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Our Mother Tongues as Living Languages

Ministry Of Education Feed - 11 hours 40 min ago
Online registration for Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) Symposium 2015 sharing sessions and workshops is now open!

Keen in nurturing a love for Mother Tongue Languages in children? The Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) Symposium is back again this year to help you do that! Be inspired by our speakers and pick up useful advice from local and international experts on how we can help children enjoy learning and using their MTL!

The 4th MTL Symposium will be held on Saturday, 29 August 2015, from 11 am to 8pm, at the Suntec Singapore Exhibition and Convention Centre. Themed "Our Mother Tongues as Living Languages", this year's MTL Symposium emphasises the importance of building a firm MTL foundation from young and how the family can help the child acquire the MTL confidently.

Into its fourth year, the MTL Symposium aims to bring together Singapore schools and the community to share their collective efforts in developing our children as active learners and proficient users of MTL. As in previous years, the focus of the Symposium will be on children from pre-school to lower primary levels. The emphasis will be on the importance of creating a home environment that is supportive of MTL acquisition.

The Symposium will feature a total of 20 sharing sessions and workshops, and 40 exhibition booths.


Sharing sessions and workshops: Participants can learn from local and international experts, and invited parent speakers, on fun and engaging ways to involve children in the learning of MTL. An informative session on the revised 2015 Primary School MTL Curriculum will be conducted by curriculum developers from MOE. Registration for the sharing sessions and workshops is now open to the public at www.mtls.com.sg.

Exhibition booths: Set up by pre-school centres, schools and community partners, parents and educators can explore fun and innovative ways of igniting a child's love for MTL learning.

A new feature in the symposium this year is the sale of a wide range of selected MTL learning resources. Children can also participate in "The MTL Challenge" activities at various booths, win attractive prizes, and be treated to an all-day programme of storytelling and performances at the MTL Wonderland.

Admission to the Symposium is free. The first 5,000 visitors will receive a goody bag. Registration is on a first-come-first-served basis. Members of the public may visit the website www.mtls.com.sg for a list of activities and exhibitions at the MTL Symposium and to register their interest.

Speech by Guest-Of-Honour Mr Heng Swee Keat at The Crest Secondary School Official Opening Ceremony

I am delighted to join you this evening.

The last time I was in the school was in 2012, talking to parents about sending their children to this school. The last time I met our students was at Jurong Garden and they were having their cross country run. At that time, they were all energetic and all raring to go. Today when I see them, they are even more energetic, livelier and more confident! Well done students! Let’s give them a big round of applause.

A School Brought to Life

When I first visited Crest in November 2012 during the Open House, what I saw was that the facilities, training venues, and equipment were all ready. There was no other secondary school campus like Crest in Singapore at that time. The campus is specially designed to support innovative and unique approach to teaching. It is a most impressive campus.

Teachers and staff were ready too - a passionate, dedicated team. Teachers applied for a chance to be here, and were selected to join Crest. When I visited, they told me how excited they were. I could sense your Principal Mr Yeo’s and all your teachers’ strong passion and sense of mission.

Crest in November 2012 was a very exciting place - bursting with purpose, promise, and passion. The school was ready. Teachers were ready. But one thing was missing - what was missing? The reason for building a school; the heart and soul of any school - you, the students. At that time, the school hadn’t taken in any students yet. I asked your Principal, “Were you worried that there would be no students?” But now we have so many parents wanting to send their children to Crest!

Today, back at Crest two and a half years later. I see the same innovative campus, same dedicated team, same unique vision. But now, Crest is completely alive in every way. I see your bright faces, your big smiles, together with your proud parents; your artworks on the walls; your names and pictures and good work in the classrooms; your messages on the noticeboards and your lovely performances.

And there is much else that we don’t see, like your lessons, learnt in class as well as from life; your personal victories over things that were difficult; your friendships, stories and new memories.

At MOE, we have been tracking what Mr Yeo and his team of teachers have been doing since then. We are very interested to know how Crest is doing. We learn from the good ideas that are working well at Crest and at the same time we draw lessons that will be useful to every school in Singapore. So I personally ask for regular updates. To see you today is to see the Crest vision coming true. It is something that is very exciting.

With Crest, we had the vision of a “whole-school” specialised approach to learning, where school leaders, teachers, resources, curriculum, everything come together with the same focus - to provide the best education possible for students eligible for the Normal (Technical) course, for you to learn better and to create opportunities for you to really shine.

Today, I hear from you that you look forward to coming to school every day, you enjoy your lessons and CCAs, you love your friends, you are inspired by your teachers to do your personal best, and you are excited about your future. Your families say you have blossomed and matured.

It is still early days, but, seeing you today, hearing your stories shows the Crest whole-school approach is working for you. It shows your future is bright if you keep making the most of your time in school and keep learning. And it encourages and inspires all of us to keep doing our best to create the opportunities for you to be at your best, as we create opportunities for students all over Singapore.

We started with a vision, plus a school with great facilities and teachers, and you, the students, have brought it to life.

A School Transforming Lives

It takes people to bring a good school to life, and it takes a good school to transform lives. Let me share two stories I read in your heart-warming book Our Crest Moments.

This is Javier’s family. Javier’s mum, Mdm Selina Lim, says Javier did not like primary school. But, “Now Javier enjoys going to school, always asking if he can go to school earlier or stay back after class with his friends or alone … As a mother of 2 boys, I felt consoled to see the changes in my son and know that he is in good hands.”

Javier is with the school’s Arts & Event Management CCA. Mr Yeo tells me that Javier is enthusiastic and committed, he likes being a part of the CCA, is one of those guys you want on your team, because he will do his part to support you, whether on stage or backstage. In fact, Javier is helping out in this event today.

This is Mr Diman Salleh, with Taufiq, who is in Secondary 3 this year. Mr Diman says that Taufiq is really enjoying his CCA — Pop Band. This helps him enjoy school. His studies have also improved. Mr Diman says, “These are not possible without the teachers (who) have successfully guided him … I have chosen the right school for him.”

Taufiq will be performing with his Pop Band members later. They are performing “The Best that I Can Be”. I hope that is an inspiration to all Crestans. Here is the best part of Mr Diman and Taufiq’s story. As part of his CCA, Taufiq’s talent as guitarist shone through. This has really bonded him with his father, who loves playing the guitar too. I was so happy to learn their story.

There are many more such stories. I am very happy Crest has helped our students to grow, and nurtured in them a love for learning and a zest for life.

At MOE, we work to make sure we make Every School a Good School for our students. Javier’s and Taufiq’s stories show that Crest is a good school, because it is shaping minds, building character, transforming lives. Crest understands how Crestans like to learn, and teaches in ways that get our students excited about learning, and that help you see the opportunities in your future.

Hearing your stories, I see that a good school is a good school because of 3 things. What are these?

First, a good school is a good school because of caring educators. They make the most of the right teaching facilities, develop the most interesting lesson plans, to fulfil their duty to guide, care, inspire.

Second, a good school is a good school because of engaged learners, like Javier and Taufiq and all of you. We saw how engaged you were in performing for us! Stay eager to learn, question, experiment, show the world your talents!

