The annual National School Games is organised by the schools sports councils for all its members, which include all government schools, government-aided schools, independent schools, privately funded schools, and specialised independent schools such as School of the Arts (SOTA), NUS High and the Singapore Sports School. It provides a platform for all athletes, regardless of which school they come from, to compete and be part of a shared learning experience.
The Sports School competes in less than half of the 28 sports that are offered at the NSG. Where appropriate, the Sports School deliberately sends relatively junior players to compete in the NSGs, as part of their development. Based on last year’s competitions, a total of 110 championships were organised for the ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions, which caters to students from all secondary schools. Sports School contested in 46 of these championships and won 16 National titles. While this is a good performance, it also shows that other schools can also perform well when pitted against the Sports School.
Learning to lose graciously and win honourably is integral to character development. Strong teams in the National School Games raise the playing standards of our students, and provide valuable learning opportunities for teams to hone their mental strength, play intelligently, bond and to experience both successes and failures. In this light, the Sports School’s participation in the National School Games has raised the overall level of competition while providing its student-athletes the opportunity to be part of a shared learning experience together with athletes from other schools.
It takes great courage to face off strong opponents, whether they are teams from Sports School or other schools. On the ground, we see many instances of such courage from our students. Hong Kah Secondary, for instance, has a strong football culture, and its school football teams, have in the last three years, consistently finished among the top four at the Nationals. In fact, its ‘C’ Division team won the National Title in the last two years, an outstanding feat for a sport that is contested by more than half of our schools, including Sports School.
The schools sports councils will continue to monitor and review the inter-school competitions and will take appropriate measures when necessary to ensure that the National School Games fulfils our educational objectives.
As emphasised in the 2014 Committee of Supply Debate on MOE and in MOE’s Addendum to the President’s Address this year, we are deeply committed to making Every School A Good School - one that caters to the needs of its students, creates a positive learning experience for each student, enables teachers to be caring educators, and fosters supportive partnerships with parents and the community.
To support this, we are encouraging and supporting schools to develop rich learning programmes that will cater to our students’ diverse talents and interests. Each of our secondary schools is working towards developing an Applied Learning Programme (ALP) and a Learning for Life Programme (LLP) by 2017. This will create a diverse and colourful landscape of secondary schools with distinctive and authentic programmes that enable students to apply knowledge and develop life skills. MOE supports schools in the development and implementation of the ALP and LLP. Each secondary school will receive $50,000 per year for each programme or $100,000 per year in total.
MOE continues to ensure that all our schools are well-resourced to provide a holistic education for their students.
- Schools are equipped with the facilities needed. We are also upgrading facilities across 71 more primary schools in the next few years.
- All schools receive a range of funds for their school operations and programmes. MOE adopts a needs-based approach to the provision of funds. For schools with more students on financial assistance, their Opportunity Fund quantum would be proportionately adjusted. The Opportunity Fund has enabled Singaporean students from less advantaged backgrounds to participate and benefit from the co-curricular and enrichment activities organised by the schools.
Beyond funding and infrastructure, at the heart of every school is a core of teachers who lead, care and inspire. Our educators are at the forefront of our drive to make Every School A Good School.
- We are introducing Student Development Teams where Year Heads are appointed to safeguard the quality of school experience and learning opportunities of each level of students. By 2016, all schools will have Student Development Teams.
- We are strengthening professional development and improving instructional practices across schools. The Academy of Singapore Teachers is leading this, assisted by other professional platforms and specialised teacher academies.
- More teachers are deployed to support levelling-up programmes for low progress learners, such as the Learning Support Programme (LSP) for English and Learning Support for Maths (LSM).
Finally, a good school fosters supportive partnership with parents and the community. Since 2014, schools have received an annual top-up of the Parent Support Group (PSG) Fund to enable them to organise a variety of parent engagement and parent education programmes.
We already have a strong education system with a good level of achievement across all the schools. Going forward, MOE will continue to strengthen the system and enable all our schools to deliver a student-centric, values-driven education. We will continue to invest in our schools and support our teachers. In doing so, we will have a wide range of good schools that bring out the best in every child.
