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Ex-Governors in S.C. Join Push for Civic Education - Education Week

Three former South Carolina governors are pushing for high school students to take the test immigrants must pass to become U.S. citizens.

Texas Limiting Influence of AP History Course - Education Week

Amid an uproar in conservative circles about perceived anti-American bias in the new Advanced Placement U.S. History course and exam, Texas moved last week to require its high school students to learn only state-mandated curriculum.

L.A. District Finds Use of iPad Curriculum Limited - Education Week

In the first formal evaluation of the troubled iPads-for-all project in Los Angeles schools, only one teacher out of 245 classrooms visited was using the costly online curriculum.

Federal Agency Urges Halt to Methanol Use for Science - Education Week

A federal agency last week urged museums and schools to stop using flammable chemicals in their fire-based science demonstrations after a flash fire injured 13 people at a museum in Reno, Nev.

College Aid - Education Week

A new report shows many colleges are using Pell Grants to replace their own institutional grants and often not providing enough support to make attending college affordable for many disadvantaged students.

Harvard-MIT Partnership Opens MOOCs for High Schoolers - Education Week

Students looking to prepare for Advanced Placement exams, or simply expand their academic knowledge, now have free access to an array of classes.

Mass. Technical Schools Turning Students Away - Education Week

A study has found that many vocational and technical high schools in Massachusetts have long waiting lists for students seeking admission.

Better Ways, Better Ideas, Better Tools To Support Teachers And Schools

Ministry Of Education Feed - 23 September 2014

The Ministry of Education (MOE) will support teachers and schools to deepen the culture of improving, innovating, co-creating and sharing of effective teaching resources and process innovations. By supporting this culture, MOE hopes to create time and space for our teachers and schools to deliver more impactful learning experiences and achieve better education outcomes for our students.

Process Innovations

Schools have been developing a culture of improving and innovating on processes by harnessing technology. Some schools, for example, have tapped on technology for attendance taking so that attendance for the day can be updated more effortlessly and expediently.

MOE has also started to centrally identify effective process innovations and other best practices started by schools, for the purpose of scaling these solutions across schools. Examples include:

  • e-MEAL Coupon System (eMCS). MOE adapted an e-system developed by Blangah Rise Primary School where students on the school breakfast programme simply scanned their student smartcard against a card reader installed at each canteen stall. The cost of the meal will automatically be captured in the system. This is in place of hardcopy coupons that were previously issued to these students.

  • Enhanced School Store Management System (ESSMS). MOE studied best practices in the logistics industry and developed the ESSMS to help all schools improve store management practices. This involves the use of bar coding to tag school assets, so that assets can be more easily identified and tracked using bar-code scanners in regular checks and annual stock taking. It also helps schools to maintain an up-to-date list of school assets, which can be viewed on a web-based system. Teachers and school staff no longer need to manually count and update the list of equipment under their charge.

MOE will provide more centralised support to schools in finance and procurement. MOE will be introducing Finance Partners, with each Finance Partner providing dedicated support to a cluster of schools for more complex finance and procurement matters. The Finance Partners will also identify and share best practices across schools.

Quality Digital Teaching and Learning Resources

A Student Learning Space (SLS) - an online integrated learning space - will provide both teachers and students access to quality digital teaching and learning resources. It will consolidate the resources produced by MOE, teachers in schools or curated from other sources, curated by MOE and aligned to the national curriculum. The SLS will be implemented in all primary and secondary schools, junior colleges and centralised institute progressively, starting from 2016.

The SLS will enhance our teachers’ delivery of lessons and create opportunities for their professional development through learning online from others. Through the SLS, teachers may create and share new teaching resources with one another to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their teaching. Subject-based teaching tools will be available to guide teachers in designing activities for students to develop inquiry and problem-solving skills. Teachers can also monitor students’ e-Portfolios and provide feedback on students’ learning progress.

The SLS will thus engage students more deeply in learning. For example, a student can find learning materials to help him understand a concept better, and use the collaborative tools provided to hold a discussion with his classmates and teacher on the materials to further his learning.

MOE will continue to actively harness quality teaching and learning resources and spread IT innovations widely across schools, so that our teachers can grow to be more effective and deliver better student outcomes, and in so doing, bring out the best in every child.

Growing Our Teachers, Building Our Nation

Ministry Of Education Feed - 23 September 2014

Teachers play an important role in building our nation by bringing out the best in every child. The Ministry of Education (MOE) will further strengthen efforts to grow our teachers by providing opportunities at every stage and in every way to deepen their skills and expertise. Through this, MOE aims to strengthen a culture of learning among our teaching force, a culture of teachers growing teachers, and in the process, nurture a pipeline of teacher leaders who are accomplished in their profession and able to lead fellow educators.

