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96 Students Awarded the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS)

Ministry Of Education Feed - 26 August 2014

Ninety-six students received the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS) at the 2014 SgIS Award Ceremony today which was graced by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education. Amongst them were 19 students who were awarded the SgIS Mid-Term Scholarships, offered to students currently studying in local and overseas universities. Launched in 2012, the SgIS is a partnership between the Government and private enterprises to develop a strong core of Singaporeans to anchor strategic sectors which are critical for Singapore’s development. The background on SgIS is at Annex A.

Forty-one organisations are participating in SgIS this year. They come from 14 industries, ranging from engineering, aviation, tourism, power, maritime, healthcare, to arts and culture and social services (see Annex B for the list of Sponsoring Organisations).

A key feature of the SgIS is the Scholars’ Development and Engagement Programme which includes internships with their Sponsoring Organisations. The programme seeks to instil in the recipients a strategic outlook for Singapore, enables them to develop skills and gain industry-relevant professional experiences with their sponsoring organisations, and build a strong connection with the community.

Opening Address by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SGIS) Award Ceremony

Ministry Of Education Feed - 26 August 2014

Good evening. Our deserving scholarship recipients, family and friends, Sponsoring Organisations, this occasion is possible only with all of you here.

A Core of Singaporeans, A Focus on Industry

I am happy to be here because this scholarship (SgIS in short) has a special meaning for me. Three years ago, I wanted to develop a scholarship that would grow a core of young Singaporean leaders and professionals in key and emerging industry sectors, with deep knowledge of their sectors.

But I wanted to do it differently from the norm. Many places provide scholarships to recognise students for how well they have done in schools. Instead, this scholarship recognises members of industry who have good HR practices, and works closely with them to develop this Singaporean core of talent. Each Sponsoring Organisation provides internships and mentorship for scholars during their university education, and career development opportunities when the scholars graduate and join the Sponsoring Organisations. It is a meaningful relationship for students and companies alike.

Now why is the “Industry” part so important? Yesterday, the ASPIRE Committee, chaired by SMS Indranee, released its recommendations for enabling every Polytechnic and ITE student to realise his or her potential. At the press conference, we had a panel of people who have been involved deeply in the ASPIRE work - and it was made up roughly equally of Government, our Institutes of Higher Learning, and Industry. This is because the way forward must have the active participation of all these parts. And our students and families of course.

Taking up ASPIRE’s recommendations in full, the Government will: Equip students to make better Choices; Enable students to develop deeper Skills; and Promote multiple Pathways in education and careers.

Underlying these actions are three important shifts in the way we think about learning and jobs. First, we must place a stronger emphasis on skills and applied learning, so that our students can use knowledge in the real world context to solve problems and to create innovations. Second, learning must be continual and lifelong, instead of just being frontloaded in the first 20 odd years of our lives. Third, as young Singaporeans differ in their interests, temperament, aptitudes and learning styles, we must encourage multiple pathways for development, in study and at work, and respect every person and every job.

You can see that employers play a critical role - they provide the real world context and feedback for applied learning and skills deepening when students are still in school; they create the opportunities for lifelong learning when students join them after school; and their recognition and reward structures help shape how society respects every person regardless of the learning pathway he took.

Employers Play a Critical Role in Supporting Learning

You’ve heard of green harvesting, that is, when employers identify talent early on, while they are still in school. I’ve found that progressive employers are interested not just in green harvesting; they want to be involved in the very seeding and growing of talent. This way, they know that the talent will be a better fit when they join the company, and therefore be happier and more ready to excel from day one.

I am pleased that our talent growers, or Sponsoring Organisations, have grown in number from 28 in our first year to 41 this year. Also, more Sponsoring Organisations are expanding their opportunities to a range of students on different education pathways. Besides their involvement in SgIS, Singapore Power, PSA and YCH Group have scholarships and internship opportunities for Polytechnic and ITE students.

YCH just signed an MOU with Republic Polytechnic to run a Talent Development Programme for students who study Supply Chain and Industrial Operations Management. The students can complement their polytechnic study with internships with on the job training, mentorship by an industrial supervisor, and a final year project. Last month, PSA and ITE sealed an agreement worth over $2 million to offer ITE students internships that provide exposure to the latest port equipment and technologies. PSA has also sponsored a Prime Mover for ITE College West’s Automotive Technology students to do more hands-on learning. Singapore Power launched attractive scholarships last year for ITE and Polytechnic students. These cover course fees and allowances and guarantee employment and continual development after graduation.

Our trade associations and chambers also play a role. They do so in the SME Talent Programme, a scholarship programme which helps talents from ITE, Polytechnics, and universities gain industry exposure and secure promising career opportunities in the SME sector.

These are all very good initiatives. I am very glad more companies are actively creating such opportunities to help our students across the different pathways do well. I respect our Sponsoring Organisations for your foresight in getting involved in the early and continuous development of talent. I hope, with your staunch support, we can spread these opportunities to more students, across the multiple education pathways. I hope all of you will support the ASPIRE initiatives too, and have happier, better team members as a result. I’m happy to work with talent growers like you to create a full range of opportunities and pathways to benefit students of all backgrounds.

Employers Play an Important Role in Recognising Learning

Just as it is critical for employers to create continuous learning opportunities, it is also important for employers to recognise their employees when they make the most of these opportunities.

I meet many teachers who do make the most of learning opportunities. Whatever the educational certificate they hold when they take up the teaching calling, the best teachers show themselves through their passion, their deep care for their students, and their relentless quest to learn. While we may all learn in different ways, taking different pathways at different paces, our pathways neither predetermine nor constrain our passion to be the best we can be at our work.