Five young teachers received the Outstanding Youth in Education Award (OYEA) from Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at the National Institute of Education (NIE) Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony on 9 July 2014. They are:
- Miss Gidwani Poojalal, 31, from Haig Girls’ School;
- Mdm Nur Ain Binte Ahmad, 34, from Park View Primary School;
- Ms Lin Xiaojun, 28, from Chestnut Drive Secondary School;
- Mr Mohamed Ashiq Bin Mohamed Elias, 34, from Pasir Ris Secondary School; and
- Miss Khairiah Bte Hairoman, 34, from Peirce Secondary School.
Selected from 14 finalists, the five winners strongly believe that education is about nurturing the child holistically. They have sought to nurture all-rounded individuals through their lessons and interaction with students. These teachers have also distinguished themselves by adopting innovative approaches both in and outside the classroom, as well as demonstrating dedication in stretching their students’ potential. Please refer to Annex A for more information on the award winners.
The OYEA is a national award that recognises young teachers for their commendable enthusiasm, energy and active involvement in youth development. Since its inception in 1999, 49 outstanding young educators, including this year’s winners, have received the award.
The OYEA winners were selected by the OYEA Selection Panel, comprising representatives from the Ministry of Education, the National Institute of Education, and the National Youth Council. A total of 4,549 nominations from the schools and members of the public were received for 911 teachers from 216 schools in 2014.
Besides honouring the achievements of young educators, OYEA aims to inspire youths that teaching is a fulfilling profession. Besides receiving a trophy and citation certificate, all the OYEA winners will be fully sponsored to attend an overseas professional development programme. The list of the 2014 finalists and details of OYEA are in Annex B.
Thank you for inviting me to join you on this special day. Your teachers and your loved ones are proud of you. Let’s take a moment to thank all the guides, mentors, and supporters who have made today possible.
I am especially proud to join you at this Teachers’ Investiture Ceremony - not just for the people you have grown to be, or the people you will go on to be, but for the many people who will themselves grow to achieve their dreams, because of you. A teacher’s job is different from all other jobs - you are in the profession of shaping lives. When you do your job with skill and with heart, your impact is immeasurable.Care for Our Students
Let me share a story from a student’s viewpoint. I almost met a young man recently whose story shows just what a teacher can do. I say “almost met” because it was at his graduation ceremony, where, amidst the crowd, we never got a chance to talk. But this young man was so determined, he wrote me a long note afterwards. He told me, when he was young, he played truant, got into fights, almost flunked his PSLE. He started in an EM3 class because he was a weak student. His family was very poor and his parents were illiterate. They were in no position to help him. He went to the Normal (Technical) stream, then worked his way to ITE, polytechnic, and then to the Singapore Institute of Technology. In SIT, he was an active student leader. He has just got his degree from the DigiPen Institute of Technology, one of the best in animation, and he has a good job now where he likes his company and his company really values him.
Reading his email, I was intrigued and I asked him: “Who made a difference in your life?” This time, he sent me an even longer email. That email was very touching to me because he detailed every single teacher from primary school through SIT, how so many people made a difference in his life, and he remembered every one of them by name. One of them, Mr Soh, taught him Math in lower secondary. In his letter, he wrote: “Mr Soh told the class that he would give a remedial lesson but it ended up that I was the only one who went. Mr Soh said, ‘Even if you’re the only student, I will still teach’.” Today, this young man says, “If I meet any young person today who wants my help, I will give him all my time. Because someone else did it for me.”
He is a remarkable young man. I am not sharing his name because I have not had his permission. But I think you, as teachers, may find this interesting. In primary school, his personal ethos was this: “I stole and I fought and I lied. But there was one thing I would never do. I would never fail to greet my teachers. No matter how naughty I was, I always showed respect to my teachers.”