Strengthening Training for Beginning Teachers and Deepening Mentoring Capacity in Schools

MOE will strengthen the support for the development of Beginning Teachers. Pre-service training at NIE and the subsequent mentoring for Beginning Teachers will be more tightly integrated. Beginning Teachers will be given more time and space to learn on the job, benefit from mentorship, and hone their craft.

MOE will strengthen the quality of mentoring in schools by:

  • Developing a course for all mentors to strengthen their mentoring skills; and
  • Strengthening manpower support for schools so that mentors have the space and time to coach their younger colleagues.
Growing Educators’ Expertise through Specialisation

MOE will create more opportunities for specialisation for teachers in the primary schools and support educators who want to deepen their expertise.

First, MOE will strengthen the expertise and skills of our lower primary (Primary 1 and 2) teachers in working with younger children. This could be through an inaugural NIE Advanced Diploma in Teaching Early Primary School Years, which began its run this August, or through a network learning community that has been set up for these teachers. Lower primary teachers will be better equipped to cater to younger students’ socio-emotional learning needs, and ease their transition from pre-school to primary education.

Second, MOE is moving towards subject specialisation in the teaching of primary English, Math and Science through the training and deployment of our primary school teachers. To develop deeper content mastery and pedagogical skills, MOE will provide support through in-service courses for content and skills-upgrading in English, Math and Science. The pre-service training for new primary school teachers will also be reviewed to focus on building a strong foundation in two subject areas instead of three. This will allow primary school teachers to develop deeper content mastery and more effective teaching methods so that they can design engaging lessons that lead to better learning for their students.

Third, MOE continues to enhance the knowledge and skills of our teachers, the Allied Educators (Learning and Behavioural Support) [AEDs(LBS)] as well as educators in Special Education (SPED) schools in supporting students with special educational needs. This includes the implementation of a revised NIE programme in special needs for our teachers this March, and the NIE inaugural Advanced Diploma in Special Education in August for AEDs (LBS) and SPED educators.

Developing Teacher Leaders

To enable our more experienced teachers to continue to grow in their job, AST and schools will continue to facilitate various platforms and programmes such as Professional Learning Communities in schools and other cluster and zonal level learning platforms.

MOE will grow the Subject Chapters or professional networks established by the various teachers’ academies and language centres and led by a core team of the best and most inspiring Master, Lead, and Senior teachers and Specialists from MOE and NIE to further deepen the knowledge and skills of teachers in respective disciplines or learning domains. These learning networks enhance teachers’ curriculum depth, pedagogical skills and assessment literacy, and provide opportunities for teachers to share, collaborate and co-develop new and better ways of teaching.

To widen the reach and impact of highly skilled teachers in lifting up the practice of the entire teaching fraternity, MOE will continue to develop and appoint more Principal Master Teachers, Master Teachers, Lead Teachers, and Senior Teachers in recognition of their key roles in leading professional learning and in deepening the culture of teachers growing teachers. In this regard, MOE will work with schools and clusters to actively encourage more teachers to deepen their skills and take up these appointments.

Appointed Senior Teachers and Lead Teachers have the opportunity to attend Teacher Leaders Programme which is designed to further deepen their professional knowledge and skills. MOE will look to raising the apex grade for the teaching track to recognise the national role of Master Teachers in developing and raising the competencies of the entire teaching service.

MOE will continue to strengthen professional development opportunities and support our teachers to be lifelong learners, so that they too can be role models of lifelong learning for our students. With more skilful, caring and effective teachers in every school, we will be able to bring out the best in every child.

Nurturing Early Learners Framework for Mother Tongue Languages - Chinese, Malay and Tamil Versions Now Available

Ministry Of Education Feed - 20 September 2014

The Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Framework for Mother Tongue Languages (MTLs) is now available in Chinese, Malay and Tamil. This was announced by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Education, Ms Indranee Rajah, at the Early Childhood Conference 2014 on 20 September 2014.

With the Framework available in Chinese, Malay and Tamil, MTL early childhood educators are able to better access, relate and use the Framework as core reference when reviewing, planning and implementing their MTL curriculum. These versions contain the same information as the English version which was launched in 2013.

More about the NEL Framework for MTLs

The NEL Curriculum provides a comprehensive tool kit of kindergarten curriculum resources for use by early childhood educators in Singapore.