I am very glad that many of our teachers are lifelong learners. This allows them to get better and better at their craft, regardless of their starting points. As a result of this passion to learn and improve, they excel at bringing out the best in their students. Indeed, we have some outstanding non-graduate teachers who have proven to be skilled in bringing out the best in every child. Today, although non-graduate classroom teachers are paid on a different salary scale from graduate teachers, they are able to progress to take on leadership or senior teaching positions, where they are paid at the same levels as their graduate peers.

MOE’s Actions in Step with ASPIRE

By deepening their skills, learning on the job, and doing so through different pathways, some of our teachers are models of the ASPIRE spirit. There are some actions that MOE can take as part of ASPIRE, to support our teachers to achieve their own aspirations.

For a start, I think we can do more to enhance the career progression for our deserving non-graduate teachers.

I am pleased to announce that MOE will place non-graduate teachers who have demonstrated outstanding performance, or have deep experience and good performance, on the graduate salary scale, without the need to obtain a degree. This will take place at the classroom teacher level, without requiring them to rise to leadership or senior teaching positions. Under the current system, an experienced non-graduate classroom teacher who has honed his skills over years of teaching and made outstanding contributions in school, cannot cross over to the graduate salary scale without a degree. With the new performance-based emplacement framework, this will change. The experienced teacher will now be emplaced to the graduate salary scale, even without a degree, if they have performed well. So we aim to recognise deserving non-graduate teachers who have demonstrated consistently good performance and we aim to do so for the first batch to be emplaced by the fourth quarter of this year.

These will be among some of our best teachers, recognised by peers and school leaders for their teaching excellence, and relentless effort to develop themselves to become better teachers. The emplacement is in recognition of their outstanding performance and contribution to the Education Service. The Ministry has taken this decision to make it clear that we recognise our teachers based on their performance and contribution, regardless of their qualifications.

This is not a one-off exercise. We will keep supporting our teachers to learn and improve, and we will keep recognising deserving teachers in this, and other, ways. I am confident even more non-graduate teachers with the passion to keep improving will prove themselves in the years to come.

Second, MOE will study the possibility of merging the graduate and non-graduate schemes for our teachers, so that our graduate and non-graduate teachers can be remunerated and progressed along the same salary scale, based on their demonstrated performance and potential to take on larger roles.

Third, we will keep providing the opportunities and support for all our teachers, regardless of their starting points, to grow and learn on the job. The Academy of Singapore Teachers provides many of the teacher development opportunities. We are also looking at how to improve ways for teachers to continue learning, be it on-the-job mentoring, professional network communities for sharing teaching strategies and experiences, specialised courses, or part-time study at Polytechnics, NIE or universities. If our teachers have the passion to do their best for their students, and if they have the fire to keep getting better at teaching, we will provide the opportunities for them to realise their passion.

Let me also emphasise that in all that we do, we will not only maintain but seek to raise the standards of teaching. We will continue to recruit suitable people and develop them to be the best that they can be. We will ensure good educators are at the helm of the teaching frontline. As an employer, the Government will support ASPIRE by improving career prospects for non-graduates in the Public Service. Non-graduate civil servants who perform well and show the ability to take on bigger responsibilities can expect faster career progression. The Public Service Division is also studying the merging of graduate and non-graduate career schemes.

Conclusion

The key message here is learning never stops, and you must always seek the best possible opportunities. It is not about one qualification versus another, and not about whether you get a head start. It is about how you must continue in whatever field you are in; you must want to excel and find opportunities to learn and be better. Congratulations to all of you for finding your passion and finding the right employers who will work together to develop your talent and help you to grow and excel. It is about opportunities and recognition working together to light up many paths to brighter futures for all. And it is about industry, schools, Government, students and families moving in the same direction, to build a society where each person may stand tall on the strength of his character and achievements, regardless of the path he took to get there. I thank the Economic Agencies and Sponsoring Organisations for your commitment to creating opportunities and recognition.

To our scholarship recipients, congratulations. Remember, the right and relevant qualifications are only a start. Getting the appropriate qualifications is useful if it prepares us to do well at what we want to do. It is equally important to keep looking for opportunities to learn, best of all on the job. These are the things that really count.

Thank you.

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Better Choices, Deeper Skills, Multiple Paths: Government Accepts ASPIRE Committee's Recommendations

Ministry Of Education Feed - 25 August 2014

The Government accepts the recommendations of the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) Committee 1 to further strengthen Singapore’s applied education pathways, provide more opportunities for Singaporeans to realise their full potential and aspirations, and to support better alignment of the supply of and demand for skills, so that Singapore will continue to prosper and be a land of hope and opportunity for everyone in the years ahead.

The ASPIRE recommendations were set out in broad strokes by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his 2014 National Day Rally speech. They are centred on:

  • Choices: Helping students make better education and career choices, both in school and beyond graduation;

  • Skills: Creating more opportunities for polytechnic and ITE students and graduates to grow the skills they need, to excel in the career they choose to pursue;

  • Paths: Building more paths that will allow polytechnic and ITE graduates to progress in their careers by developing their skills.

Better Choices:
Helping students make better education and career choices

The government will provide more support for Singaporeans to make informed education, training and career choices, through the provision of more resources for education and career guidance (ECG) in schools, polytechnics and ITE, and a national ECG framework.

  • ECG officers for schools, polytechnics and ITE - There will be one ECG officer for every few secondary schools and junior college/centralised institute, piloting this next year with about 40 to 50 schools and junior colleges, and three to five ECG officers in each polytechnic and ITE college.