Third, a good school is a good school because of supportive partners. Children learn and grow best when they know they have their parents’ support and love along the way. The Crest story would not be possible without the strong support of all the parents and partners in our community.

I wholeheartedly say, Crest is a good school. Your teachers are caring, your students are engaged, your parents and partners are with you on this journey. You should be very proud. Congratulations!

Parents, students, share your stories with your friends and other parents. Spread the word so that more parents can also say - “I am so glad we chose Crest!”

A School with a Lively Community

Crest has won over not only the hearts of students and your families. I am happy to see the community has embraced the school, and Crest works closely with more than 60 partners.

My thanks to Minister Grace Fu and community leaders for your support for Crest. My thanks also to the Board of Directors, led by Mr Choe Peng Sum, CEO of Frasers Hospitality Pte Ltd, and Ms Melissa Kwee, CEO of National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, and all our Board Members, for your commitment and dedication, and for your passion in wanting to bring out the best in everyone in Crest. Your leadership, support and commitment matter greatly, so thank you very much!

My thanks to all the supporters, and neighbours and friends who give of your time and resources to create opportunities for Crest’s students. Partners offer many kinds of support - from student guidance, character development, community engagement, to industry internships. Today, we thank 12 outstanding partners, who have been staunch supporters since day one of the school. Can we give another round of applause to all our partners and friends of Crest?

The people who are responsible for breathing life into Crest, day in day out, moment by moment, for transforming lives at Crest, and for fostering a lively Crest community, are the teachers. They chose to join Crest because they believe in the unique vision of Crest. And they stay, and they give their all, because they believe in you - our students. The students give them someone to believe in, and your parents and the community give them the support to do their best for you.

Let me share a part of a poem by your teacher Ms Abigail Lee:

Every day when I awake,
I am thankful for the blessing of 589 younger brothers and sisters -
People that I can impact, and be impacted by.
So what keeps us going? What keeps me going?
Look up into the sky, and on special days you will find

The poem stops there. What do you think she sees when she looks up? She sees the blue open sky, which is her students’ future. Students, you are your teachers’ inspiration. And when they teach you, they are pointing you towards your own blue sky. Can we give a big round of applause for all your teachers?

Conclusion

We are opening Crest Secondary School in a very special year, our SG50 year, the Golden Jubilee of our independence as a nation. In fact, about 2 weeks before National Day. I am excited about the next 50 years for you - you will learn a lot, build great friendships, reach for your dreams, and make a difference in others’ lives.

To all our students, I wish you all the best. Enjoy your days in school. To parents, please keep giving your children your love and encouragement. See their strengths, their gifts, and help them be their best. To whole Crest team, thank you for bringing out the best in our students. Keep up the meaningful, important work.

To everyone in the Crest family — Congratulations on the official opening of Crest Secondary School!

Students' Gift to Singapore: 'SG50 Reflections: Our Hopes and Memories (HOME)'

HOME, a commemorative e-book, is a SG50 birthday gift to Singapore from our students. All primary, secondary, junior college, special education school students have contributed their reflections to this e-book, ‘SG50 Reflections: Our Hopes and Memories (HOME)’. Through videos, photographs, artwork and poems, students reflect on our past 50 years of nationhood as well as their aspirations for Singapore as we look to the future with confidence.

With stories spanning five decades of Singapore’s history and covering five themes - Culture & Celebrations, Defining Moments, Faces of Singapore, Memorable Spaces, and Progress & Achievements - readers can expect to learn some very interesting stories and facts about Singapore. For example, do you know that before the Singapore Zoo existed, there were private zoos in Singapore? Students from Punggol Primary School were so fascinated by their research that they dug into the earlier years of Singapore’s history. They found out that the Punggol Zoo was a hit with Singaporeans and tourists from 1920 to 1922, and Albert Einstein, the famous scientist, was one of its first visitors.

The SG50 HOME e-book will be launched by President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam at Presbyterian High School on 29 July 2015. He will be accompanied by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat. Student and staff representatives from schools will be present to witness the occasion, and students from 10 schools will showcase their contributions at the SG50 e-book exhibition hosted by the Presbyterian High School.

The SG50 HOME e-book is available to the public. Readers can download the e-book for free by searching ‘SG50 HOME’ in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Readers may also view a web version of the e-book at www.SG50HOME.sg.

Speech By Mr Heng Swee Keat at the Nanyang Technological University Confucius Institute (CI-NTU)’s 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner

Introduction

A very good evening to all. Thank you to NTU’s Confucius Institute (CI-NTU) for inviting me to this special occasion.

My heartiest congratulations to CI-NTU on your 10th anniversary.

The institute has done a lot of good work in the past ten years. It has established good links with Shandong University.

At the official opening of the CI-NTU in 2007, then-Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew noted that CI-NTU had done well in promoting Chinese language and culture - your programmes and events were well-received by schools and local grassroots organisations.

  Let me now say a few words in Mandarin before I continue.

首先,我要衷心祝贺南洋理工大学孔子学院成立10周年。

南大孔子学院除了提供优质的汉语课程外,它最突出的一点,就是在辅助和加强我国学生的母语学习上,扮演了一定的角色。

已故内阁资政李光耀先生在2007年7月14日为南洋理工大学孔子学院主持揭牌仪式时,曾指出:儒家学说中的伦理思想对建立一个成功、和谐的社会能起着至关紧要的作用。

李先生的理想是:在华文教学的实践中,除了语文技能外,也要把儒家思想融入其中。

孔子的教育着重个人品德的提升,更强调德行的实践。教育部在制订课程时,把孔子的一些思想和言论纳入我们中、小学的课文里。儒家的经典作品《论语》,也成为高中华文文学主修科供学生选修的特定教材。

新加坡的母语教学,不仅注重培养语言能力,也强调提高学生的人文素养;不仅让学生吸收语文知识,也强调给学生树立正确的价值观。

总的来说,这对我们“以学生为本、以价值观为导向”的教育大方针,确实做出了积极的贡献。

Creating A Harmonious Singapore

Let me now continue in English.

The philosophy and values that underpin Chinese society over thousands of years draw from many important strands - Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. These strands interweave and interact in rich, complex ways.

Singapore, as a multi-racial and multi-cultural society, is fortunate to weave a rich tapestry from the many strands of our cultural heritage.

  • We are at the confluence of three major Asian civilisations - the Chinese, Indian and Islamic.

  • At the same time, we are very global. With English as our common language, we are able to connect with the key thinkers, past and present, across the world. Our students with strength in languages take their mother tongues at a higher level, and may also offer a third language in German, French, Japanese and Spanish.

  • Singapore is therefore in a good position to weave from the best strands from these philosophical traditions and cultural traditions, and build our unique identity and cultural values.

  • To do that, it is important that the languages and cultures of different groups be shared with one another to promote deeper mutual understanding.

In this regard, I would like to commend CI-NTU for playing a special role,

  • While it caters to the Chinese community to promote the Chinese language and Confucian ideals and precepts, it has also sought to promote understanding of different value systems, cultures and philosophies.

