Civil Defence Force has also dispatched a team to Tacloban.
We should not have to wait though for a crisis to show compassion and generosity. Today, we have the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme, ASEAN Young Professionals Volunteer Corp and many other regional, local and school-based programmes to grow a shared social consciousness in our youths and to allow them to contribute to the community. Platforms like YMAC also serve to increase your awareness of social and environmental challenges present. I am certain that many of you are actively serving in the community and I hope you will continue your compassion and generosity for the benefit others.We Dare to Dream - Striving Towards Our Aspirations
Lastly, and in conclusion, I would like to reflect on the line ‘we dare to dream’. The ASEAN 2020 Vision is to see ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian nations - outward-looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.
Just as ASEAN has a vision, each of you has your own aspirations. As you dare to dream and strive towards your aspirations, remember the importance of considering the collective interest, having a global outlook and showing compassion and generosity to those around you. Almost 60% of ASEAN’s population is below 30 years old, and you are among the 360 million ASEAN youths who are our hope for the future.
I very much look forward to hearing your presentations later, but more than that, I hope to see many of you rise up to the challenge of daring to dream, for yourself, Singapore, ASEAN and our world.
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.