  • New ECG programme - A new ECG programme covering areas such as personal management and career exploration will be developed for the polytechnics and ITE. This will be delivered through classroom activities, workshops, seminars and visits.

New ECG training courses

A new Specialist Diploma in Career Counselling by Republic Polytechnic will be launched in October 2014. This will give ECG officers, and other individuals who are interested in developing the skills and knowledge needed to provide education and career counselling, the opportunity to do so.

One-stop ECG portal

In addition, to provide individuals with access to relevant ECG tools and information, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency will build on the Individual Learning Portfolio (ILP) pilot project to develop a one-stop online ECG portal that will be accessible to all Singaporeans, including students and working adults.

Deeper Skills:
Creating more opportunities for polytechnic and ITE students and graduates to grow the skills they need, to excel in the career they choose to pursue.

The Government will invest further in the polytechnics and ITE to strengthen their model of applied education.

Enhanced Internships and more Higher Nitec places

From 2015, polytechnics will pilot enhancements to internships in selected sectors, starting with the Built Environment, Early Childhood Education, Hotel Operations and Management, and Marine and Offshore Engineering sectors. MOE will also increase the number of Higher Nitec places, starting with 100 additional places primarily in Engineering and Info-communication courses in 2015.

Sector Leads

MOE will work with polytechnics and ITE to identify lead institutions for key industry sectors, starting with Singapore Polytechnic for food technology, Ngee Ann Polytechnic for marine and offshore engineering, and Republic Polytechnic for logistics.

For each sector, the designated lead polytechnic and a partner ITE college will coordinate efforts across all institutions by working with stakeholders to strengthen linkages with the industry and enhance programme offerings.

More online learning resources

The polytechnics and ITE will also develop more online learning resources and developmental programmes to support their students’ learning and development.

Place-and-Train programmes

The Government will provide polytechnic and ITE students with more opportunities to deepen their skills after graduation, and better support their transition into the workforce.

Starting in 2016, Place-and-Train programmes will be launched for fresh polytechnic and ITE graduates in sectors which require deeper skills training. These programmes will be designed in collaboration with industry to ensure their relevance to industry. Graduates on such programmes will be salaried employees, and can potentially receive higher pay upon completion of the programme if they perform well and take on larger job scopes. They will also receive an employer-recognised skills certification.

As a start, ITE will offer their graduates place-and-train diploma programmes in emergency medical technology (or para-medicine), marine and offshore engineering, hotel & restaurant management, pastry and bakery, and environmental engineering. The polytechnics will offer post-diploma place-and-train programmes, such as Specialist or Advanced diploma programmes in aerospace, biologics, marine and offshore engineering, built environment, info-communications technology, and logistics.

Subsidies for post-diploma courses

More support will be provided for polytechnic graduates to take up their first post-diploma courses. While current course modules leading to a post-diploma certificate are offered on a part-time basis, the polytechnics will restructure some of these courses to offer an additional full-time option so that they can be completed within a shorter duration. Subsidies will also be increased to 90% of course fees, from the current 85%, for those taking up their first post-diploma certificate in selected courses, two or more years after completion of the programme. The first of these new courses leading to a post-diploma certificate, likely in the areas of engineering and info-communications technology, will be launched in October 2015.

Multiple Paths:
Building more paths that will allow polytechnic and ITE graduates to progress in their careers by developing their skills

The Government will work with employers, industry associations, and unions to develop sector-specific skills and progression frameworks for key sectors. We will also work with the universities, polytechnics, ITE and other training providers to offer industry-recognised modular courses that individuals can take to build up their skills in a targeted manner.

Conclusion

The Government believes that the ASPIRE recommendations will further strengthen Singapore’s applied education landscape, and provide more opportunities for Singaporeans to realise their full potential, so that Singapore will continue to be a land of hope and opportunity for everyone in the years ahead.

A concerted national effort, involving not only government agencies and education institutions, but also private sector employers, industry associations, unions and other key stakeholders, will be required to bring about the changes proposed. Besides the establishment of the Tripartite Committee chaired by DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam to drive these efforts, the Government, as an employer, will also do its part to create more opportunities for polytechnic and ITE graduates in the Public Service.

The Government would like to express its appreciation to the ASPIRE Committee and each of its members for their contributions and hard work. We are committed to working together with all stakeholders in society to build multiple pathways to success in work and life for all Singaporeans.

Background to the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE)

At the official opening ceremony of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Headquarters in November 2013, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the need to strengthen the applied education pathways in the polytechnics and ITE to better provide graduates with good career and academic progression prospects. The ASPIRE Committee, chaired by Senior Minister of State for Law and Education, Ms Indranee Rajah, was set up in January 2014 to study this.

Footnote
  1. The executive summary of ASPIRE Committee’s recommendations is at Annex A.

Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat at the Gala Dinner to Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Hwa Chong Institution (College Section)

Ministry Of Education Feed - 23 August 2014
Introduction

It is a pleasure to join you in this evening’s celebrations. Set up in 1974, Hwa Chong JC was Singapore’s first government-aided junior college. Since then, Hwa Chong has nurtured generations of civic-minded citizens who have contributed with great distinction in industry, the community, and government. Tonight, I would like to take this opportunity not just to celebrate Hwa Chong’s achievements, but also outline how Hwa Chong can continue to contribute towards our vision for a better Singapore.