The NEL Framework for MTLs is part of this curriculum. It serves as a guide to the teaching and learning of the three official MTLs in Singapore, articulating a broad set of vision, objectives, learning goals and guiding principles for MTL teaching and learning.

The guiding principles help early childhood educators translate the Framework into practice, providing support in their planning and implementation of their MTL curriculum, and in their observation and evaluation of their students’ MTL learning progress. For example, the Framework sets out MTL learning goals that every child should achieve by the end of Kindergarten 2 when they participate in a pre-school MTL programme.

Supporting MTL Early Childhood Educators

To complement and encourage adoption of the NEL Framework for MTLs, MOE is developing Educators’ Guides for each of the MTLs. We are also working with ECDA to organise training to help MTL early childhood educators apply the Framework. Training will start with principals, supervisors and senior teachers from end 2014, moving on to courses for MTL educators subsequently.

The NEL Framework for MTLs in all four languages can be accessed at http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/preschool/.

Speech by Ms Indranee Rajah at the Early Childhood Development Agency’s Early Childhood Conference 2014

Ministry Of Education Feed - 20 September 2014
Introduction

Good morning. I am pleased to join you here on the second day of the Early Childhood Conference. I am glad to see so many early childhood professionals and parents coming together to learn and network with one another.

As the theme for our conference this year goes: ”The Incredible Early Years: Supporting Young Children’s Development„, We share a common goal in bringing out the best in every child. With ECDA, early childhood professionals, and parents working closely together, we can create the right environment for our children to thrive and learn.

Yesterday, Minister Chan Chun Sing outlined various initiatives to develop and recognise early childhood professionals at each stage of their careers. In particular, he announced that ECDA will work with industry partners over the next year to further develop structured pathways for professionals in the sector. As the ASPIRE Chairperson, I see this as a very positive development. By obtaining the right skills and experience, educators can look forward to multiple pathways to progress on the job.

ECDA’s role in Supporting Professionals and Parents

Early childhood is a key period for learning and development. Young children learn best when they are given the time and space to play, explore and ask questions. Nurturing a love for learning and supporting their holistic development is key. Learning should be age appropriate and fun. It is important to allow children to develop at their own pace.

Parents and educators play a crucial role through their many interactions with children throughout their development. In particular, studies show that the more parents and educators share information about their child’s learning, the better children do, as parents can support their children at home in ways that complement what they learn in pre-school.1

Today, allow me to share how we will provide more support to both educators in their professional development and parents in their parenting journey. I will touch on 4 key ways we will be doing this:

  • First, Hands-On, Interactive Parental Workshops
  • Second, More Online Parenting Resources
  • Third, More Curriculum Resources for mother tongue pre-school teachers
  • Fourth, Better Information for Parents in selection of pre-schools through a new SPARK Category.

Many of us own at least one electronic device and we have more knowledge at our fingertips than ever before. The flood of different messages can be daunting. Which is credible? What research should we trust? Both pre-school and home environments are crucial and as parents and educators, the line between what is and isn’t developmentally appropriate sometimes becomes blurred.

National Early Childhood Parenting Study

As such, over the past year, ECDA, in collaboration with SIM University, conducted the first national early childhood parenting study. Some of you here today may be among the 3,800 parents who took part. Overall, the findings were positive. Allow me to share some of them with you.

Parents in Singapore are knowledgeable about child development. 90% indicated that they consider all developmental domains, from the physical to social and moral, important for their children’s development. It is also heartening that parents value their children’s happiness and character development over material achievements such as academic success. For their top two choices, almost all parents said that they want their children to be gracious and caring to others whereas only seven out of ten parents said that they want their children to excel academically.

We are also glad that most parents felt that they can trust and rely on educators as important sources of information. ECDA has organised professional development workshops to help educators develop the skill sets needed to effectively engage parents. Likewise, parents can also exchange ideas and techniques with educators, and partner them to better support the diverse needs of their children.

Hands-On, Interactive Parental Workshops

In view of these findings, I am pleased to announce that ECDA will encourage more of such collaboration by working with centres to roll out hands-on, interactive workshops for parents. These workshops will cover topics where parents feel they need more help. For example, more than a third surveyed in the Parenting Study said that they needed help coping more specifically with their children’s temper tantrums. Through these workshops, educators could share proper techniques to manage children’s behaviour.

These workshops will add to existing platforms for parents and educators to collaborate. There are already good efforts by our pre-schools. For example, PCF Choa Chu Kang (Blk 786), a winner of this year’s ECDA Innovation Award for their project ”Kindergarten Classroom Visit„, invites parents and caregivers every term to view their children’s work and meaningfully engage with teachers to better understand their children’s progress and development.