In fact, one time in secondary school, he got into trouble for fighting. When he was being disciplined for it, he was very agitated. But it wasn’t because he wanted to get out of punishment. He blurted out, “It’s Teachers’ Day!” In his schoolbag (which had hardly any books in it), he had Teachers’ Day cards for his old primary school teachers, and he was in a hurry to rush back to his old primary school to pass them the cards in person before the school day ended.
I think any teacher would feel inspired to meet such a student. Indeed, it is the privilege of the teacher to be able to shape lives in such a deep way. I was very struck by the number of teachers who made such a difference to this young man’s life. Each them probably did not realise at the time how profoundly, and positively, they were shaping him. This is one thing that training alone cannot bring about. It takes heart, care, a deep sense of duty, and an even deeper sense of responsibility that as teachers, you have a unique power to bring something to the lives of our students, in a way that helps each child get the better of his personal challenges, in a way that brings out the best in every child.
Not only the children, but their families, and the larger community, place faith in our teachers to do your very best for the children. This young man shows his faith by honouring his teachers no matter what - I think it is a faith well-placed, but it is also a faith that our teaching fraternity must continually earn, through the way we care and do our best for our students. I have faith you will do your best.Care for Our Teachers
Now, while the work of a teacher is very exciting and inspiring, it can also be very challenging. In some aspects of your work, there are very clear boundaries, for example pertaining to duties and professional relationships with students and colleagues. These are absolutely clear and you must work within these boundaries. But there are other areas where boundaries are less clear, for example how much time to spend when you want to do your best for every student. Let me share some thoughts, if it can help you be the best teachers you can possibly be.
My first thought is this: you must take good care of yourselves, even as you care for your students. First, learn to draw a professional boundary. With the caring teachers I have met, the greatest challenge is not about timetables, or marking, or even the handful of unreasonable parents with unreasonable demands or complaints. With the caring teachers I’ve met, the greater challenge is always about not being able to stop caring. I know of teachers who cannot sleep at night out of worry for some of their students, and teachers who will spend extra hours outside of work giving additional help to students. Just as you cannot stop a child who wants to learn, you cannot stop a teacher who wants to teach. But you must also learn to make enough time for yourself, for your personal health and growth, so that you can be a better teacher to your students.
There is no rule on how to draw this line. For example, I cannot say to you, as soon as your last class of the day is over, you stop being a teacher. Teaching is a calling to be measured not semester by semester, not grade by grade, but life by life. If you ever find yourself beginning to count your work hour by hour, day by day, then I suggest you take a moment and ask yourself, will this next effort be of help to your students? Will it help them grow? Will it help them become better people? If the answer is yes, and you have the capacity, by all means, push the frontiers to be a better teacher. Teaching is an art and these are some of the lines you will draw and redraw throughout your career. It can prove challenging, especially for beginning teachers, but even for experienced ones. It is a question of balance, and that is why it is important to walk your teaching journey with trusted mentors and friends.
Second, always find the joy and purpose in what you do. You explored these questions in NIE courses such as Education Psychology, Social Context of Teaching and Learning, and Teaching Practicum. Once you start work, keep finding the mentors and peers who can boost your sense of joy and purpose in your work.
Third, keep learning and growing. You are graduating from NIE, and have earned your place amongst our education fraternity. Yet there is always room to grow. Keep the spirit of the curious student alive in yourself.
MOE is committed to supporting you in your learning journey. Every year, MOE awards the Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS) to outstanding Education Officers to deepen our teachers’ knowledge in key subjects and specialised areas. 57 officers will be receiving this scholarship today. Another 28 officers have been awarded the Postgraduate Award (PGA), which was introduced to provide more opportunities for our teachers to deepen your professional expertise. I encourage you to make the best use of these opportunities to hone your teacher’s craft.