Excellence, Values, Inclusiveness

First, let me set the context. We live in times of more rapid, more fundamental, change than ever. Globalisation and technological breakthroughs will continue to transform the way we live, work, and play, but at an even faster pace. Singapore is also changing. We are evolving in our population age, our abilities, our aspirations. As a society, we continue to deepen our hopes for happiness, justice, equality, and progress for all, even as these become more challenging to achieve - not just for us but for many other developed nations.

Our education system has to prepare a future-ready generation of Singaporeans to navigate these changes. Our schools have an important role to play in this. With your distinguished history and spirit, Hwa Chong, can make an important contribution, in three main areas: excellence, values, and inclusiveness.

First, in the area of excellence, Hwa Chong must continue to be one of the “peaks of excellence” in our education system. This is to ensure that every student will have a pathway to develop his natural interests and talents, thereby maximising their potential to contribute to Singapore. I am glad that promoting excellence is one of Hwa Chong’s traditional strengths.

It pioneered a number of innovative programmes together with MOE to cater to the diverse talents of its students. These include the Humanities Programme and the Chinese Language Elective Programme, catering to students with an interest in the humanities and students with bilingual talents respectively. The two programmes are still going strong today.

Hwa Chong also pioneered the Integrated Programme (IP) which develops students in academic and non-academic areas. In the High School, students hone their research and communication skills in the Projects Competition and further their interests in the Sabbatical Programme. The skills of research, problem solving, and oral communication they hone in the first four years in HCI equip students with vital skills needed in the 21st century.

However, we need to continue to ensure that Hwa Chong’s excellence must also benefit the wider community of schools and students as well. Having benefited from strong MOE support to pilot new approaches in education, I encourage Hwa Chong, and indeed, all our schools that have excelled in their own ways, to share your best practices so that we can level up all our schools together. Our school leaders’ not only have a responsibility to achieve excellence in their own schools, but also a responsibility to uplift our entire education system.

Second, values. Our goal is to inculcate every student with a strong core of values and character, and nurture a strong commitment to Singapore and fellow Singaporeans. This will enable them to make sound decisions, and employ their talents for society’s collective good.

I am glad that community service is a key part of the Hwa Chong experience. The school has many meaningful Values-In-Action programmes and Service Learning Projects. These help to develop in students sound values and create a strong sense of the importance of service to others, helping them live up to the school’s vision of living with passion, and leading with compassion.

I am told that your canoeing team held a “24-hour Static Kayaking Challenge” that involved 400 students from 11 secondary schools and junior colleges, and raised $25,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore. Peter Daniel, former Vice Captain of the Canoeing team and a recent graduate from Hwa Chong shared what he learnt: “There is no set formula for community service. One should use whatever talents one has been given to help others.” To continue making a lasting difference in the lives of the MDAS members after the event, Peter continues to volunteer with MDAS, where he tutors its members. I hope our students will take such experiences from their days in school, and carry them forward into their working and personal lives, leaving a mark on the lives of others.

Third, inclusiveness. Our schools are important platforms for us to level up Singaporeans who start off from less advantaged backgrounds, so that every child can have the opportunity to fulfil his potential. In particular, established institutions like Hwa Chong cannot become “closed circles”. Every child should enjoy all the available opportunities to fulfil his or her potential. At the same time, our academically able students have to be exposed to diverse backgrounds to build empathy and understanding. This is essential if we are to build a compassionate meritocracy that rewards effort and talent regardless of social background, while guarding against elitism and exclusiveness.

The Government has enhanced the Independent School Bursary Scheme to provide greater assistance to students from lower to middle income families, and help ensure that Independent Schools like HCI continue to be affordable for all. However, this is only part of the picture. Independent schools can do a lot to encourage inclusiveness.

It is good that Hwa Chong Institution works with primary school principals to encourage talented Primary 5 and 6 children to join the Hwa Chong IP, regardless of their financial background. Hwa Chong also invited the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) to nominate primary school children from lower-income families to participate in its Junior Science Experiential Camp. Let us continue to reach out to children from diverse backgrounds.

\Beyond inclusiveness in admissions and programming, Hwa Chong’s commitment to admitting and educating good students regardless of their background is a good example of our meritocratic system, which has served Singapore well over the years. Your alumnus Arturo Neo has a challenging financial situation at home, but thrived in the nurturing learning environment and opportunities provided by Hwa Chong. As the President of the Students’ Council, he improved students’ welfare, and sought to positively impact the lives of others. He excelled in the 2013 A-Level Examinations and was recently awarded the President’s Scholarship. I met Arturo and his family and I could see the mark of the Hwa Chong education in him. He wants to be a doctor to serve others. It is an example of how we create a virtuous cycle - that we provide opportunities for everyone, groom our students to be the best they can be, with the right values and the strong commitment to serve. This is how we keep Singapore successful. And the school motto - 自强不息 (ceaseless quest for excellence) put into practice, is what we hope to continue seeing.

As Hwa Chong continues to build on its excellence and create an inclusive environment for every child despite of their backgrounds and circumstances, nurture every student so that they are anchored with timeless values that help guide their thoughts and actions, we must also be mindful that the future will bring more changes and challenges ahead, for which we need to prepare our students. We equip students with competencies to succeed in the 21st Century. But we also need to help them reflect more on issues that will affect their lives, so they may respond with confidence to them. Our students need to understand critical challenges that will affect them, and this must start with a good knowledge of current affairs. I hope that Hwa Chong and our schools can guide students towards a deep understanding of issues of the day affecting Singapore and the world, and a good place to start is to read our local newspapers and watch our local news, so that they know what is happening right here in Singapore and our region.