  • This is something that CI-NTU can be proud of and is a direction CI-NTU should continue on.

Book: Singapura: Kotaku, Kampung Halamanku

The book Singapura: Kotaku, Kampung Halamanku, or “Singapore: My City, My Hometown” is an example of this effort, and an example of how literature can foster closer ties between members of different communities.

  • The book is a collection of the works of over 30 Singaporean poets, presented in both Malay and Chinese.

  • Two professors - Professor Leo Suryadinata and Professor Hadijah Bte Rahmat - worked together to translate poems written in Mandarin into Malay and vice versa.

  • This book celebrates Singapore’s rich multi-lingual, multi-cultural heritage. Even as we read in our own languages, we can continue to enjoy and appreciate each other’s culture.

The Next 50 Years: Relevance of Confucius Principles

Over the years, we are building and evolving a distinctive Singaporean identity,

  • Yet we are able to connect with many societies around the world.

  • Because of the common values and philosophies that we share.

Confucian values and precepts,

  • Have, for thousands of years, been valuable and endearing.

  • The key themes relating to human relationships - how we relate to one another, how we relate to our families, to the community, and to the broader society are evergreen themes.

  • The fact that these precepts remain valuable over thousands of years speaks to the depth of the insights of Confucius.

  • At the same time, these precepts need to adapt to suit specific local and cultural context, and evolve to keep pace with changes in our society.

  • Particularly for Singapore, the interpretation and implementation of Confucian values in our daily lives can and will continue to be enriched through dialogues with the major schools of philosophy from our multi-cultural heritage.

This year, we celebrate our Golden Jubilee as a nation. As we celebrate our past achievements and as we look forward towards the next 50 years,

  • We are reminded of the critical role that our value system plays in uniting us as a people, as a nation. The values of respect for others, responsibility for oneself and one’s family, and harmony in society, are much emphasised in the Confucian tradition. I believe these are values that have served us well.

  • It is important to continue to build on the foundation that we have achieved and continue to shape and nurture the values that have allowed us to come so far.

I am confident that we can synthesise our different strands of cultural heritage, and refresh the relevance of these Confucian principles so that we can build a unique value system that speaks to Singaporeans, while still holding on to what has kept us going for the past 50 years, and to connect with people and societies from all over the world. Our children are going to grow up in a much more globalised world. Helping them to stay rooted in Singapore and at the same time to be connected to people from around the world will be critical to their future.

I am optimistic that CI-NTU can continue to play an important role in promoting Confucian ideals and values, and in stimulating dialogues on the values that will enable us to build an even more successful and harmonious society in the coming years. I strongly encourage CI-NTU to continue engaging the young and other members of our society, in the Chinese community and beyond, to build a stronger Singapore and to build stronger links with our friends from the region.

Conclusion

Once again, I would like to congratulate CI-NTU on its excellent run in the past 10 years. I wish CI-NTU all the best in the years to come.

Thank you.

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the 2015 Teaching Scholarship Presentation Ceremony

It is a great pleasure for me to be here once again for our MOE Teaching Award Scholarship presentation.

210 young men and women are getting awarded MOE’s teaching scholarships and awards. I am glad that you are committing yourselves to shaping young lives. Why Teaching Scholarships?

At this scholarship ceremony, I am going to tell you one thing you expected, and another you may not.

  • First, the expected: My heartiest Congratulations! I am glad you choose to teach. This scholarship will support you to do that.

  • Second, the unexpected: The scholarship is important, but, by itself, it is not sufficient for you to become a good teacher.

So what else do you need to do?

Let me refer to the Vision of the Teaching Service: Lead, Care, Inspire - what do you need to do to lead, care and inspire?

As teachers, you need something you stand on, something you stay true to, something you reach for. You stand on a firm foundation. You stay true to your heart for others, your mission to serve, your values, principles and identity. You reach for the best in each of your students, you inspire and empower your students’ aspirations to reach for the brightest possible future for them.

You are here today because you have done well, because some teachers in your life have stood on a firm foundation, stayed true to their teacher’s mission, and helped you reach for your aspirations. You are here today because your parents have given you the firm foundation and you are on the brink of your own bright future. So this scholarship will help. But more importantly, you need that foundation, that sense of Mission and the aspiration. With these, you not only lead, care, inspire - you build a people, a nation, and a future.

Today, I want to share more about building a firm foundation. Teachers must seek to build a firm foundation. We guide students to be lifelong learners and give them a firm foundation for their lifelong learning - so teachers must be role models of lifelong learning. The logic applies with even greater force to every teacher regardless of your years of service.

Building a Firm Foundation

The Ministry recognises the deep impact teachers have on your students. As teachers, you will commit yourself to students’ learning and development. To do so, teachers need firm foundation not just in teaching a specific subject. It should be a firm foundation in developing the whole child.

The core of a teacher’s foundation is, in fact, your values. I am very happy that you have made the decision to commit yourself, your own learning and work to grooming young minds.

At the Ministry, we are also committed, not just to the students, but also to your own learning and development as teachers. Because you have made the commitment to the teacher’s calling, MOE too is committed to developing you, to help you succeed. In the same way that you build your foundation to develop the whole child, we build up programmes to develop our teachers fully.

The Ministry is committed to ensuring that teachers start with a firm foundation, and have the support and continual learning to keep building on this firm foundation. This is why, this year, we have enhanced the curriculum for NIE’s Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Education (BABSc (Ed) programme.

This is a new 4-year immersive degree programme. It integrates the best of an academic degree with a good foundation in the field of education. It has a strong inquiry focus - exposes student teachers to both education and content research, allowing them to continuously learn and inquire throughout their life.

Our approach is to help you deepen your knowledge and skills in two key areas: to know your subject well and to know how to teach it well.

First, Know your subject well.

  • This is about you and your subjects.
  • You must have strong content mastery.
  • When you know it well, and can show your students how it applies to their lives, you will help your students love the subject.

Second, Know how to teach your subject well So knowing the subject itself is not enough, you need to know how to teach it well.

  • This is about you and your students.
  • Your students have different paces and styles of learning.
  • You must understand how each student learns, the different things that motivate and inspire each student.
  • This is the more challenging, and also the most rewarding, part of teaching.
  • When I spoke about knowing your subjects well, I do not mean just academic subjects, but everything that comes with developing a whole child.
  • E.g., CCE. I have said this many times - that this is the most difficult subject to teach. Knowing how to teach this well is probably one of the bigger challenges for a teacher, but also one of the ways you leave the greatest impact on your students.

When teachers can bring together knowing the subject well, and teaching the subject well, you can make a massive difference to your students’ learning.

To help you know your subject well, the enhanced BA/BSc (Ed) will support student teachers in a few areas:

  • Develop deep content knowledge and disciplinary thinking.

    • For example, if you teach History, it will teach you to think like a historian. You would seek knowledge and meaning the same way a historian would.
    • A teacher with disciplinary thinking will be able to teach the subject more authentically. He or she will also be able to explain these ideas and their inter-connections more deeply, providing compelling rationale for learning the concepts.
    • It is the same for other subjects.
  • Another aspect of this programme is to acquire research skills under the mentorship of top professors and researchers in your content major.