These are my heartfelt tips to you, as a person who has worked many years. I personally draw inspiration from the many dedicated school leaders, teachers and MOE officers I meet every day. I wish for you the fortune of coming to work everyday with people who inspire and move you. When the work gets heavy, try out the advice I shared. Remember to take good care of yourselves, even as you continue to do your best for your students. MOE, the teaching fraternity, and our larger community will support you too.Outstanding Educators - OYEA recipients
Our teachers, whether they have been part of the teaching fraternity for many years or just a few, touch the lives of students in ways big and small. Today, I am happy to honour five young teachers for their extraordinary work and for inspiring their students. The Outstanding Youth in Education Award (OYEA) this year goes to Miss Gidwani Poojalal from Haig Girls’ School; Mdm Nur Ain Binte Ahmad from Park View Primary School; Ms Lin Xiaojun from Chestnut Drive Secondary School; Mr Mohamed Ashiq Bin Mohamed Elias from Pasir Ris Secondary School; and Miss Khairiah Bte Hairoman from Peirce Secondary School.
Each OYEA teacher has his or her own way of bringing excellence into teaching. Gidwani has a passion for holistic development, Nur Ain is an excellent classroom practitioner, Xiaojun infuses her work with socio-emotional learning, Ashiq encourages the sharing of teaching strategies among teachers, and Khairiah pairs academic teaching with character development. Just as each child is different and has his own unique needs, there are many ways in which you can excel at bringing out the best in your students. My heartiest congratulations to the OYEA winners!
We have been giving out the OYEA for 15 years now. Teacher excellence is not a quirk - it is the standard - in our schools. Every year, many young teachers are put up for the award whose idealism and innovativeness give us much cause for hope. These young teachers show care for their students’ character and moral development while motivating, challenging and inspiring them to achieve their full potential. The ethos and enthusiasm of our OYEA recipients shows that our young teaching force is a strength in our education system. You, and our many other dedicated teachers, are the true face of our schools - I am very happy to celebrate your achievements.Conclusion
Thinking back to the young man I talked about earlier on, I hope that you will have the opportunity, in your career, to make an impact -like the many teachers who have had an impact on this young man. I hope you will remember to treat yourselves and your fellow teachers with the same care you show your students. I hope you will find peers and mentors with whom you can share the joys and challenges that come with doing a job unlike any other. And I hope, one day, your students will write letters to future Education Ministers, filled with gratitude and respect, to name and thank all the teachers who helped them become all that they want to be.
Let me end by extending a warm welcome to all of you into our MOE family! Thank you.
Since 2008, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) have sponsored 17 and 3 Singapore Citizens respectively, for doctoral studies in foreign universities in academic disciplines such as Physical Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Humanities, Social Sciences and Education.
The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has also sponsored Singaporeans for doctoral studies overseas, though it did not award any in the recent few years.
The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) are new universities and have not provided any sponsorship for doctoral studies thus far.
While such sponsorship is one way for our Autonomous Universities to attract and develop Singaporeans as faculty members, the universities also recruit faculty members directly to meet their diverse needs. With the increasing stature of our Autonomous Universities, they have been able to attract qualified faculty members from all local and overseas universities, and these recruits include Singaporeans.
The autonomous universities have established their own frameworks and guidelines relating to remuneration and benefits for all categories of staff, including those in leadership positions. These frameworks and guidelines are endorsed by the universities’ respective Boards of Trustees, and take into account market conditions to enable them to recruit and retain the right people.
To attract and retain quality teachers, MOE reviews the salaries of our teachers regularly against market benchmarks, to ensure that they remain competitive. Teachers receive annual increments, and can be promoted to a more senior grade, based on their performance and potential. Although they start at a lower starting salary, good performing teachers who are diploma holders can progress to senior positions in the Education Service, where they are remunerated appropriately. The salaries received by teachers depend on their grades, performance and years of service.
The MOE Kindergartens started operations only recently in 2014. Teachers recruited for the MOE Kindergartens are paid based on their qualifications and experience, and their salaries are pegged to the market rate.
Periods set aside for Character and Citizenship Education (CCE), which include weekly assembly time, take up about 2 hours and 2 hours 30 minutes per week in primary and secondary schools respectively. This constitutes about 10% of formal school hours.