Hwa Chong’s Educators

Let me conclude by reiterating two key strengths that enable our schools and indeed, our education system, to succeed. The first is the constancy of purpose and continuity of effort. We see this in the way our principals have conducted themselves over the years - with each building on the good work of the predecessor. The founding principal Mr Lim Nai Tian worked tirelessly through the JC’s delayed completion of Hwa Chong JC and multiple relocations. Mr Bernard Fong left a considerable imprint on Hwa Chong’s history. When the Hwa Chong JC campus was declared structurally unsound in 1987, he led the staff and students in the moves to temporary locations at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic, in Woodlands and finally in Bukit Batok. These were emotional times, but Mr Fong’s calm demeanour and cheerful disposition steered the Hwa Chong family through them, and laid the foundation for a triumphant return to the Bukit Timah campus in December 1991.

Mr Ang Wee Hiong was Principal of Hwa Chong JC from 1999 to 2004 and Principal of HCI from 2005 to 2009. As Hwa Chong JC’s longest-serving principal, he oversaw two milestones: the Independence of the JC in 2004 and its subsequent merger with The Chinese High School in 2005. I am glad that the students are now undergoing an integrated experience. This could not happen without the close coordination of Chinese High and Hwa Chong JC, or the guidance of alumni from both sides. With the commitment and inclusive spirit of school leaders and alumni, the young benefit. Indeed, the success of a school is built upon its leadership. And Hwa Chong has benefitted from the strong guidance and direction provided also by Mr Wu Tsung Kan, the late Mr Lim Kim Woon, Mr Chan Tung Fung and Mdm Leong Fan Chin over the years. We are very glad that Mdm Leong is able to join us today. Today, Dr Hon Chew Weng continues to build on this foundation, to take Hwa Chong to greater heights.

We should also pay tribute to Hwa Chong’s pioneer teachers. Some are still teaching in Hwa Chong today, such as Mrs Lee Chay Koon, Mrs Tam Beng Beng and Miss Quek Hoon Khim. They have great devotion to their craft, and continue to pass on Hwa Chong’s time-honoured values to their charges.

Hwa Chong’s Alumni

The other strength is Hwa Chong’s alumni and your tradition of giving back. Generations of Hwa Chongians have benefitted from the generosity of alumni and philanthropists, such that no deserving student is denied a Hwa Chong education. With the support of the JC Alumni, the Hwa Chong Junior College Alumni Bursary Fund has risen from $20,000 to more than $50,000 annually.

Amongst you, Mr William Ng, the executive director of Furama Hotels International and Patron of the Hwa Chong JC Alumni, donated $200,000 to set up the Hwa Chong Junior College Alumni Undergraduate Scholarship. He also shares his experiences in hospitality with the students. Apart from physical and monetary gifts, many of you give of your time to mentor your juniors. Alumna Dr Loh Poey Ling, dentist and a member of the Hwa Chong Institution Board of Governors, advises students on dentistry as a career. I hope that the Alumni will remain forthcoming in your contributions to serve the school and illuminate diverse pathways for your juniors.

As we celebrate this special occasion, we are also celebrating the spirit of pursuing excellence, promoting values and expanding inclusiveness. And we are building on the strengths of the leaders and staff of the school, and the support of alumni. Congratulations to the Board of Directors and Board of Governors, school leaders, teachers, students, alumni and parents on this special occasion. May the Hwa Chong spirit live on.

Thank you.

2015 Primary School Mother Tongue Languages Curriculum to Help Students Become Active Learners, Proficient Users

Ministry Of Education Feed - 23 August 2014

The 2015 Primary School Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) curriculum will be phased in to schools starting from the Primary 1 level in 2015 and progressively to the Primary 6 level in 2020. The 2015 Primary School MTL curriculum aims to develop students as proficient language users who can communicate in a confident and effective way. This builds on the current curriculum and is aligned with the recommendations of the 2010 MTL Review Committee.

Recognising that many real-life situations require spontaneous two-way communication, the 2015 Primary School MTL curriculum will place greater emphasis on spoken and written interaction skills. The 2015 curriculum will have a greater focus on authentic activities to better develop our students’ communication skills. It will also continue to expose students to culture and values through MTL learning.

A set of story characters will feature in each of the MTL textbooks, big books, as well as information and communications (ICT) resources. The story characters will be set in real-life situations to better engage students in their learning of MTL. The learning objectives of each lesson will also be brought out through the story characters.

There will also be a greater use of information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance the teaching and learning of MTL. ICT resources such as videos, animations, digital interactive games will continue to be developed to support the curriculum in engaging our students to learn MTL in a fun and purposeful way.

The names of the 2015 Primary MTL textbooks are as follows:

Mother Tongue Language (MTL) Name of MTL Textbook Chinese Language 欢乐伙伴
Huan Le Huo Ban Malay Language Cekap Tamil Language தேன் தமிழ்
Theen Thamizh

Speech by Ms Sim Ann at the 3rd Mother Tongue Languages Symposium

Ministry Of Education Feed - 23 August 2014

Good morning. 早安。Selamat pagi. Vanakkam.

It is my pleasure to open the 3rd Mother Tongue Languages Symposium and welcome you to the Outstanding Pre-School Mother Tongue Language Teacher Award Presentation.

The Journey Thus Far

The MTL Symposium has entered its third year. We started it with the aim of creating a special day for supporters of our mother tongue languages - be they educators, parents, community stakeholders or academics - to come together, share ideas and update each other on developments in teaching and learning in schools and pre-schools. The purpose: to help our children enjoy learning their mother tongue languages.