More Online Parenting Resources

Second, ECDA will develop more online resources, such as videos, on useful topics set within Singapore’s context. For example, the Parenting Study revealed that parents could use more ideas on how to support their children’s social and emotional development. To address this, the online resources could share activities parents could do with their children and other creative family bonding ideas.

These resources will complement the suite of print, mobile and web-based resources launched at last year’s Early Childhood Parenting Conference. One of the resources launched last year was the quarterly Beanstalk Magazine. We have since produced 4 issues, shown in the slide here, and more than 170,000 copies have been distributed to parents. I believe many of you would have received it from your child’s kindergarten or child care centre.

We also launched our mobile app, APParent in SG. This app shares useful tips each week such as bonding activities for parents and children. It has received more than 4,500 downloads to date. In addition, the Grow@Beanstalk portal serves as a one-stop portal with ready-to-use ideas, such as how to strengthen parent-child communication.

Community partnerships to support parents and educators

In addition to parent-specific resources, we also want to create more common spaces that can be used by both parents and educators. The Singapore Science Centre has created KidsStop, a dedicated new space for children to engage in hands-on experimentation. The National Museum of Singapore has also created Play@National Museum of Singapore for children to explore our heritage and culture.

ECDA has collaborated with community partners in the development and implementation of unique programmes for children and educators. For example, ECDA’s Guidance Project, ”The Electric Corner„, by the Singapore Science Centre, teaches children the fundamentals of scientific inquiry through the topic of electricity. Yet another project, ”Singapore’s Little Treasures„, by the National Heritage Board involves the creation of a discovery bag of specially curated artefacts for pre-schoolers, which developed children’s awareness and knowledge of Singapore’s rich history and multi-cultural heritage. We would like to thank the Singapore Science Centre and National Heritage Board for working in partnership with ECDA and look forward to your continuing support!

Curriculum Resources for Mother-tongue pre-school teachers

Third, I am also happy to announce we will continue to enhance our curriculum resources for mother-tougue pre-school teachers. Last year, I launched the Nurturing Early Learners Framework for Mother Tongue Languages at this conference, and I am pleased to know that it is now translated into the Chinese, Malay and Tamil Languages.. The Framework, accompanied by an Educators’ Guide and teaching and learning resources, form a complete tool kit of kindergarten curriculum resources for mother-tongue pre-school teachers. Educators will be able to use these resources to build children’s foundational language skills and nurture their holistic development. ECDA will work closely with MOE to provide training for the use of this Framework in 2015.

Better Information for Parents in Selection of Pre-schools

Beyond providing specific resources to parents and educators, ECDA strives to enhance the quality, affordability and accessibility of early childhood services across the board. I am glad to note that there has been much progress.

  • Two weeks ago, ECDA launched the new child care Registration Management System to bring greater convenience to parents and operators.
  • 16 more child care centres will be developed in the coming months by ECDA-appointed anchor operators.
  • More lower- and middle-income families will also be able to benefit from the enhanced Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme, or KiFAS, from January next year.

Fourth, I am pleased to announce today that ECDA will introduce a new Commendation Category for SPARK-certification to provide parents with better information in the selection of pre-schools. The Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework, or SPARK, is a voluntary accreditation framework that provides pre-schools with quality benchmarks and guides their improvement efforts. We expect around 380 pre-schools to be SPARK-certified by the end of the year. In fact, some just received their SPARK certification yesterday.

The Commendation Category for SPARK-Certification will recognise centres with strong teaching and learning practices. This will help parents more easily identify which pre-schools have key traits that stimulate children’s development. These include, for example, a well-designed and integrated curriculum, strong teaching pedagogies, and a conducive learning environment.

Conclusion

Allow me to conclude. ECDA will continue to enhance our parenting resources to keep them relevant and meaningful. We are committed to design better platforms for educators and parents to exchange knowledge and skills. We will continue to support educators to do their jobs well. Together, let us enjoy the incredible early years of our children.

With this, I wish all of you a fruitful and engaging conference. Thank you.

Footnote
  1. Sylva, Melhuish, Sammons, Siraj-Blatchford, Taggard, Elliot (2003). ”The Effective Provision of Pre-school Education (EPPE) Project: Findings from the Pre-school Period„. http://www.ioe.ac.uk/RB_summary_findings_from_pre-school(1).pdf

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the Welcome Dinner of the Singapore Summit 2014

Ministry Of Education Feed - 19 September 2014
Of Nutmegs, Ideas, and an Island Called Singapore Introduction

Mr George Yeo, Singapore Summit Conference Chair, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to Singapore and to the 3rd Singapore Summit. I am very pleased to see so many friends and so many leaders in the various industries coming together to explore ideas and opportunities.