  • The third expect of it is to learn in different contexts. The programme is a rigorous curriculum that includes a semester overseas with partner universities such as, UCLA, University of Helsinki, Linkoping University and Tsing Hua University.

To help you teach your subject well, the enhanced BA/BSc (Ed) will support student teachers to also:

  • Develop teaching skills of 4 practicum stints in school..

  • So this will deepen your practice and help you develop a global perspective on teaching and learning. Student teachers will spend 1 practicum stint overseas, in countries such as Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, China and the United States.

    • This is an exciting prospect for our student teachers.
    • You will work alongside passionate educators in different education systems. You will be able to see the similarities and differences, and learn for yourself what will work best for our students, in our unique environment.
  • And finally, you get to do educational research into understanding your students and how they learn. You need to be able to reach your students in order to teach them. Hence, understanding of student motivation and supporting their development is very important.

This enhanced BA/BSc (Ed) is the only programme in Singapore that provides undergraduates with the opportunity to inquire into the psychology of learners and the science of learning.

I am happy that 50 teaching scholars and award holders will be enrolled in the programme this year. You will be the second batch of scholars and award holders to have chosen to embark on this 4-year learning journey at NIE. Together with your seniors, we hope you will benefit from the enhancements to the programme, and go on to help your students learn.

What NIE learns from running this enhanced BABSc (Ed) programme, in terms of helping teachers build a firm foundation, will also be very helpful for other pre-service and in-service programmes too. This will also be helpful to our Academy of Singapore Teachers.

There are many opportunities to keep learning, even if you’re not on the BA/BSc (Ed) is programme. For those of you doing the Post-Grad Diploma in Education (PGDE) programme, make full use of this programme to build a good professional foundation. It will prepare you before you start in schools as trained teachers.

Whichever pathway you take (whether it is a 4-year foundation through BABSc or 1-year through PGDE), you need to grow and hone your skills as a teacher. The Academy of Singapore Teachers (AST) and the many on-the-job learning and improvement initiatives will support you in this journey.

Conclusion

Let me return to the one expected and one unexpected thing I said at the start. Once again, my heartiest congratulations to all of you as well as your family members, love ones who have supported you.

A scholarship is important in giving you the opportunities to build a firm foundation. But it will take more than a scholarship. It takes a firm foundation, a strong sense of mission, and inspiring aspirations.

The craft of teaching takes a long time to hone, on the job, day in, day out. Practising your craft, honing it, getting better. We start building the firm foundation at NIE, and this will give you an excellent start. We continue to strengthen this foundation throughout your teaching life, for life. Use that foundation to serve your sense of mission, and reach for yours and your students’ aspirations - and you will make a great difference to many, and mould the future of our nation.

Speech by Mr. Heng Swee Keat at the Closing Ceremony of the National Engineers Day 2015

A very good afternoon to all. A friend sent me an insight about the way engineers see things. It says: The pessimist sees the glass as half empty. The optimist sees the glass as half full. And the engineer? He sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be. The engineer approaches the world by asking two questions: ‘What is wrong and, how can we fix it?’; and ‘What is right, and how can we do better?’; In other words, how do we apply knowledge to solve real world problems?

So it is nice to join a room full of people who are constantly looking for ways to improve things. All of us should always think about how to make things better. We should also reflect on and appreciate what we got right. I am very happy to commemorate National Engineers Day and SG50 with you today, to jointly celebrate how far we have come, and set our sights on what more we can do.

From visions to creations

As part of SG50, we have been celebrating our pioneers. Amongst our pioneers are visionary engineers who contributed skill and foresight to transform Singapore. They include Mr Tan Gee Paw, master architect of Singapore’s water supply; Professor Lui Pao Chuen, whose contributions permeate our research, economic, and defence systems; and Professor Lee Seng Lip, emeritus professor of civil engineering at NUS, and many more who are featured in the book by IES.

STEM’s role in continual transformation of Singapore

For the last 50 years, we have made great strides in Singapore because we have been able to tap on the power of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), and integrate STEM with what we need to do to take Singapore forward. This must continue in the future. The more we are able to tap on the power of knowledge, be it in the fields of STEM or the arts and humanities, the better we will be able to take Singapore forward, the better we can transform Singapore. This is how we achieve a high quality of life, keep the economy vibrant, make productivity improvements, and create great jobs for our people. This is how we make a better home for all of us. And importantly, this is how we inspire everyone, especially our young on the beauty of discovering and creating things.

There will be a lot of potential for us to innovate in new, creative ways, be it in the expansion of Changi Airport, and projects like the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS). Engineers will continue to play a big role in our journey of nation-building. As a people, it is increasingly important for us to constantly ask how we can do things better.

This is why I support STEM education. I said before that we should make three fundamental shifts in transforming the way we learn. This is equally relevant in STEM education. First, beyond learning for work, to learning for life: mastering and applying STEM knowledge and skills enable us to achieve breakthroughs and improve lives. But we should also appreciate the beauty of discovering, making and doing things to make our lives more colourful. Second, beyond learning in school, to learning throughout life: enable us to keep up with continuous technological advancements, and adapt them to solve more problems. And finally, beyond learning for grades, to learning for mastery.

Government’s commitment to STEM education

Learning for mastery builds valuable skills in our students. MOE is constantly looking for ways to help our students learn better for mastery, including in the learning of STEM. We start students on STEM from a young age and encourage those with the passion to go as far as they can. To develop STEM talents, we recently established new schools, such NUS High School of Mathematics and Science; and School of Science and Technology. We introduced other initiatives such as “Code for Fun” programmes in primary and secondary schools, and STEM Applied Learning Programmes (ALPs) in many of our secondary schools (e.g., Science Centre staff work with teachers to bring STEM applications like underwater robotics and vertical farming into the classroom).

Many countries are coming to realise the power of STEM. In the UK, there is significant renewal in emphasis on STEM education, especially in Mathematics. We are in a good position because we have been staying on our course. All our students study science and mathematics at the primary and secondary levels. 60% of our O-Level students take Additional Mathematics. This helps to build a strong foundation to pursue STEM-related courses in polytechnics or Science courses in Junior Colleges (JCs). 80% of our A-Level students take Mathematics and at least one Science subject. This opens their doors to a wide range of STEM-related courses in universities. Many courses in our ITE and polytechnics are in STEM-related areas, which open up a range of exciting careers.

Indeed, demand for mathematical knowledge has grown. Apart from sciences and engineering, fields such as finance and business all require applications of advanced mathematics and quantitative analysis to solve complex problems. MOE has been in discussion with university faculties on how best we can build a rigorous foundation for students to undertake this discipline.