This year’s Symposium is bigger and better than last year’s, thanks to encouraging feedback from participants like yourselves. We have more exhibitors and more sharing sessions and workshops this year, showcasing a wider range of innovative teaching approaches.

We have also introduced a new element this year - a stream of performances from special folks we call “Friends of MTL Fortnight”. They are made up of groups and organisations who have been partnering schools for the Mother Tongue Language exposure programme known as the MTL Fortnight, which every school organises. Our schoolchildren have been benefiting from these programmes, but parents seldom get a chance to experience them. We have invited them here today, and we hope that their performances and sharing can inspire parents to reinforce the exposure to MTLs at home.

Last year, we found that many participants lingered on at the showcases and stalls well after the official closing time of 5pm. So, this year, the Symposium will be a longer event - we will stay open till 8pm.

Efforts by Schools to Enrich and Enthuse

Our schools have continued to think up and implement innovative ideas for teaching the Mother Tongue Languages. An example is West Spring Primary with their “Purposeful Learning Activity for Young”, also known as the “PLAY” approach, which is extensively used for the building of listening and oral skills. Activities such as Physical Play, Dramatic Play, ICT Play and Object Play are incorporated into learning, allowing students to use Chinese language in an authentic setting that is fun yet challenging.

St. Anthony’s Canossian Primary School organises thematic school-based MTL Fortnight activities to enhance students’ appreciation for the Malay language and culture. Activities such as food tasting, playing traditional games and wearing traditional costumes help students to enjoy the learning of their language and culture.

In Admiralty Primary School, drama is used to enhance students’ spoken Tamil. Teachers ensure that students with different learning needs will benefit from the Drama Programme. Most importantly, students gain confidence in speaking the language and learn to express themselves more fluently through dramatisation.

Support from the Community

All this is complemented by efforts from the various community groups to provide opportunities for students to use their Mother Tongue Languages beyond the classroom.

The three committees to promote Mother Tongue Languages have rallied various stakeholders to this end. The Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning has several signature programmes, such as the Cultural Performance Exposure Scheme, Author-in-Residence Programme and Literary Forums - Literature Under the April Sky.

The Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee also drives a number of signature initiatives. The Pesta Pantun has been a major annual event to promote poetry in schools. The Perkampungan Bahasa, a language residential camp for secondary school students, provides an immersive environment for them to learn and use the Malay Language. Penglipur Lara benefits primary school students with its workshop and storytelling competition, nurturing them to be creative and confident speakers.

The Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee has introduced various platforms to engage students and nurture their love for Tamil Language. For instance, Edugai, a well-received song writing programme, provides a platform for students to immerse themselves in song-writing and music composition. Another notable initiative is the Theatre Workshop, which aims to promote spoken Tamil among secondary school students. A short-film making workshop and competition organised by the committee engages students through new media.

The setting up of the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism in recent years has boosted our efforts in promoting bilingualism. For a start, the Fund is focusing at the pre-school level to nurture a love for bilingual learning in our children from young. The Fund has sponsored several projects, including the development of picture books, songs, digital stories, language games and other publications for young children set in the local context. These would augment the pool of locally available resources for pre-school children.

The efforts by the community groups and organisations, together with the hard work of our schools, create a conducive and vibrant environment for our children. The positive impact of the collective effort is reflected well in the following Malay pantun.

Jikalau tuan mengangkat peti,
Tolong masukkan segala barang;
Jikalau kita bersatu hati,
Kerja yang susah menjadi senang 1

My hope is for our parents to complete the picture by actively tapping into the available resources and providing support to their children in the learning of Mother Tongue Languages. Parents play a vital role in helping their children develop a positive attitude towards the learning of languages, and in reinforcing the benefits reaped from the efforts of schools and community groups. Just as the Tamil saying goes, “Oor koodi theer elukka veendum”, meaning, ‘it takes many people to pull the chariot”, each and every one of us has a role to play in transmitting the love for our Mother Tongue Languages to the next generation.

2015 Primary MTL Curriculum

We are constantly mindful of the need to ensure that our Mother Tongue curriculum stays effective and relevant to changing needs.

In line with recommendations by the 2010 MTL Review Committee, MOE will be introducing the 2015 Primary MTL Curriculum, starting from Primary 1 next year and progressively to all subsequent levels. Since the review in 2010, there have been ongoing efforts to update the MTL curriculum. One of them is the introduction of the Interaction Package in 2011, which contains teaching resources and a guide for teachers to facilitate students’ interaction skills through various activities in class. The iMTL Portal was also introduced in 2013, providing an interactive ICT platform for students, further leveraging technology to engage students in the learning of Mother Tongue Languages.

These progressive enhancements have been incorporated into the 2015 Primary MTL curriculum. The curriculum aims to develop students into proficient language users who can communicate confidently and effectively in real-life situations. There will be a greater focus on authentic activities to strengthen our students’ communication skills. The curriculum will also encourage language use in its various forms, while continuing to expose students to the rich culture and values embedded in the language.

One of the features of this curriculum will be the introduction of a set of story characters that are of similar age as our students. These characters will appear in the stories of the big books and in the related animation. The stories will be set in real-life contexts and students will be able to relate well to the characters’ experiences, as these characters will ‘grow’ with the students. These characters will also help to highlight the learning objectives for each lesson and be role models in the use of the language.

This curriculum will also see a greater leverage on the use of ICT to enhance the teaching and learning of Mother Tongue Languages. ICT resources such as videos, animations and digital interactive games will continue to be developed to make the learning of MTL fun and meaningful.