A Lesson from the Humble Nutmeg

It has been six years since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008, which was triggered by problems of excessive credit growth and over-priced assets, especially in the US property market. As we continue to reflect on the lessons learnt from this tumultuous event, I am reminded of a story a friend sent me about the world’s most valuable properties in the early 17th century. These were the islands in the Banda Sea, in today’s Indonesia, and the most valuable were Pulau Ai and Pulau Run. Pulau is the Malay word for island.

The islands drew the fortune seekers at that time for one and only one reason: a spice called nutmeg. Nutmeg was, in the words of a contemporary observer, the ‘most coveted luxury in 17th century Europe’. A recent American radio programme in the US explained that nutmeg “was fashionable among the wealthy. It was exotic and potent enough to induce hallucinations”. And trade in it was highly lucrative - profit margins were reportedly up to 60,000%.

For over a hundred and fifty years, the maritime powers of the day fought over these islands, starting with the Portuguese who came in 1511, then the Dutch and the English. Rivalry between the English and Dutch was fierce, and the islands changed hands twice. When the Dutch seized the island Run in 1665, the English retaliated and took New Amsterdam in North America. Two years later, they negotiated a peace treaty. The English gave up both Pulau Ai and Pulau Run, and in return, got a small trading post with less than 1000 people - really nothing compared to the riches of nutmegs produced in these two islands. Do you think it was a good deal? Nobody did at the time. But guess what this trading post was? Well - it was Manhattan Island - yes, New York.

Today, nutmeg is just another commodity, and the two islands are sleepy atolls. And New York - well, it’s New York!

What is the point of my story? There are several.

First, trade is an enormously important part of the growth story, indeed in the advancement of mankind. In the continuing rivalry between the maritime powers, Singapore too became a trading outpost for the British East India Company in 1824. Right from its early days, Singapore benefited greatly from open and free trade, including the spice trade. Singapore was for centuries an emporium of the world, thriving in the trade of physical goods, and a key node in the Maritime Silk Road.

Second, the nutmeg story is an instructive lesson about the basis for sustainable economic development. An agricultural commodity like nutmeg has limited supply, which fluctuated with the broader economic cycle and climatic conditions. To win the economic race, the players sought to control the supply, by dominating the lands, suppressing the natives and keeping rivals out. It was a zero-sum game, and often a brutal exercise. But the fervour over a single product could not last - it was also subject to changing tastes, fads and the challenge of new and better products.

The contrast between the fortunes of Pulau Run and that of New York could not have been starker. New York flourished when the ideas of the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution that started in England, reached the US. It was the story of migration and entrepreneurship, of free markets, of ideas and technology that created a new wave of prosperity, and which transformed the global economy. New York’s model of development, driven by ideas and an embracing vision, is constantly now being played out.

For 200 years from 1750, starting with the Industrial Revolution until the 1950s, the economies in Europe and the US took off. While this was punctuated by WW I and WW II, and the Great Depression, standards of living rose dramatically. After WW II, the enlightened American policy of not punishing the vanquished, but instead helping them to re-build their economies through the Marshal Plan, ushered in a period of prosperity in Western Europe. GATT (and later WTO) was conceived in 1947 out of the vision that greater cooperation in trade enables all to prosper.

In the rest of the world, the post-1950 period saw many colonies fight off the yoke of colonialism. A few made the right decision to embrace global capitalism, plugged themselves into the global economy and prospered. Singapore, which had always kept itself open to the world, was one of those few Asian countries which narrowed the income gap with the West. The success of these “dragons” encouraged many more, including the “tigers” and then China and other developing nations, to join the global grid. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty.

Implications for the Challenges Today

When I joined the world of central banking in 2006, it was a time of optimism and even exuberance. Central banks around the world were expressing quiet confidence in our ability to engineer stable growth and low inflation.

But the GFC of 2008 had a great dampening effect. Confidence and optimism has been replaced by uncertainty and doubt. In world trade, the DOHA round is stuck. All around the world, people began to question the benefits of globalisation and the Financial Times ran a series of articles on the “Crisis of Capitalism”. US businesses still sit on vast amounts of cash relative to what they could have invested - a considerable war chest, but investment has been moribund for an extended period and is only now showing tentative signs of life. In emerging markets, the earlier euphoria has been tempered by a more sober analysis of growth prospects.