I am pleased to announce that MOE will be introducing Further Mathematics as a H2 level subject in the A-level curriculum from next year. Students in JC1 in 2016 will be able to take up this subject. This will create more opportunities for our young to develop stronger interest and foundation in STEM. Further Mathematics will expose students to advanced mathematical concepts in areas like linear algebra, numerical methods and statistics, with a focus on knowledge construction and applications. Students will appreciate how the application of mathematics lies at the heart of modern innovations (e.g., internet search engines, machine learning and intelligent system, and financial modelling). I hope that students with the passion for mathematics will seize this opportunity to take the subject and achieve greater mastery in the pursuit of STEM.

Conclusion

In closing, my heartiest congratulations to IES for organising this National Engineers Day, to celebrate engineers and the engineering spirit. Thank you once again, and happy National Engineers Day to all.

Texas Drownings Highlight Calls for Swim Instruction - Education Week

A spike in the number of children drowning this summer in Dallas County is bolstering calls for water-safety lessons in and out of school.

Speech by Mr Hawazi Daipi at the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit

Good morning. I am delighted to be here today at the 2015 Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit. This annual Summit, one of the highlights in Hwa Chong’s calendar, is now in its ninth year. I am glad to see that it continues to gather so many outstanding youth delegates from over 12 countries across four continents with the objective of exchanging ideas and insights over pertinent issues that affect the world today. It is my hope that a summit like this, with its unique gathering of young leaders from across the world, will continue to spark powerful conversations between global citizens who have a passion to make a positive change in this world.

Passing the torch, blazing the trail

The theme for this year’s Summit is “Passing the torch, blazing the trail”. Indeed, history is replete with inspiring stories of generations that have extracted valuable historical lessons and built upon the success of the past to triumph over the challenges of a new era. The enduring qualities of our predecessors have stirred and transformed the world in significant ways, empowering the generations after to create even better lives and a better world. Today, the numerous and rapid scientific and technological innovations have made the world more interconnected, and fostered global understanding and trade. However, we are also beset with challenges of various kinds. We are living in a very interesting, exciting but really challenging world, in many ways, more ways than one, and I hope that you will have the time to identify the issues that the world is now facing and find some ways for your generation to identify solutions for some of the problems. These include environmental degradation, pandemics and conflicts that arise from clashes in ideology, ethnicity and religion, to name just a few. These are acute reminders that the 21st century is becoming much more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous compared to the past; evidently, there are no easy solutions. There is therefore an emphatic need to look to history as a source of collective wisdom for guidance to chart our paths. As we inherit this valuable legacy, how can we be worthy stewards of this wealth of knowledge and experience and blaze the trails ahead? Several factors come to mind.

With meaning and purpose

Firstly, we must have a clear sense of purpose and meaning in life. The benefits of leading a purposeful life are extensive and well-documented. This view is further substantiated by Dr Martin Seligman, a leading authority in the field of Positive Psychology. Dr Seligman explains that “when (we) live a life of purpose and meaning, (we) use (our) highest strengths and talents to belong to and serve something (we) believe is larger than the self”. In other words, as we pursue our purpose and meaning in life, we can also contribute back to society and improve the lives of others. This is also in line with the values-driven education that is in place in our schools, which equips our students with an inner compass to guide them through the many challenges in life.

One good example that embodies purpose and meaning is that of renowned primatologist Jane Goodall whose childhood dream of living among wild animals ignited her passion to dedicate her life to humanitarian work. Despite being an unusual calling for a young lady in the 1930s, Goodall was adamant about saving up for a round-trip passage to Africa where she could deepen her knowledge about wild chimpanzees. Her admirable sense of meaning and purpose drove her to work tirelessly to establish the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977 which has laid the foundation to “improve global understanding and treatment of great apes through research, education and advocacy and to contribute to the preservation of these animals and their habitats”. Furthermore, Goodall’s life story has also inspired many others to extend the benefits of conservation to the community and the environment; the Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots programme is an excellent example which challenges youth members to identify the problems plaguing their societies and empowers them to put into action the solutions that they have come up with.

With compassion and charity

Another equally important value that we have to uphold is to live life with compassion and charity. Acts of kindness and generosity have the power to make significant differences even to the most under-privileged and set in motion a virtuous cycle that uplifts the generations after. A good example is Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus whose ground-breaking microcredit system helped to extend credit to nearly 7 million of the world’s poor, many of whom were Bangladeshi women who used the money to start small businesses, buy livestock or finance their children’s education. Unlike conventional banking systems that required collaterals that the poor could not offer, Professor Yunus’ initiative was a lifeline that created a legacy of socioeconomic change for the underprivileged. Evidently, these values of compassion and empathy have given them strength and courage to pursue their ideals and to stand up for what they truly believe in.

Closer to home, yet another humbling example is Singaporean Dr Tan Lai Yong who spent 14 years serving as a medical aid worker in rural Yunnan, China. In an interview with the Straits Times in 2010, Dr Tan said that he uprooted his family from a comfortable life in Singapore in 1996 to move to mountainous Yunnan, with their 16-month-old daughter, simply because he did not wish to “just be like the next doctor”; he found his calling when a non-profit organization in Yunnan advertised a position for a medical practitioner to train local doctors in rural areas. During his stint in China, Dr Tan trained some 500 doctors in impoverished villages to carry out vaccinations, dress wounds, diagnose common ailments and balance their books. He also treated the orphaned, disabled and leprous. Apart from his regular teaching duties at the local medical college in the city, Dr Tan also visited the villages to offer medical treatment where there was none. Dr Tan’s compassion and readiness to serve greatly inspired the local officials, doctors and nurses to follow suit in offering medical treatment to the villagers on weekends. 7. Indeed, these examples clearly demonstrate that when the minds and hearts of many come together as one, we can create a more caring and inclusive society. From those to whom much is given, much is expected 8. As we pay tribute to these remarkable individuals who have spearheaded and implemented initiatives that have directly benefitted and inspired their communities to continue their legacy, we are reminded that we too have the capability and obligation to effect positive change in the world. Echoing this view is Bill Gates, who, when invited to speak at the Harvard Commencement Ceremony in 2007 said that because the graduates were given ‘talent, privilege and opportunity’, ‘there is almost no limit to what the world has a right to expect from (them)”; meaning that it is the obligation of those who are fortunate to have good education to give back to society. Likewise, as beneficiaries and future leaders of the world, I exhort you to pay close attention to and identify areas of interest where needs have not been met. Do explore possible opportunities and solutions through networking and collaborative efforts, and serve these needy communities with purpose, meaning, compassion and charity. In doing so, we can be considered worthy stewards of the precious legacy of our predecessors.

As future leaders, you will be serving your communities in various capacities. Be guided by the values of service and sacrifice that were aptly illustrated by the examples quoted earlier. For those of you who aspire to serve in public office through political or public institutions, observe how countries and organisations of good governance demonstrate integrity and responsibility to the community. I think there are many which are worthy examples but there are many bad examples around us. As future leaders, I think it is important if you want to effect change and positive change to the people we want to serve, we have to really go deep into good governance and spread that message. Identify good role models and learn from them. Indeed, everyone has a duty to give back to society to make it better, to create the opportunities for everyone to fulfil his or her purpose in life, and to raise the sense of dignity of everyone including the disadvantaged.