The 2015 Primary MTL Curriculum builds on the strong foundation of the current curriculum. It will continue to be guided by students’ developmental progression in language acquisition, such as by beginning with the development of their oral skills. Differentiated pedagogical approaches have also been weaved into the design of the curriculum to cater to students with different starting points and language ability.

We hope that this curriculum will enable our students to build a good foundation in their Mother Tongue Languages and develop confidence in using these languages in their daily lives. It is also important that we help our students nurture their interest for lifelong learning. This positive attitude of continuous learning is very aptly encapsulated by the Chinese saying “活到老,学到老”, meaning one should continue to learn regardless of age.

Tribute to Outstanding Pre-School MTL Teachers

Efforts to encourage bilingualism in pre-schools will enable our children to build a strong foundation for language learning when they enter primary school. Our pre-school teachers are key in this effort. This morning, we honour teachers who have been exemplary in their work with the Outstanding Pre-school Mother Tongue Language Teacher Award. The Award is organised by the three committees to promote Mother Tongue Languages and is supported by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.

I congratulate the 15 Outstanding and Merit Award recipients. They inspire us with their passion in helping children to build a good foundation in learning the Mother Tongue Languages from young, using a variety of pedagogical approaches. May you continue to nurture more youngsters and help them become motivated learners and confident users of their Mother Tongue Languages.

Conclusion

On this note, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all the parties that are involved in making this symposium possible. They are the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning, Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee, Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee, Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism, Bicultural Taskforce, Early Childhood Development Agency and Singapore Press Holdings - Lianhe Zaobao student publications.

I wish everyone a fruitful and memorable day.

Thank you. 谢谢。Terima kasih. Nandri.

Footnote
  1. The Pantun is translated as follows:
    Should we carry a chest,
    Fill it up with as many things;
    Should we unite as one,
    Challenging tasks will become effortless.

15 Pre-School Teachers Recognised for Their Passion in Nurturing a Love for Language Learning Among Young Children

Ministry Of Education Feed - 22 August 2014
Outstanding Pre-School Mother Tongue Language Teacher Award 2014

This year, five teachers will receive the Outstanding Pre-school Mother Tongue Language (MTL) Teacher Award 1. The awards will be presented by Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Communications and Information, at the 3rd Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) Symposium on Saturday, 23 August 2014. Another 10 pre-school teachers will receive the merit award. The list of award recipients can be found in Annex.

The award, jointly presented by the committees 2 to promote MTLs, and supported by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism, recognises pre-school teachers for their passion in making the learning of MTLs interesting and in nurturing a love for languages among pre-school children.

The 15 award recipients were selected from a total of 110 nominations. The selection panel consisted of nine experienced pre-school educators and academics. The panel members conducted on-site lesson observations and the teachers also presented their lesson plans and training videos to the panel members during interviews.

3rd Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) Symposium

Into its third year this year, the MTL Symposium brings together Singapore schools and the community to share our collective efforts in promoting MTL through creative and engaging programmes. The MTL Symposium, jointly organised by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the committees to promote MTLs, will be held at the Suntec Singapore Exhibition and Convention Centre, from 11:00am to 8:00pm on Saturday, 23 August 2014.

This year’s theme, “Flourish in the Wonderland of Our Languages”, underscores the importance of schools, community and parents working together to provide a supportive and vibrant language environment in helping children develop their MTL proficiency. It will also provide a platform for the exchange of ideas among educators and parents on children’s learning of their MTL.

Besides 12 sharing sessions and workshops, there will also be 40 exhibition booths set up by pre-school centres, schools and various partners, showcasing innovative teaching methods and community programmes that help to nurture children as active learners and proficient users of their MTL. A list of activities and exhibitions at the MTL Symposium can be found at www.mtls.com.sg. Admission is free.

Footnote
  1. The Outstanding Pre-school Chinese Language Teacher Award was first introduced in 2009 by the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning. From 2013, the award has been renamed the Outstanding Pre-school Mother Tongue Language Teacher Award to recognise the contributions of all MTL teachers.
  2. The committees comprise the Committee to Promote Chinese Language Learning, the Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee, and the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee.

Speech (in Malay) by Mr Hawazi Daipi at the Soliloquy Competition 2014

Ministry Of Education Feed - 22 August 2014
Pengenalan

Saya berasa gembira sekali dapat bersama-sama guru-guru dan pelajar sekalian dalam Peraduan Soliloquy anjuran Perkumpulan Seni pada petang Jumaat ini.

‘Soliloquy’, perkataan yang berasal daripada bahasa Latin ‘Solus’ yang bermaksud ‘sendiri’ dan ‘loqui’ yang bermaksud ‘bercakap’ sebenarnya ialah ucapan yang dilakukan oleh seseorang itu kepada dirinya sendiri. Dalam pementasan drama atau sketsa, watak dalam drama tersebut akan bercakap sendiri apa yang difikirkannya.

Manfaat Menyertai Peraduan Soliloquy

Dengan itu, peraduan Soliloquy ini memberi para peserta peluang untuk menyampaikan fikiran mereka dalam bahasa Melayu yang baik - baik dari sudut pemilihan kata, pembinaan ayat, baik sebutannya dan baik dari sudut penyampaian secara lisan. Dengan kata lain, soliloquy melatih peserta bertutur dengan berkesan. Dengan itu, seseorang itu dapat berkomunikasi dengan baik, satu daripada kemahiran yang penting sekali dalam abad ke-21 ini.