But I am also encouraged by the more positive developments - the advances in ICT, in robotics, nanotechnology, genetic engineering renewal energies and the exploitation of shale gas. The US manufacturing sector has recovered quite remarkably, with higher productivity.

The other reason for cautious optimism is that, gradually but surely, policy-makers around the world are beginning to take structural reforms to heart. From economic restructuring in China and Europe, to Abenomics’ third arrow, and the recent pledges made in the run-up to the Indian and Indonesian elections, we can see the desire for change. If there is one lesson to be learnt from dealing with the consequences of the GFC, it is that real, sustainable growth can only come from the hard and continual work of restructuring, and ultimately from productivity growth.

Ideas, Rules and Cooperation

In looking at the supply-side and structural changes relevant for securing sustainable growth, three big factors come to mind.

  • First, ideas matter. Certainly, ideas that make for a better world, ideas from the East and West, from humanities and the sciences, from the abstract to the practical. Ideas that should be shared freely. But also ideas that are put into action, to produce better goods and services, to enhance the quality of life. This means respect for intellectual property, investment in R&D and commercialisation of ideas. This means investment in basic education, higher education and continuing education. These are critical to a more flexible and productive labour force, and a more enlightened citizenry.
  • Second, rules and institutions matter. One highly visible consequence of the GFC has been a proliferation of rules to regulate the financial sector. But I think there are many other important rules and institutions that we need to evolve and adapt if we want to make the best use of new opportunities and new technology. Rules on investment need to be predictable, given long gestation periods. Rules need to create sufficient incentives to enable the decisions of billions of economic actors to be coordinated to achieve a good outcome. Rules need to respond to the possibilities opened up by new technology, and institutions need to adapt to the changing global environment.
  • Third, consensus and cooperation matter. We need a consensus on how we can generate and sustain growth within countries, and cooperation across countries at the bilateral, regional, and global levels to expand the economic space for all. One bright spot is that the GFC did not result in a closing of markets. But we need a more positive agenda - to continue to open up markets to trade and investment.

Let me draw out some examples from Singapore to illustrate the above tenets.

  • First, to generate ideas, we will invest in education, R&D, protect and advance the use of IP. While our education system is sound, we must strive to do better. We are now seeking to create multiple pathways, promote multiple modes of learning, to develop talents in multiple domains. We are helping our students to learn more about the world around them - in 2013 alone, over 100,000 of our students in primary and secondary schools travelled abroad, with 60% to the ASEAN countries. This represents about 20% of all our students, and most of them were funded by the government to go abroad.
  • To make lifelong learning real and relevant, we are working with companies to make workplaces great learning places. We have to change the current paradigm of just frontloading education in the first 20 years of a person’s life, to a lifelong journey of learning. We are investing in a transformational initiative called SkillsFuture. DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam will be chairing a Council to spearhead this. So you are going to see major changes in this.
  • We are also bringing together key decision-makers to connect and discuss the ideas, big and small, that can make a difference. The Singapore Summit is one excellent example. Our universities are deepening research in the confluence of Asia and the world, and several companies have sited their corporate universities and training centres here. We welcome all to make use of Singapore as a Global-Asia node.
  • Second, Singapore’s success has been a story of adapting rules, strategies and strengthening institutions to changes in the domestic and global environment. The government has had to adapt its strategies and policies to nudge and nurture industry as they strive to take full advantage of the new possibilities.
  • For over 700 years, Singapore functioned as emporium of the world. When the global economy was all about trade in goods, we served as a display and trading centre, taking advantage of the monsoon seasons for sailing boats to come and go. When industrialisation in Asia was at its infancy, we sought to draw in manufacturing investments and welcome MNCs. And indeed, we have benefitted a great deal from many of your investments, and many of you helped build our institutions of learning. As regional incomes and demand expanded our thrust into services took off. Throughout, our institutions have continued to emphasise predictability of our policies and ensured fiscal prudence, macroeconomic stability and openness.
  • In the future, the global economy will be defined more by ideas, innovation and creativity. We hope to be a living laboratory for these changes, and usher in an era where advanced manufacturing and new services, powered by technology, powered by ideas, will enhance people’s welfare.
  • Singapore has very few natural advantages, so we must make the best use of all that we have. One of these is that we are a city, and also a country. So our little island can serve as a test-bed, a living laboratory, a prototype for all sorts of urban solutions, mobility and liveability solutions, for smart city, for green, sustainable development.
  • Hence, we are investing in R&D, and in creating the conditions to enable commercialisation, particularly, in respecting IP. So our other DPM, Mr Teo Chee Hean, who chairs our National Research Foundation, is spearheading this effort, and our Prime Minister chairs an overall Committee to look at Research, Innovation and Enterprise.
  • Third, consensus and cooperation matters. I recall that when we negotiated our first free trade agreement with New Zealand in 2000, we were criticised for breaking ranks and for creating a spaghetti bowl of rules. Over the last decade, however, economies within Asia have concluded many trade agreements.
  • So I am glad that this little initiative has grown, and blossomed into a free trade movement, with more bilateral, regional deals coming our way. My hope is that as we see the gains from cooperation, these regional trade pacts will blossom into global free trade.
Conclusion