Conclusion

Over the course of the next few days, I hope that you will forge lasting friendships as you interact with and learn from one another. This is just at friendship level, but imagine the power of common good, through collective wisdom among youth, many years from now when you become leaders of the organisations that you belong to. Don’t underestimate the power of your own capabilities to do good but better still, if all of you can come together and practice your mind on how to serve people in your respective communities.

Let me commend Hwa Chong Institution for successfully organizing this Summit and I wish everyone here an enriching journey ahead.

Thank you.

N.Y.C. High School Strives for 'Authentic' Assessment - Education Week

East Side Community High School is among 48 New York schools where students complete projects to graduate—rather than take the state test.

N.Y.C. High School Strives for 'Authentic' Assessment - Education Week

East Side Community High School is among 48 New York schools where students complete projects to graduate—rather than take the state test.

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the 2015 A*Star Scholarship Award Ceremony

I first want to extend my heartiest congratulations to all 114 recipients of the A*STAR scholarships and fellowships. It is a very proud moment for you and I see many proud parents and family members, so the very heartiest congratulations to all of you.

When I was here the last time, I spoke about creating opportunities and why it was important for us to groom young Singaporeans so that we can secure the future of Singapore. Now, this is a very special year, the SG50 year when as a nation we come together to reflect on our journey as a people, how we have made progress, how our pioneers have taken us so far, and how we can continue that legacy to build a better future together.

One of the fundamental aspects of our progress is our belief that people are our greatest strength. We must create opportunities across our education system to develop everyone to be their best. It is not just about providing scholarships for a few students, but about creating opportunities for every child in Singapore. This is not easy because it takes a lot of dedication from our teachers to achieve that. Our scholars have all benefited, I believe, from the excellent schools, junior colleges and polytechnics they have been to. All of you have now been given this opportunity to develop your talent in an area that you are passionate about. Let me say a few words about how you can make an impact and why this is important.

The first way is by advancing the frontiers of knowledge. The adage “knowledge is power” is as true today as it was before, and it will be even truer in the future. Many strands of scientific knowledge were ahead of its time. When Newton came up with his Newtonian laws, I don’t think he quite anticipated the impact that it would have on the world. Similarly, till today, we are still applying the theories of quantum mechanics and Einstein’s relativity to understand the world better. In Singapore, one of our centres, the CQT, is doing very good work in this area, but its impact on the world is something that we have to explore. Also, the human genome was decoded and there was great excitement at the time that it was announced, but we are still learning how to make full use of our knowledge. I hope that our scholars will go on to advance the frontiers of knowledge and that one day, one of you will win a Nobel Prize and join the many other Nobel Laureates in the world.

The second way is to advance the frontiers of innovation. All the modern conveniences we enjoy today - in transportation, the production of goods and services, the way we live, work, learn and play - have been transformed significantly by technology. All these are made possible because of innovation, and this innovation is based on the application of knowledge in science and technology. This is in fact, the mission of ASTAR - not to replicate what the universities are doing, because the universities have specific research functions, but really to think about innovation, the application of science and technology in our daily lives, and how we can make an impact to the lives of people in Singapore, around the world and to industry. This is going to be very important for Singapore in the future. It is no longer possible to grow the economy by having more and more manpower - there is a limit because of the size of our island. Therefore, our future growth is going to be powered by a knowledge-intensive, innovation driven economy. This is where ASTAR and A*STAR scholars will play a critical role in our future. Your ability to add to this, to create a system of innovation and enterprise in Singapore to power this growth and create solutions to a whole range of problems that we are going to face and a whole range of new challenges, will be critical. Your ability to come up with solutions that will impact the world and the region will be very important. This has a lot of implications on how our students are going to approach their study. I’ll touch on that in a minute.

The third way that our ASTAR scholars can make an impact is to advance the frontiers of learning. How do you challenge yourselves to learn and be even more independent in your learning? How do you explore the new frontiers of knowledge, and think out of the box to think about innovation and the world’s problems? You can also advance the frontiers of knowledge and the frontiers of learning by creating interest among our other students to have an interest in science and technology. All of you are passionate about science and technology, otherwise you wouldn’t have taken up the ASTAR scholarship, but I hope that your lively interest and your passion for STEM can be rubbed off onto younger students so that we create a continuous stream of students with a deep interest in science and technology.

I’m glad that already many ASTAR scholars have made an impact. For example, Dr Tan Yann Chong took up the ASTAR scholarship, and while undertaking his PhD research at Stanford in Immune profiling technology Yann Chong founded Atreca, a biotech company in California. He is now in the final stage of fostering a research collaboration between Atreca and ASTAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore. Dr Lim Xinhong is another example. Just two years after completing his PhD at Stanford, Xinhong now leads a team of scientists and technicians in studying molecular mechanisms governing skin stem cells for tissue regeneration and disease. The team is also working with a major industry partner ranked within the Fortune 500. Finally, Dr Cheu Eng Yeow, also an ASTAR Graduate Scholarship recipient, conducted research at A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research, and is now a Principal Technologist at Rolls-Royce where he is doing research and development of practical computational software solutions for its business units. These are very good examples of the progress we can make if we put our minds to it.

Let me address the question of why it is so important for our ASTAR Scholars to make an impact. The first reason is simply self-actualisation. There is joy in being able to develop to your full potential, to develop your gift to the fullest, to use it to make an impact, and to do something meaningful and derive joy out of that. Hence, I am happy with the way that ASTAR institutes are working on research on cancer genetics and making a difference to the lives of people.

The second reason, and here I’m speaking as the Minister for Education, is that we all have a responsibility to continue to make Singapore successful. I must tell you, A*STAR scholars, that I have a very strong view against bond breaking, because I believe strongly that those who receive must give back. Every dollar spent on you could have been spent on someone else for another purpose. Resources are limited. Hence, for every dollar that is spent developing you, we hope that you can go on to not only develop yourselves, but come back and make an impact. In that way, we can grow the pie in Singapore together by creating more resources. Indeed, this is what has been happening in Singapore over the years. We have been very fortunate to be able to create this virtuous cycle where our focus on people and developing our people has allowed us to create more and more opportunities. Your generation has many more opportunities than my generation. I hope that in turn, when we celebrate SG100, you can look back and tell the young people that their generation has more opportunities than yours. Hence, we need you to come back and create a strong system of research, innovation, and enterprise in Singapore that allows us to continue this virtuous cycle and to continue to improve our society and our economy. This will help create an exciting future for you, and an exciting future for people elsewhere.

Thirdly, if you join hands with like-minded scientists, innovators, and policy makers around the world, we can help to contribute in small ways to help solve the world’s most major challenges and to making advances for humanity. The world today faces a huge number of important challenges - climate change, wars and terrorism that continues in many places or even basic problems of malnutrition, disease and poverty in many parts of the world. We all live on a common planet; we all have a responsibility to safeguard this fragile planet; and, we all have a responsibility to advance the cause of humanity. Societies that have made progress did so because some of the best minds dedicated themselves to advancing the lives on earth, for humanity and for all living things. If all of you do that, not only will you make Singapore valuable, but I think you will also help to solve some of these challenges.