Latar Belakang Penganjuran Peraduan Soliloquy

Pertandingan Soliloquy yang keempat ini merupakan acara tahunan Perkumpulan Seni sempena sambutan Bulan Bahasa 2014. Dengan berkerjasama dengan Sekolah Menengah Yusof Ishak dan sokongan dana Jawatankuasa Pembelajaran dan Penggalakan Penggunaan Bahasa Melayu, MLLPC, peraduan ini menyediakan platform kepada para pelajar untuk mempamerkan kebolehan mereka bertutur dengan fasih. Syabas saya ucapkan kerana usaha yang baik untuk melestarikan bahasa Melayu.

Sebentar tadi, kita bukan sahaja disajikan dengan bakat lakonan 16 peserta dari peringkat sekolah rendah dan menengah, malah kita telah melihat kefasihan mereka berbahasa Melayu dengan berkesan.

Peluang Untuk Mempraktikkan Pelajaran Bahasa Melayu

Para pelajar sekalian, rebutlah peluang yang terdapat untuk mempraktikkan apa yang dipelajari dalam kelas Bahasa Melayu. Sertailah kegiatan-kegiatan bahasa Melayu yang dianjurkan untuk para pelajar sekalian - sama ada di balai-balai rakyat atau kelab-kelab masyarakat, perpustakaan negara (NLB), akhbar, internet atau apa sahaja yang dapat menjadikan bahasa Melayu yang dipelajari itu bahasa hidup, yang digunakan dalam kehidupan kita. Sertailah kegiatan-kegiatan sempena Bulan Bahasa 2014 seperti peraduan Soliloquy ini.

Penguasaan bahasa Melayu kita akan hanya menjadi lebih baik sekiranya kita kerap menggunakannya dalam kehidupan seharian. Manfaatkanlah segala peluang yang ada untuk menggunakan bahasa Melayu dengan rakan-rakan, ibu bapa, datuk nenek dan saudara mara apabila bertemu dalam kunjungan Hari Raya (kita masih dalam bulan Syawal, ya), majlis perkahwinan atau kenduri-kendara.

Penutup

Sebelum saya mengakhiri ucapan saya, tahniah saya ucapkan kepada para pemenang dan kepada peserta yang tidak berjaya kali ini, saya pasti, pengalaman yang diraih amat bernilai sekali. Cuba lagi tahun hadapan.

Sejambak kasih, sekalung budi saya ucapkan kepada seluruh jentera penggerak Perkumpulan Seni serta para guru Sekolah Menengah Yusof Ishak atas kejayaan menganjurkan majlis pada hari ini.

Bagi saya, usaha PS ini mencerminkan kesungguhannya dalam memainkan peranan memartabatkan bahasa agar ia tidak hilang ditelan arus pembangunan melalui kegiatan yang dapat meningkatkan keupayaan para pelajar menggunakan bahasa ibundanya dengan berkesan dan yakin. Saya yakin ada banyak lagi peluang bagi PS dan sekolah-sekolah kita bekerjasama untuk memperluas peluang bagi pelajar dan ibu bapa menggunakan bahasa ibunda kita serta mengamalkan budi pekerti dan budaya kita.

Akhir kata, kepada para pelajar sekalian, cintailah bahasa kita, jagalah adab dan tutur kata kita dengan orang di sekeliling kita, tidak kira kepada yang tua atau yang muda.

Kapal Pinisi berisi padat,
Dari Makasar langsung ke Deli;
Hidup kita biarlah beradat,
Bahasa tidak dijual beli.

Sekian, terima kasih.

Latest Waiver Move Could Weaken Key Obama Priority - Education Week

The Education Department will let states with NCLB waivers seek a delay in tying student test scores to teacher evaluations until the 2015-16 school year.

Singapore Team Ranked 1st at the 11th International Geography Olympiad

Ministry Of Education Feed - 21 August 2014

The Ministry of Education (MOE) congratulates our students for their excellent performance at the 11th International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) held in Krakow, Poland, from 12 to 18 August 2014.

The Singapore team obtained 2 Gold medals, 1 Silver medal and 1 Bronze medal. This placed Singapore 1st in a field of 144 students from 36 countries. This is the fourth year that Singapore is taking part in the competition.

The Gold medalists are Lim Wei Chong Timothy and Joshua Chin Zen Jie from Raffles Institution. The Silver medalist is Wilson Chua Wei Cheng from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, and the Bronze medalist is Tan Yi Ying from Hwa Chong Institution. For the fieldwork test this year, students explored the historic Błonia Park in central Krakow and proposed strategies for the preservation of green spaces in urban areas.

The Singapore delegation was led by Mr Benjamin Yuan and Ms Tay Hui Peng, Curriculum Planning Officers from MOE.

A Joint Effort

Our students’ participation in the International Geography Olympiad is a joint effort between MOE and the following organisations:

  • Department of Geography, National University of Singapore;
  • National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University; and
  • Geography Teachers’ Association of Singapore.

Members of the Singapore team were selected from participants of the National University of Singapore Geography Challenge 2013 and National Geography Talent Development Programme (TDP). The TDP is designed to nurture students’ passion in Geography and deepen their knowledge of the subject. The TDP is supported by the abovementioned organisations.

Background on iGeo

The International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) brings together outstanding 16 to 19 year old Geography students from around the world, challenging and stimulating their minds in the spirit of competition. iGeo is organised annually by the International Geographical Union (IGU). The IGU was established in 1922 and represents the interests of geographers from 104 countries including Singapore. The IGU facilitates the participation of geographers in the global community of scientists through its affiliation to the International Council for Science (ICSU) and International Social Science Council (ISSC). Students are required to demonstrate a good mastery of a wide range of physical and human geography topics. They also need to apply geographical knowledge and skills to solve problems in unfamiliar contexts.

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