Let me now return to my nutmeg and island story. The nutmeg story was about a scarcity mentality - nutmeg was a scarce commodity, and economic competition meant a zero-sum game - the gains of one are the losses of the other.

After almost 400 years, the rules of the game have changed. The prosperity of our neighbours is good for our own prosperity. Working together, we can grow the pie. And with new ideas, new technology, we can expand our space for growth. Provided we have good rules, and a willingness to cooperate.

For the future, will we have the wisdom to cooperate and expand our space, or will we, like the nutmeg traders of the 17th century, fight and kill one another over islands that produce what eventually became a commodity? Will we make the wise decision of developing free economies, with innovation powered by new ideas and new technologies, and new ways of working? Will we have a growth mentality or a scarcity mentality?

Finally, I should say a few words about the Gardens by the Bay that we are in now. In many ways, these beautiful Gardens are a symbol of Singapore and what we hope we can do to be relevant to the world. Built upon a theme of celebration of tropical plant diversity, the Gardens currently houses nearly three thousand varieties numbering one and a half million plants, both indigenous and introduced. Very special conditions are created for the beautiful, weird and wonderful plants and flowers from different parts of the world to thrive. I am sure that there will be a variety and species of plant from every part of the world you come from.

The Garden is located at the historical maritime gateway to Singapore. It has become a national icon that not only enhances the city skyline, but also provides an oasis of peace in our city centre for people from all walks of life to connect, recreate, and enjoy the bounty of nature. It is a place for us to reflect upon the need to cherish the fragile ecosystems in the world, to think of the possibilities of environmental restoration where man has done damage, and to reap the rewards made possible by such endeavour. The amazing increase in biota from insects to birds and otters within this new entirely man-made habitat in Singapore has also allowed resident nature lovers and biologists from all over the world to meet and interact. It is a catalyst for thinking about our future, and our relation to planet Earth and fellow humans. This Garden complements our historical Botanic Gardens which also holds deep heritage value for us.

You have many interesting sessions ahead - on sustainable growth, economic integration in Asia, geopolitical risks and energy dynamics. I wish you all a fruitful discussion. Do enjoy the evening in this special Garden. And by the way, we have nutmegs in this Garden.

Thank you.

534 Students Awarded the National Schools Colours Award for Outstanding Sporting Achievements

Ministry Of Education Feed - 19 September 2014

A total of 534 students from 70 schools were presented the National Schools Colours Award at the 44th Singapore Schools Sports Council (SSSC) National Colours Award Presentation and National School Games Closing Ceremony today. Another 1187 students were presented the Zone Colours Award.

The National and Zone Schools Colours Awards recognise students for their contributions in representing the Singapore Schools Team, and achievements in sports and games within the SSSC Sporting Calendar, at various levels.

SSSC Overall Best School Boy and Overall Best School Girl Award

This year, the SSSC Overall Best School Boy Award was awarded to Quah Zheng Wen from Anglo Chinese School (Independent) for Swimming. Quah Zheng Wen was one of our top medallists at the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar. In addition, he re-wrote his own national record for 50m and 100m backstroke this year. The SSSC Overall Best School Girl Award was awarded to Martina Lindsay Pelonio Veloso from Singapore Sports School for Shooting. In June this year, she was crowned champion in the ISSF World Cup at Munich, Germany.

The Overall Best School Boy and Overall Best School Girl award recipients were selected from the Best School Boy awardees in 17 Sports, and the Best School Girl awardees in 14 sports. These student athletes had attained exceptional sporting achievements, and demonstrated exemplary conduct on and off the field. The list of Best School Boy/Girl award recipients are listed in Annex A.

SSSC Best Team Award

The SSSC Best Team Award was awarded to the Boys Sailing Team for emerging as the World Champion in the 2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship (420 Class). The team comprises two sailors - Loh Jia Yi and Jonathan Yeo from Raffles Institution.