Let me now briefly end by talking about what that means for your learning in the coming years. I hope that you learn widely, because a lot of these problems and challenges in the world will need a range of multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary solutions. One of the jokes about doing a PhD is that you know more and more about less and less. I hope that you do not fall into that trap! Research work is intense and therefore you do need to drill deep into something, but I hope that that process of delving deep into something and doing a deep dive into something also trains you to have some peripheral vision and that you can look at the issues that are relevant. Indeed, if you want to be innovative and if you want to make new discoveries, you need a curiosity about the world, and not just about the specific subject that you are studying.

I also hope that you take the time to make friends with people from all over the world, because the intersection of different cultures allows us to appreciate different perspectives better. Those perspectives help us work with people around the world better, and we can join causes and make further advances together.

This is a rather long speech. I don’t know how much you can remember of what I said. If you cannot remember everything I hope you can remember just these few words: ‘make an impact’ and ‘give back’.

On that note, thank you very much.

Career Prep Moves Into Middle Schools - Education Week

It's not just about career fairs anymore; educators are increasingly looking to provide middle school students with deeper, ongoing exposure to potential careers.

Career Prep Moves Into Middle Schools - Education Week

It's not just about career fairs anymore; educators are increasingly looking to provide middle school students with deeper, ongoing exposure to potential careers.

Extending subsidies to families of children with dyslexia

Response

Over the years, a range of provisions targeted at language and literacy support, including dyslexia remediation, have been made available to students in mainstream and government-funded Special Education (SPED) schools.

The MOE-Aided Dyslexia Association of Singapore Literacy Programme is one example and this Programme is specifically designed to meet the needs of mainstream school students with no other special educational needs. The financial assistance scheme for this Programme is thus provided only to eligible mainstream school students.

SPED schools have various programmes in place to provide customised literacy support for their students. For example, since 2011, MOE has worked closely with all SPED schools to implement the Direct Instruction (DI) Reading and Oral Language Programme to help students gain a stronger foundation in literacy. Another example is Pathlight School’s Literacy Remediation Programme (LRP) for their students with Autism Spectrum Disorder who are diagnosed with dyslexia or who are observed by their teachers to have reading challenges. Such customised literacy support programmes are offered at no additional cost to parents and are supported by Government’s per capita funding for SPED schools, which is substantially higher than that for mainstream schools as it takes into account the higher resourcing needs of SPED schools.

Moving forward, MOE will continue to work closely with SPED schools to support students who require customised literacy support.

Renaming the Institute Of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) to the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

The Ministry of Education (MOE) will be tabling the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies [ISEAS] (Amendment) Bill for its Second Reading in Parliament.

The Bill primarily seeks to effect the renaming of the Institute to the “ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute”, as announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the 2014 National Day Rally. This is to honour Mr Yusof Ishak’s significant contribution to the nation’s development, especially in his role as the first President of Singapore through Singapore’s difficult early years. One of the preeminent figures in our pioneer generation, Mr Yusof stood for the values that underpin Singapore’s success - meritocracy, multiculturalism, and modernisation. His efforts built the belief that each group, whether majority or minority, had a stake in the success of the nation, and that together, they could build a future for them and their children.

The renaming will come into effect on 12 August 2015, the 105th anniversary of Mr Yusof’s birth.

Background on the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Established in 1968, ISEAS has grown to be a reputable research centre and think tank dedicated to the study of socio-political, security, and economic developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment. Today, it continues to bring together researchers from the region and beyond to study and foster a deeper understanding of issues pertaining to Southeast Asia.

Institute Of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) (Amendment) Bill Second Reading Speech

Madam Speaker, I beg to move, “That the Bill be now read a second time”.

Introduction

The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) (Amendment) Bill seeks primarily to effect the renaming of ISEAS as the “ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute”, as announced by the Prime Minister at the 2014 National Day Rally.

The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

ISEAS was established by the Government in 1968, to fill a vital need for a deeper understanding of the region. At that time, decolonisation was just ending. The newly-independent countries of Southeast Asia knew that regional integration was critical for survival, and on our part, Singapore had to find a place in a region that was beginning to find its way forward, away from colonial rule.

Since then, ISEAS has grown to be a reputable research centre and think tank dedicated to the study of socio-political, security and economic developments in Southeast Asia and its wider geostrategic and economic environment. ISEAS continues to play an important regional role in nurturing scholarship and capacity building, providing insights on key issues and events. ISEAS’ efforts in developing a network of relationships help deepen understanding among policy makers and scholars within the region and beyond.

Encik Yusof Ishak and his Contributions to Singapore

We are proud to have ISEAS bear Encik Yusof Ishak’s name. Encik Yusof was one of Singapore’s pioneering leaders as the Yang di-Pertuan Negara and the first President of Singapore. His contributions, along with those of early Malay pioneers such as Mr Othman Wok, were critical to the success of our then-fledging nation-state, and continue to be a source of pride for our Malay community and our nation today. His convictions and life’s work resonate strongly with ISEAS’s foundational tenets, and it is befitting that his name will be borne by ISEAS.

Madam Speaker, here I would like to share a few words from Encik Yusof, in Malay. “Perpaduan kaum amat penting bagi kita. Masa depan Republik kita bergantung pada perpaduan dan kerjasama di kalangan semua kaum - dengan aspirasi dan objektif yang sama, untuk menjadikan Singapura sebuah negara yang berjaya dan makmur.”

These words reflect Encik Yusof’s firm belief that racial unity is a crucial tenet to Singapore’s success, and encapsulate Encik Yusof’s key message to Singaporeans during our early years of independence. Singapore did not always enjoy the peace and prosperity that we do now. Our independence came suddenly. Our early years were fraught with bouts of unrest, driven by both internal and external forces. Encik Yusof, as our first President, played a key role to help restore trust and confidence amongst Singaporeans during this time that saw events that shook the nation, such as the 1964 racial riots.

One of the foundational principles is that our people are our greatest strength. We must understand, respect and value each person, regardless of race or religion. Encik Yusof lived out this principle throughout his tenure as President. His tireless visits to each constituency, and his countless outreaches to various racial and religious groups to share his vision and message, are testament to this. In his obituary speech to Encik Yusof Ishak, our Founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew described Encik Yusof as “a deeply religious man, but who did not allow his religion to hinder his relationship with non-Muslims, whether they were Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Confucians, or atheists”. Mr Lee described Encik Yusof as a man who stood for our multi-racial policies and believed in policies to modernise our society.

We are very fortunate that Encik Yusof was Singapore’s Head of State at our founding moment. That he embodied our sovereignty assured our pioneer generation of Malays that they have a place in Singapore - he assured all races that this would be home for all. This would not be a Chinese nation or a Malay nation or an Indian nation; this would be a Singaporean Singapore, as our founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew had declared. President Yusof was the living personification of that promise. And he dedicated himself to fulfilling that promise, to the benefit of us all today. Because our pioneer generation of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians decided to make common cause with one another, we were able to remain a multi-racial nation.