Co-curricular Activities (CCA) occur outside formal school hours and span 30 of the 40 week school year. On average, secondary students spend 5-6 hours per week on CCA. In primary school, CCA is optional and generally starts in Primary 3 or 4. Students spend an average of 2-3 hours per week on CCA.
The curriculum time set aside for CCE and CCA cannot be replaced by academic lessons. Teachers use CCE periods and CCA time to facilitate students’ learning and application of values and to build their character. A key component of CCE is the Values-In-Action programme, where students develop values such as empathy and care for others through serving the community. Schools nurture character and inculcate values through all subjects and programmes, not just during CCE and CCA. On top of these, schools also utilise other enrichment and life skills programmes, such as specialised workshops or learning journeys, to reinforce students’ learning in CCE. Our schools adopt an integrated approach, and seek the support of parents and our community in bringing out the best in every child.
Quality coaching does not focus only on skills and competencies in a particular sport. Importantly, for schools, sports are a particularly suitable avenue to develop the character of students. Hence from 2012, MOE had required all sports instructors and coaches to attend a mandatory workshop to familiarise them to the Ministry’s philosophy of anchoring sports education on values inculcation and character development. This workshop covers areas such as character development in school sports, athlete-centered principles, sports safety and how coaches and instructors can partner schools to hone students’ life skills and develop good character.
This one workshop however cannot uplift the quality of coaching in schools. Quality coaching also comprises, amongst others, knowledge of sports science, motivation skills, injury prevention and rehabilitation. These are not covered in this workshop. Coaches themselves would need to continually upgrade their skills through the various coach development programmes that are available both local and overseas.
Since 2012, more than 1,100 coaches and instructors have completed the mandatory workshop. Those who have yet to attend the workshop will be allowed to register with the Ministry of Education provisionally. However, they will be required to attend the workshop by end December 2015, to continue to remain on the registry.
There are many collaboration programmes in our local universities where students attend overseas attachments with partner universities. These include voluntary student exchange programmes and overseas work attachments. Typically, overseas programmes are compulsory for joint degree, dual masters and integrated degree and masters programmes where students are awarded jointly-validated qualifications from a local and foreign university.
Our universities have the autonomy to work with overseas partners on the structure and content of overseas programmes. These overseas components generally complement, rather than duplicate, the content covered locally, tapping on the relative strengths and niche areas of both our universities and foreign partners. For example, National University of Singapore (NUS) offers a joint degree programme in a Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Students in this programme have the opportunity to complement their learning of life sciences in NUS with a liberal arts education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH).
There will be instances where the academic content covered in overseas programmes could conceivably have been covered locally. For instance, the Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP) offered in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is a dual-degree programme which awards students a Bachelor of Engineering Science coupled with a Master of Science in Technology Management. As part of the programme, students are given the opportunity to attend a one-year immersion in their third year at the University of California, Berkeley or Imperial College of London, to pursue an engineering specialisation and courses on technology-related entrepreneurship. While some of the academic content in that third year could possibly be covered locally, the overseas component allows students to learn in a different environment.
The educational value of overseas programmes is more than just about their academic content. Overseas stints help develop cross-cultural awareness, independence and other soft skills in our students. Many students return with a stronger appreciation for and sense of responsibility to our society.
The instructor registration policy was introduced as part of MOE’s efforts to support schools in procuring the services of suitable instructors for co-curricular and enrichment programmes.
Instructors, including those who are freelance, are mainly concerned about registering with MOE in time to bid for contracts with schools. The registration requirement will only start from January 2015. MOE has given instructors a long lead time of 9 months to register from March 2014.
As a pre-requisite for registration, sports instructors are required to attend a workshop on the standards for coaching co-organised by MOE and Sports Singapore. To ensure that there is sufficient time for instructors to meet the requirement, they are given till the end of 2015 to attend the workshop. Existing sports instructors who are unable to attend the course in the meantime can be given a provisional registration.
MOE will continue to work closely with schools and partner agencies such as Sports Singapore and the National Arts Council to communicate the rationale and requirements of registration to instructors.