National School Games

The 2014 National School Games (NSG) was declared opened by the Minister for Education on 6 February at ITE College Central. The NSG had reached out to over 50,000 students which encompassed 28 sports for SSSC and 21 sports for SPSSC 1. In conjunction with the National Colours Award presentation, the 2014 NSG was brought to a close.

Footnote
  1. Singapore Primary Schools Sports Council

Launch of C-Quest - A Mobile App Game to Promote Conversations About Cyber Wellness Between Parents and Children

Ministry Of Education Feed - 18 September 2014

Parents can now download a new mobile game app, C-Quest, and have conversations on cyber wellness with their children. Developed by the Ministry of Education and targeted at parents with children aged 10 to 14, C-Quest is specially designed to facilitate meaningful parent-child conversations on their online experiences. Through the game, students will also learn to be safe, respectful, and responsible users of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Players can begin the game by choosing one of the three Cyber Navigators for their C-Quest to explore the cyber seas. The three Cyber Navigators are:

  • Master over Technology - to be captains of their own lives and not to be enslaved to technology and mobile gadgets;

  • Protector - to watch out for one another, as protectors, and be safe online; and

  • Relationship-Builder - to build positive relationships online, to avoid sparking unnecessary conflicts which would end up hurting others and one self.

To complete the cyber quest, children will converse with their parents and answer questions related to cyber wellness to earn stars and collect accessories and equipment for their Cyber Navigators. Where opinions differ, the game provides opportunities for the players to talk about their differences and understand how others may feel or think. The game also provides useful tips to the players to manage their online activities. (Please refer to Annex A for examples of questions and useful tips in the game)

Deputy Director-General of Education (Curriculum), Mr Wong Siew Hoong said, “Parents play a critical role in shaping their children’s values, as well as in guiding their online behavior, and monitoring their computer use. Through playing the game with their children, MOE hopes that the app will serve as a tool to encourage conversations between parents and their children on cyber wellness.”

C-Quest, in facilitating conversation between parents and their children, complements the Cyber Wellness curriculum in schools, where cyber wellness based on the principles of “Respect for Self and Others” and “Safe and Responsible Use” of technology are taught through Citizenship and Character Education (CCE) to reinforce the positive values and social emotional competencies needed for our students to navigate the cyber space skilfully and safely.

‘C-Quest’ is available for download from today on the android platform, Google Play. The iOS version will be ready by 1 Nov 2014. Parents can also look out for cyber wellness tips posted on MOE’s Cyber Wellness Portal and the MOE Parents in Education portal.

Speech by Ms Sim Ann at the Launch of the Very Special Arts Singapore (VSA) "Close to My Heart" Children Art Exhibition 2014, on Friday, 12 September 2014t

Ministry Of Education Feed - 18 September 2014

A very good evening to all of you. I am very honoured to be here to join you at the launch of “Close To My Heart” - Children Art Exhibition. As Mr Christopher Yeow has shared with you, our children and youth with special needs were invited to do a very special art piece to express what it means to be with the people who are closest to their hearts. Not surprisingly, parents and family members feature very prominently in this collection of excellent art pieces. At the same time, there are also teachers and friends. Indeed, the support of those who are nearest and dearest to our children and youth with special needs is integral to helping them not only learn better, express themselves artistically, and also in reaching out to society at large, in helping members of society understand our special needs sector a lot better.

In this respect, I would like to take this opportunity to pay special tribute to Very Special Arts Singapore (VSA), for labouring over many years precisely to do this, to build a platform so that our children and youth with special needs are able to showcase their talents in very many different ways, and being able to develop their strengths and interests in areas such as art and music. This is something very commendable so let’s give Very Special Arts Singapore a warm round of applause for the good work they have done.

I am also very happy to know that 12 of the 20 SPED schools run by Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) have taken part in this competition and exhibition, and I would like to call upon more of our schools to work closely with Very Special Arts Singapore because I think the effectiveness of their programmes speak for themselves.

Over the years, we have made strides in raising the quality, accessibility as well as affordability of our Special Education through strengthening the curriculum framework, through putting in the resources to enable our students, amongst other ways, to access learning via IT and many more. Partnerships with organisations such as Very Special Arts Singapore really help to round out our vision for holistic education for all the children and I hope this partnership will continue for a long time to come.

There remains much to be done for Special Education. My colleagues in the Ministry and I have more plans ahead. It will be a long journey, but I think it will be a journey that will be made a lot more effective with the help and support of our parents and families of students with special needs, as well as dedicated and staunch partners and supporters such as Very Special Arts Singapore.

I wish all competitors and participants the very best as you embark on your journey in exploring the world of the arts and also to wish everyone present a very pleasant weekend ahead. Thank you very much.

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