Encik Yusof was a steadfast guide for Singapore throughout our early years. Our early leaders had to navigate numerous pressing issues, such as labour unrest, communal discord, and the urgent need to grow our economy and create jobs. They were keenly aware that solutions to these needed to be buttressed by knowledge of regional developments. ISEAS, established a mere three years after our independence, has helped to deepen our understanding of our politically-volatile region. It has strengthened ties amongst regional scholars, and built up a body of knowledge on developments in Southeast Asia.

Our success today has been built by pioneering leaders such as Encik Yusof, and institutions such as ISEAS that have helped to inform our leaders’ policy decisions. The foundation for a strong nation is true today as in the past — peace and stability based on mutual understanding, within Singapore and beyond. Today, regional and geopolitical realities are even more complex. The strategic framework in Asia is evolving, and Southeast Asian countries are accelerating and deepening their integration. Understanding Singapore’s place in the economic, cultural and political context of the region remains crucial to our continued success and existence. As we celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday, and honour the outstanding men and women who have shaped our nation and wrought our successes, it is fitting and timely to pay tribute to Encik Yusof through the renaming of ISEAS in his honour.

The ISEAS (Amendment) Bill

The ISEAS (Amendment) Bill provides for this renaming. It also provides for amendments to update the ISEAS Act.

Let me now highlight the key clauses in this Bill.

  • Clauses 2 to 5 and Clauses 12 to 14 effect the renaming of the Institute as “ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute”, by amending the ISEAS Act and other legislation to reflect the new name. These clauses will come into effect on 12 August 2015, the 105th anniversary of Encik Yusof’s birth.
  • Clauses 6 to 11 seek to update the ISEAS Act and will come into effect on 1 November 2015. Specifically,
    • Clause 6 streamlines the composition of the ISEAS Board from 22 to 15 members, and updates appointment authorities for the Board. Clause 7 accordingly reduces the quorum for the Board to 5 members, in line with the smaller size of the Board.
    • Clause 8 removes section 7 relating to the Secretary of the Board, as it is no longer relevant.
    • Clauses 9 to 11 update financial provisions.
    • Clause 11 also inserts new sections to protect relevant ISEAS personnel from harassment and personal liability in the performance of their duties.
Conclusion

In closing, I would like to share Encik Yusof’s exhortation to a young Singapore during our national celebrations 50 years ago. Madam Speaker, in Malay.

“Adalah menjadi hasrat kita untuk mewujudkan sebuah masyarakat yang lebih adil dan saksama. Di dalamnya, semua rakyat yang setia tanpa mengira bangsa, budaya dan agama dijamin tempatnya. Dengan mendapat peluang yang sama dalam setiap aspek kehidupan, mereka boleh membangunkan personaliti mereka dengan sepenuhnya, yang juga bermakna bahawa mereka boleh memberikan sumbangan yang terbaik kepada masyarakat. … Saya yakin, semua rakyat kita dari semua lapisan masyarakat akan mengakui dengan tegas dan mendedikasikan diri mereka kepada pembinaan sebuah masyarakat berbilang kaum yang bebas, kuat dan bersatu.”

Let me share this in English. “It is our intention to establish a more just and equal society. In it, all loyal citizens regardless of race, culture and religion are assured of a place. With equal opportunities in every sphere of life they can develop their personalities to the fullest, which also means that they can give of their best to society. … I am confident that all our citizens from all walks of life will on this day reaffirm and re-dedicate themselves to the building of a free, strong, united and multi-racial society.”

Madam Speaker, I beg to move.

Scholarships awarded to international students

Response

The annual number of scholarships awarded to international students at the undergraduate level has come down in recent years. Since 2012, about 900 such scholarships are awarded each year.

The scholarships include school fees, and typically include accommodation and some allowances. The annual cost per scholarship is about $25,000 on average.

Private education institutions (PEIs)

Response

The Private Education Act (“the Act”) was enacted in 2009 with the primary aim of protecting the interests of students, by setting basic standards in corporate and academic governance, strengthening student fee protection measures, and requiring private education institutions (PEIs) to disclose key information on courses and teachers.

Any PEI that has been found to have contravened the requirements of the Act can have its registration period shortened, suspended or cancelled. Since 2009, CPE has received a total of 526 complete applications for renewal of registration, of which 8 were rejected. Separately, 4 PEIs have had their registrations cancelled because of regulatory contraventions.

Details of regulatory actions that are taken against PEIs have been published on CPE’s website since 2011, and further enhancements have been made recently. Details of enforcement action taken are now published directly under the PEI’s profile page on CPE’s website, in addition to the separate section on enforcement actions. Former names of PEIs are also published along with their current names, so that the public will be able to find information pertaining to the track record of a PEI even if it has changed its company name.

Besides taking regulatory action, CPE engages students and parents through consumer education and student support initiatives. As part of its outreach efforts, CPE participates in fairs and talks targeted at students from local post-secondary education institutions. In 2013, it collaborated with the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s Career Guidance Branch to incorporate links to student guides developed by CPE on the Education and Career Guidance online portal, such as the “Guide for Choosing a Private Education Institution”. In the same year, CPE also implemented a “Student Advisories” section within its website to publish cautionary announcements and information that prospective students should take note of before choosing an institution.

CPE continues to work on enhancing its consumer education efforts to help prospective students and parents to make more informed choices.

International students on scholarships

Response

Since 2012, about 68% of international students on undergraduate scholarships have graduated with second upper class honours or better. This is comparable to the performance of Singaporean scholarship holders studying at the local universities. It is also higher than the overall percentage of students graduating with second upper class honours or better, which is about 38%.

Mr Yee asked how these figures compare with that of PSC scholars. There is no good basis for comparing as the number of PSC scholars is extremely small and they undertake their studies in a variety of top-tier universities, both local and overseas.

The basic grade that the international scholars have to meet in order to maintain their scholarships is a cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.5 out of 5 for NUS, NTU and SUTD, and 3.4 out of 4 for SMU. This is commensurate with what is required of Singaporean scholarship holders studying at these universities. These criteria strike a careful balance between encouraging students to achieve certain standards in academic work, while giving them the time and space to learn deeply and widely through a variety of activities.

Foreign students

Response

In 2014, around 3,650 international students in the 2014 matriculation cohort in the polytechnics and autonomous universities received the tuition grant. Upon graduation, international students work in Singapore to supplement our labour force.

Faculty-level employment information for international students is not readily available. However, on average, 8 in 10 international students who received tuition grant in our polytechnics and autonomous universities are either working in Singapore after graduation, or have been granted approval by MOE to defer their service obligation to pursue further studies. For the remaining international students, some are in the midst of seeking deferment approval, and some are still seeking employment.

For those who face difficulty in finding employment and need guidance, they can approach the career centre or alumni office in the institutions for career guidance. The career office or alumni office provides guidance to their students and graduates on career preparation and job search, job opportunities advertised through the institutions, and other related employment resources. This service is available to all students and graduates from the respective institutions.

International students who have received the tuition grant and are seeking employment in Singapore after graduation can apply for a one-year Long-Term Visit Pass with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.

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